Aquaria Central ....................Largemouth Bass

Micropterus salmoides
Other names:...........none
Origin:......................North America
Max size:..................25"
Temperature:...........50-70 F.
Min tank size:..........135 gallons foods, flakes, pellets

The largemouth bass is a species of elongated, predatory sunfishes which are highly prized as game fish. It is highly adaptable and has been introduced throughout nearly all portions of the United States. Their prefered habitat is somewhat shallow, quiet, ponds and lakes and occasionally rivers and streams with plentiful vegetation. To catch one for your aquarium, you can either dip net or seine for them, but most collectors have more luck angling for them with tackle of an appropriate size (if you're looking for a smaller individual). Be very gentle when handling your newly caught bass, and try to exert as little stress on it as possible. Remove the hook extremely carfully without tearing the lip. If their is a lip injury, release the bass immediately.

The Largemouth Bass can be difficult to distinguish from other species of Micropterus. The basic rule of thumb in identifying the largemouth, is that the mouth extends slightly past the eye (when seen from the side) and the markings are more diffused from other species. The largemouth is a sort of mottled olive green-black from above which slowly fades to a brighter green and gold with silver speckles. The belly is light in color and is usually a gold-yellow-white. Largemouth Bass have a dark mid-horizontal band which fades and breaks up with age.

Anything alive and moving that can fit in the bass's mouth can become prey. The bass will enhale a small morsel into it's enormous protractile mouth whole, while larger prey is grabbed, turned head-first, and swallowed. If a victim is reluctant, the bass will often run with it, or subdue it with a few shakes and powerful jaw muscles. These aspects make the bass well regarded in the fishing world for they are feirce fighters.

The largemouth bass is usually the last fish an aquarist thinks of keeping in his/her aquarium. Contrary to this belief, the largemouth is quite an intelligent, succesful, and interesting predator. Possibly the most fearsome in U.S. freshwater (because of its diversity, and adaptability). Above all, they are oppurtunists, willing to take strong hold of their available food and territory.

To keep this fish in an aquarium, you need to have a big one at that. If you want to have this fish in the long run, until it reaches adulthood, you will need an aquarium, or pond of at leat 250 gallons. If you want to keep this fish temporarily and at a small size, I would not recommend anything under 55 gallons for an individual. The most suitable companions (other than each other) is other sunfish or bass species of the same size. Bullhead and channel catfish of equal size tend to be good companions also. For aquarium furnishings, it is best to have lots of swimming room and lots of dense vegetation, plus hiding places. Dim lighting is appreciated as well. For food, you will have to start with live fish, live insects, live worms (earthworms and nightcrawlers, excellent food), and live cray- fish. Any of these food items can be used and are excellent untill you can weine the bass onto dead foods such as beafheart, freeze dried krill, worms, etc., and carnivourous fish pellets. Largemouths are prone to overfeeding, therefore you should monitor all morsels placed into the tank. Allow periods of fasting. Keep the water at around 68 degrees F, and keep it moving (well oxygenated) and clean. Whatever you do, never mix these fish with exotics. Release them where you found them in the summer if they become a problem to keep, or if you want to move on and try something else. These fish are possibly illegal to collect in your area, so don't raise a ruckus when you collect one.

The parents dig small pits in the substrate, and deposit the eggs in this. The male then guards the offspring until they reach a size of about 1 inch. There are no external sexual differences. Both sexes become extraordinarily agressive during the spawning season, which lasts throughout spring and into early summer. All Micropterus species are actually quite prolific and breeding is probably possible in captivity, particularly in public aquaria.

If you keep a largemouth bass, you will be keeping an all-American fish which is just another example of our fabulous and overlooked natives. Several other species of bass such as the spotted, smallmouth, redeye, are also just as interesting, but I feel the largemouth is more suitable for the aquarium world, and more available.


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