To our disappointment, our large seine, a quarter inch mesh
forty by six feet, is virtually useless due to the massive
of aquatic plant growth. Our efforts at collecting or even
the red Petenia splendida are not fulfilled. However, we do manage
collect small specimens of "C." (Amphilophus) urophthalmus, "C."
spilurus and the red-headed cichlid, "C." (Theraps) synspilus. In
we manage to collect some noncichlids as well, including the
tetra (Astyanax fasciatus), the Mexican molly (Poecilia mexicana)
the pike top minnow (Belonesox belizanus).
Due to poor fishing, we move to the northwestern section of the
Here we find the aquatic vegetation changes predominantly to water
Large schools of Mexican tetras are very common and it is apparent
this small fish is the food of choice for the bay snook. Hiding
the leaves of the lily pads, we finally find the Petenia we are
Visual sightings of the normal green Petenia are common, as well
that of large red Petenia. The red Petenia is definitely a rare
in nature and extremely difficult to catch.
Our method of collecting employs a seven foot cast net, which is
by Karl Bischof. Karl is very proficient at throwing the net and
misses a targeted prospect. He manages to collect three green
Petenia and two red adult Petenia ranging in size from seven to
As mentioned earlier, Karl collects saltwater fish for export to
United States and Europe and it is quite apparent that he uses
exclusively to catch his fish. He speaks often about his dislike
cyanide and the illegal collecting methods that this competitors
use. Because he employs legal means to collect fish, he is placed
a price disadvantage.
We are able to make some interesting observations about the red
All of our visual sightings of this color morph take place amidst
lily pads. The red bay snook positions itself exactly alongside
new unfolding water lily leaf in approximately four feet of water.
is amazing how the red Petenia mimics the unfolding new red leaf
the lily pad. It is my belief that this color variety lives in no
place except among the red lily plants. Nature and evolution has
this brightly colored animal to survive despite the heavy
of predatory birds and reptiles. I can only assume that the red
would be gobbled up if transferred to any locality lacking the red
pads. The resemblance of the red Petenia to the lily is so
the cast net more often yields plants rather than fish because it
nearly impossible to differentiate the red lily pad from the red
Before dark sets in, we return to the truck, load our gear and
our long journey to Thom's farm in Dangriga. After an hours'
the path deteriorates into a poorly graded dirt road filled with
Traveling at an average speed of 15 mph, our badly sunburned
finally arrive at Thom's farm and we begin the process of
the new fish to the concrete vats which will be their home. With
luck and tender-loving care the fish should be breeding shortly.
these wild fish will provide the infusion of genes that the
stock of Petenia in the hobby needs in order to maintain the
red and green color. □