A collecting trip in Italy

by Diego Montanari


It was an hot and sunny morning when we moved to the coast. We were in August , and since the climate was just perfect for a collecting trip, we planned to visit Cervia’s salt-works (Saline di Cervia). It’s a really interesting area where the water ranges from brackish (density = 1.005-1.010 g/l) to marine or even extra-salted (d= 1.030-1.035 g/l). As a killi fan I was mainly interested in Aphanius fasciatus (quite abundant here), but it would be interesting also to collect some introduced livebearers from this particular biothope.

My Team was made up of 3 elements: an aquarist (like me) very interested in killies and livebearers, an experienced fisherman with a regular fishing license (One can never know if you’ll undergo a control…) and me. The two guys I mentioned above are both good friends of mine and I thank them for their help in this occasion!! Well, we left my town (near Bologna) at 8 a.m. and we arrived to Cervia (by car) an hour later or so. The place we were going to visit is near a kart-racing track, just a few kilometers far from the highway exit. The shallow channels we visited flows along the two sides of a country road. It’s a very quiet place… less than ten cars passed on that road in more than three hours we spent there. Sometimes you can only be disturbed by the noises of the kart which are running behind your shoulders.

The main channel (on the right side of the road) was very clear and warm (even if it was morning), and it’s directly connected with the salt-works that were in sight looking over the body of water. Many bushes along the banks of the river, gave us some problems in sampling the river…we solved that using telescopic nets.


The main channel. You can see the salt-works over it


In order to obtain that the fish enter our nets, we fed them with some pieces of bread placed right in the middle of the fishing-nets. Within some minutes many fishes will enjoy that food and it’s easy to bring them out of the water. Using this method we collected many specimens of different species: Aphanius fasciatus (mostly among the vegetation- we brought back about 20 ones), Atherina boyeri, mullet, crayfish that were all released before returning.

Regrettably no Gambusia there… the salinity was too high (more than 1.030 g/l!).

  We found them in the second channel, narrower than the first one. The water there was slow – flowing and green (a lot of unicellular algae). In that we found only Gambusia holbrooki and some Aphanius fasciatus ( less than the ones in the main stream). The salinity was about 1.010 g/l near the surface; a little higher when we tested deeper sample of water from the middle of the channel.


The secondary channel where we collected Gambusia


Gambusia prefer a low density and, in fact, they swims near the surface. Instead Aphanius ranges from the bottom to the top not caring too much on density. The pH in both streams was from 8 to 8.5.

We brought back also some G.holbrooki that are still doing well in my tanks such as A.fasciatus.