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Horndogs. Not Corndogs. Horndogs.

I found some eggs on my nursery racks a couple of weeks ago.  They were pale green, perfectly round, and about a millimeter or two in size.  They were stuck together in amorphous masses, about the size of a quarter, and nestled within clumps of red algae.  We find these eggs every winter and I’ve always wondered what they were.  Bill, Pogie, Skip, Gregg, and I have collectively agreed that they are probably Sculpin eggs because these small, spiny fish are still hanging around in December and I also checked into reference guides and they look like the pictures.  I decided to find out for sure.

I set up a small aquarium in my garage where about a hundred or so eggs, in four clumps, swirled around with some red algae.  Since that day I have been checking the eggs, trying to determine any changes.  One group turned darker than the rest and I noticed a bunch of little eyeballs peering out at me.  Yesterday (Sunday) I found two little fish swimming around.  Then they died.  So today (Monday) I changed the water and split them up into two static (no air bubbles) systems because I felt that perhaps the turbulence from the bubbles may have tired them out.  I put the “ripe” egg ball into a glass dish with some new bay water and the rest into a small aquarium.  A few hours later I checked them – dozens of little fish were swimming around the glass dish and I could see more escaping from their egg cases – success, I am a new father.

Now the question is how often to change the water and when to begin to feed them.  I think that their yolks last about a week and then perhaps I should introduce some brine shrimp or, as suggested to me tonight, daphnia.  Eventually I will identify the species.  I think they might be Longhorn Sculpin.  But they could be Grubby or Shorthorn Sculpins, according to Michael Ursin’s cool, but simple, book on temperate Atlantic fishes.  I hope that they are Longhorn Sculpins, whose Latin name is Myoxocephalus octodecemspinosus.  The name “Sculpin” is odd enough, but according to the state of Maine, M. octodecemspinosus has additional common names of “hornpout” and “horndog.”  Wouldn’t it be great if I could tell people that I’m raising a family of horndogs?  Or perhaps I’d have to excuse myself from meetings because I’d have to rush home to feed the hornpouts.

I’ll let you know if these scenarios ever come to fruition.  In the meantime, if so inclined, you may read more about horndogs if you click here.

 John W. Brawley or Dr. John uses science  to cheat at fishing.

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