We recently introduced a new pond-habitat observation tank in our Visitor Center. This tank is a demonstration of the rich and diverse warm water pond and stream habitats that can be found throughout the state of Maine. Every species of fish and other aquatic creatures in the tank were carefully collected from the water sources on the Arboretum property, making it a true reflection of the natural ecosystems that can be found in this region. This unique addition to our indoor Visitor Center space allows visitors to get an up-close view of the aquatic habitats found on the property. As you explore the tank you may encounter some of the following creatures:
Painted Turtle, Chrysemys picta: One of the most widespread species of turtle in North America. Painted turtles are commonly found in slow-moving freshwater habitats. They have a varied diet, eating primarily insects, fish and aquatic plants. Painted turtles can be observed basking on fallen trees in the Viles Pond.
Brown Bullhead, Ameiurus nebulosus: Bullheads are a small member of the catfish family that are native to Maine. These unique fish use their whiskers, known as barbels, to locate food. Sharp spines located on their pectoral fins help protect them from predators.
Creek Chub, Semotilus atromaculatus: The creek chub is a member of the minnow family. During the majority of the year these gold-brown fish are most easily identified by the black stripe that runs from nose to tail along their lateral line. During the spawning season males will develop reddish coloration on their heads along with blue bumps known as tubercules.
Northern Redbelly Dace, Phoxinus eos: This gorgeous members of the minnow family are distinguished by the two black stripes along their lateral line. During the majority of the year, males have yellow coloration along their belly which can become a crimson red during their spawning season.
Golden Shiner, Notemigonus crysoleucas: These large minnows are distinguishable by their distinctive arched backs, large-shimmery scales and golden-colored fins. Commonly found in slow moving ponds and tributaries throughout the State of Maine.
Also in this tank are several species of macro-invertebrates such as freshwater clams and mussels, dragonfly larvae, snails and more. Most of these invertebrates came in with plant materials and mud that were collected from the pond and help create a more complete ecosystem.
This tank is a valuable educational tool for the team at Viles Arboretum. While it is available during our normal business hours for anyone to view, participants of our summer camp and field trip programs are able to interact in a more hands-on approach as students assist with maintenance and monitoring of the tank. The tank also improves access to environmental education and experiences to those who may not otherwise have the opportunity to engage with them.
You can view this unique feature in our Visitor Center Wednesday-Saturday from 10:30-4:30.