The sea catfish, also known as the hardhead catfish, is a wide-ranging species, essentially occurring in marine and estuarine habitats from Chesapeake Bay to the Yucatan Peninsula. Sea catfish are also scaleless, possess two pairs of short barbels as well as two long maxillary barbels, and a forked caudal fin. They are typically steel-blue to silvery in coloration. They lack nostril barbels, which are present on freshwater catfish such as blue catfish and brindled madtoms. Most often, sea catfish are caught as by-catch as they are not typically targeted by anglers. Sea catfish have an interesting behavior; males carry fertilized eggs and larvae in their mouth as they develop. Once they reach a large enough size, the larvae leave the mouth to fend for themselves. Sea catfish are scavengers, and based on diet studies, eat a wide-range of food items from algae to fish to invertebrates.
The inland silverside is common in coastal regions and estuaries, including Lake Pontchartrain. They also occur in freshwater environments throughout eastern North America and are known to occur far inland; specimens have been collected as far inland as the Mississippi River in Missouri and Illinois. Inland silversides are elongate, possess two dorsal fins, an upturned mouth, and a broad silver lateral stripe. They live near the surface, often in schools, and feed on zooplankton and small invertebrates. Because they live near the surface, they are often preyed upon by larger fish and birds.
Atlantic needlefish occur throughout western Atlantic from Maine to Brazil and throughout the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean. Atlantic needlefish primarily occur in inshore areas, shallow coastal waters, and estuaries like Lake Pontchartrain, but can also be found far inland in freshwater rivers. Atlantic needlefish possess very small scales, elongate jaws with needle-like teeth, and an upper portion of the body that is greenish while the venter is white. Although needlefish appear similar to gars (Family Lepisosteidae),they are not closely related to each other. Needlefish live near the surface, often in grassy or vegetated shallow areas and attain a maximum size of two feet.
The sheepshead minnow is neither a sheepshead (drum family) nor a minnow (carp, shiner, minnow family). In fact, it a member of the pupfish family Cyprinodontidae, and most species occupy the arid southwest. Sheepshead minnows are robust and small with a maximum size of only 2 inches. Their bodies are silvery to bluish in color, and the ventral region is white. The posterior edge of the caudal fin is often bordered by a wide-dark stripe. Adult males often have an iridescent coloration when viewed from the shore. The sheepshead minnow occur along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts from Massachusetts to Vera Cruz, Mexico. They are very common along the vegetated shorelines of Lake Pontchartrain. The sheepshead minnow is very tolerant of elevated and diminished salinities. In Louisiana, they are resident freshwater populations, and in other areas, they occur in evaporating tide-pools with salinities as high as four times the level of seawater.
The sailfin molly is an attractive species with a unique morphology. As the common name implies, males possess an enlarged sail-like dorsal fin. Males, like the one depicted on the poster, possess a body that is bluish to silver in color, with 6-8 rows of dark spots along the side of the body, and a reddish margin on the dorsal fin.Females lack the large dorsal fin and are less colorful and ornate than males. The sailfin molly typically occurs in brackish water and is therefore very abundant near shoreline areas of Lake Pontchartrain. However, it is also very tolerant of freshwater and permanent resident populations occur throughout its range. Sailfin mollies are live bearers similar to their distant cousins like mosquitofish and guppies. They typically have 6-36 offspring per reproductive cycle and are capable of producing multiple clutches of offspring during their reproductive period (April to September). Maximum adult size is approximately 4 inches.
The shadow bass, also locally known as the goggle-eye, is a species in the sunfish family, a group which includes 32 species such as the largemouth bass, bluegill, and white crappie. The shadow bass is common in small streams and rivers along the Gulf Coast. It occurs in most streams in the Lake Pontchartrain Basin including the Natalbany, Tangipahoa, and Tickfaw Rivers. It occurs in the deeper pools of these streams, and like other species of sunfish, often is associated with woody debris or cover. The shadow bass is a distinctive species with a dark brown coloration and with 4-5 dark bands along the side of the body that extend from the dorsal region to the ventral region. There is also a distinct bar extending posteriorly from the eye. Maximum size is less than 8 inches, and the angling record for this species is 1.5 pounds.