American eels have an interesting life cycle as they are catadromous, which means they reproduce in the marine environment and spend the remaining portion of their life in freshwater.American eels reproduce in deep regions of the Atlantic Ocean (Sargasso Sea).The eggs and larvae, known as leptocephalus larvae, float with the oceanic currents.It takes approximately one year for the larvae to reach the coastal regions of the western Atlantic.At this point, they begin the first of several additional juvenile stages and begin to ascend streams and rivers along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts where they spend most of their life in freshwater.American eelspossess elongated bodies but lack pelvic fins. The dorsal, anal, and caudal fins are continuous and appear as though they represent one fin.They possess very fine, non-overlapping scales covering their bodies.The larger tributaries in the basin are where the American eel is most common.
The bay anchovy is primarily a marine species but can be common in Lake Pontchartrain.It is very small in size, reaching maximum lengths of less than 4 inches.They are laterally compressed and possess nearly transparent bodies.They also possess a single dorsal fin, elongated jaws, and a broad silvery mid-lateral stripe along the length of the body.They are typically found in large schools, as they actively feed on zooplankton near the waters surface.Bay anchovies play a key role in the food web of Lake Pontchartrain as they represent the forage base for many larger predatory species in the basin including speckled trout.
The Gulf menhaden (or Pogy) is a wide-ranging species that occurs in the near shore or estuarine regions of the Gulf of Mexico from the Yucatan peninsula to near Tampa Florida. It also occurs in Lake Pontchartrain.It is a fairly deep-bodied and laterally compressed species with a dark blue or greenish colored back and a bright silvery colored body.There is usually a large dark lateral spot, followed by several smaller spots along the flank.It also possesses sharp serrated scutes along the belly.Gulf menhaden typically feed on zooplankton and live throughout the water column.Gulf menhaden represent one of the most important commercial fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico, harvested specifically for their oil.According to Ross (2001), the oil is used in the production of cosmetics, rust preventative paints, and livestock feeds.
The common carp is a member of the minnow family, a group that also includes chubs, dace, shiners, and goldfish.It is easily distinguished by the presence of two barbels, a gray to brassy body coloration, large scales, and a stout body.Carp grow to large sizes, commonlyweighing 20 poundsor more.They are native to Eurasia and were introduced into North America in the mid-1800s.They occupy various habitats, most often occurring in lakes, ponds, reservoirs, and pooled habitats of slow flowing portion of rivers and streams with silty bottoms and vegetation.They also occur in brackish waters, like Lake Pontchartrain, but are most common in freshwater environments.Common carp occur in Lakes Pontchartrain and Maurepas and most of the surrounding rivers and streams. Common carp are usually taken in commercial fisheries in the Mississippi River and to a lesser extent in the recreational fishery in the Lake Pontchartrain Basin and elsewhere throughout the eastern United States.
The blacktail shiner is the most common minnow in small to medium sized streams and rivers in the southeastern United States.It occurs in areas of swifter current over sand and gravel substrates.It also occurs in freshwater habitats along the Gulf Coastal Plain from Texas to Georgia and Florida, and northward to southern Illinois.The large black caudal spot andyellowish-colored pectoral and pelvic fins make this species easy to identify.It is a relatively large shiner species, reaching a length of 7.5 inches although specimens of 2-4 inches are most common.
The longnose shiner is common in sandy bottomed streams and rivers in the southeastern United States and occupies most of the tributaries in the Lake Pontchartrain Basin.It is a small minnow with a maximum length of approximately 2 inches.The body color is straw colored, and the fins are typically yellow or orange.It lives on the bottom of the stream in flowing water habitats, typically over sand or gravel substrates.The longnose shiner feeds on small invertebrates.