Live Foods from the WildPart II – Where to Find Wild Foods A presentation for The Angelfish Society October 17, 2010 by Tamar Stephens
About this presentation This is the second in a series of presentations on live foods from the wild. • Part I talked about the nutritional value of wild foods. • Part II (this presentation) talks about where to find wild foods. The rest of this series will cover: • Part III: How to collect wild foods • Part IV: Types of wild foods • Part V: How to culture wild foods
Seasonal Variations With angelfish, we are most interested in collecting various types of live foods from the aquatic environment, such as insect larvae or small crustaceans. In regions with distinct seasons, the availability of wild foods will vary throughout the year. The greatest abundance will be available during the spring and summer months when there is ample sunlight, temperatures are warm, and water bodies are not covered with ice.
Most wild foods will be found in aquatic environments To understand where to look for wild foods, think about the basic types of organisms that exist in a food chain, and what they need to survive. Angelfish are primarily predators, so in the wild the bulk of their diet will consist aquatic prey species, not aquatic plants.
Food Chain Roles Energy from the sun Secondary consumers: “predators” Primary consumers (organisms that eat plants) aka “prey” Producers (algae and other aquatic plants that convert sunlight to energy through photosynthesis) Decomposers (bacteria, fungi, etc.) In a food chain, the most abundant biomass consists of plants (producers). The primary consumers that eat plants are the next most abundant. The least abundant are the predators. A food chain usually had multiple tiers of predators, and the top predators are the least abundant organisms.
Angelfish are predators Since angelfish are predators, it would make sense to look for locations with abundant prey species. Prey species will be most abundant where there is plenty of aquatic plant life. So what kinds of water bodies will provide good habitat for abundant plant life and therefore abundant prey species?
Calm water bodies support plant growth • In general, relatively calm or slow moving water will provide a place for plant growth. • Detritus sinks to the bottom where it provides a rich organic substrate for plant growth, as well as a substrate for the decomposers that turn waste back into basic components. • The plants provide food for the primary consumers (plant eaters), as well as habitat with hiding places for them to live, breed, lay eggs, raise young, etc.
Ponds A pond is a standing body of water. It can be natural or man-made. In general, a pond is shallow enough that light penetrates to the bottom, providing energy for plants to grow. A pond provides habitat for a rich diversity of living things. Ponds may be self-contained or may be fed by a spring or small stream. A pond in Ulster. Photo from Wikipedia Commons, contributed by user: Roland zh
Puddles Don’t overlook puddles as a potential source for finding wild foods. A puddle is usually small and ephemeral, often appearing after rainfall, or from irrigation. You may have seen puddles in low spots in your yard when you water the lawn. If a puddle retains water for several days or more, an abundance of life will start to appear in it, including organisms such as algae and insect larvae. Photo from Wikipedia Commons
Lakes The difference between a lake and a pond can be debated, but in general a lake will be deeper and larger than a pond. Light may not reach to the bottom of the lake. The richest habitat for wild foods will be in the shallower areas closer to the shoreline where sunlight penetrates so support plant growth. Shoreline vegetation provides shade, as well as fallen leaves and other organic litter to help support an organic substrate on the lake bed. Lake Tahoe on the border between California and Nevada. From Wikipedia Commons..
Sloughs A slough branches off a river and may be a former channel. The bottom of the channel may be silted up, so that water moves slowly, and may be stagnant at time. The Noyes slough in Fairbanks, Alaska is frozen about 6 months of the year, but teems with live during spring and summer, providing habitat for everything from insect larvae to ducks and beavers. Because of the slow movement of water and shallow depths, a slough is similar to pond. Noyes Slough, Fairbanks, Alaska. (Photo courtesy of the U.S. Geological Survey)
Rivers and Streams Rivers and streams are often fast-moving. The river bed can be scoured by fast moving water, so that plants have difficulty taking root. Silt and sand carried by the water can scour rocks clean so that even algae has difficulty growing. The water may be too turbulent for many small organisms. Good habitat can sometimes be found along a river bank or in other localized calm areas. Swift rivers and streams are not as good as ponds and other calm water bodies as sources of wild foods. Photo from Wikipedia commons.
Backyard Ponds Constructing a backyard pond can be a good way to create your own source of wild foods. If you live in a warm climate, placing some of your angelfish in the pond during summer months can provide them with free access to graze throughout the day on insects that land on the water, and on insect larvae and other creatures that will appear in the pond. Picture from www.relaxingdecor.com/pond-installations.htm
Where can you find wild foods near you? Think about what kinds of water bodies exist near your home. Is there a stream or pond near you? Do you have areas that collect rain water into puddles that last for weeks? Do you have a backyard pond? Maybe you would like to build a backyard pond? In the next installment of this series, we will talk about how you go about collecting wild foods.
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