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  Q
Did Liverpool [UK] have any fishkeeping clubs before the second world war (1939)?
A
No. The only known fish club in the Liverpool or Merseyside region, prior to the second world war, was the Merseyside Aquarium Society, formed in 1926 by its founder and Chair, Fred Jefferies, a local photographer. It was part of their constitution to open a public aquarium, which they did in a converted greenhouse in the grounds of Cliff House, Wellington Road, Wallasey, Wirral. When it opened in 1932 it was the first purpose-built public aquarium in the north-west of England. 

The society, and its public aquarium, ceased in 1936.

Webmaster - 17 June 2004.
 
  Q
I was interested to see (what was to me) huge mussels dredged up from a water bordering an old religious establishment (in England, UK). Some of them were at least 3 inches long - with bluish-black outer surface. At the time I presumed they were a survival of some species of freshwater mussel cultivated for the table by long-gone monks.

I couldn't find anything on the internet about these creatures. Are they an indigenous [UK] species or would they have been specially imported for their food value?

Thanks
Tony Newman, Canada.
newmannbb@sympatico.ca
A
Up to now all I can find out for sure is that the Victorians over fished our native marine mussels to the point of extinction, then made matters worse by seeding, in offshore beds, the American Blue-Point Oysters (Crassostrea virginica). In doing this they unwittingly introduced Slipper Limpets and the marine snail called the American Oyster Drill (Urosalpinx cinera). The latter feeds on oysters by drilling a hole through its shell and sucking out the flesh! It doesn't just eat native Oysters either, eating mussels the same way if there's nothing else around. The Slipper Limpet (Crepidula fornicata) was so successful in adapting to our local waters that, for over 100 years, it prevented local Oysters from re-establishing. However, with global warming and warmer waters divers are beginning to see a small but significant increase in their numbers.

The only freshwater mussels I can find that are similar to your description of: "at least 3 inches long with bluish-black outer surface" are the Painter's mussel (Unio pictorum)  up to 10cm, and Pearl mussel (Margaritifera margaritifera) up to 12cm. I could find nothing to suggest that they were from any other country so I presume they are indigenous to this country [UK]. However, bearing in mind what the Victorians did to the marine mussels, it is quite possible that they are not native! Also, several species of fish that are now quite common in this country are not native species some having been brought here as far back as Roman times who brought the common carp (Cyprinus carpio) from central Asia. Interestingly, It was probably kept by monks in ponds as a food fish, Friday being 'fish only' day for religious purposes.

Webmaster - 06 August 2004.
 
  Q
I spoke to someone who says he puts his sick/dying fish into local streams, ponds, rivers.  He doesn't seem to think this hurts the bodies of water or the animals living in them, but how could it not?  Would disease be spread?  Are there any harmful affects stemming from these actions?

Thanks
Kami Stevens, Georgia USA.
kstevens225@yahoo.com
A
Apart from how cruel this is there are very valid arguments against this unforgivable practice.

What is the fish suffering/dying from? Without an answer to this then anything said can only be speculation but, sick fish do pass on their infections to other fish so any thoughts that it doesn't is quite ridiculous. You only have to consult local and national newspapers, scientific journals and specialist magazines which, especially lately, are going on about the dangers of global warming (as one example, another example being the actions of the person you spoke to!) and the dangers it presents to local marine life when alien species can travel to waters that are warmer because of global warming. They bring with them parasites, and diseases, that will also flourish.

What if the sick fish got better and it was an aggressive species of fish? The harmful effect of this is that this fish would predate on the local fish, which could be wiped out - a good example of this is the Wells catfish. We have a local bird sanctuary not far from where I live [Liverpool UK] and visitors complained of seeing birds struggling frantically in the water, some disappearing. Experts are satisfied that it probably a Wells catfish and it has turned its attention to birds because there are insufficient fish left to satisfy its appetite, the catfish having eaten most of them.

Webmaster - December 2004.
 
       

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