Latin name

Fundulus heteroclitus

Other names



The fins have soft rays like cyprinids, but killifish have scales on the head and no lateral lines. Typical members of the family have a flattened head and the mouth is open upward, which is an adaptation for surface feeding. Some species are used as bait, and many tropical species are kept in aquariums.


They are most abundant in warm climates, but some species are also found in temperate regions. The best known of these is the mummichog (Fundulus heteroclitus), found along the Atlantic coast from Florida to Labrador. It can tolerate salinity up to 35 parts per thousand. The mummichog is notable for its habit of burrowing into the silt on the bottom, sometimes to a depth of 6 inches or more in winter.


Killifish move in groups, usually in shallow waters, and are an important link in the food webs of wetlands and estuaries. They are significant prey for shorebirds, crabs, and larger fish. Many species are prized for mosquito control because they feed on the surface and consume insect larvae and small invertebrates. Killifish are also among the species most resistant to high turbidity and low oxygen levels. Many Killifishes live in both brackish and fresh water.


The mummichog (Fundulus heteroclitus) is a species ranging in size from 3 to 5 inches. On the Pacific coast, the California Killifish (F. parvipinnis) is similar in size and behavior to the mummichog and occupies the same ecological niche. The largest representation of cyprinodonts in North America is in Florida. Notable among them are the flagship fish (Jordanella floridae), a short-bodied, almost sunfish-like fish reaching a maximum length of 3 inches, and the pygmy killifish (Leptolucania ommata), a slender fish that rarely exceeds 11⁄2 inches in length.

Life history and Behavior

No information

Food and feeding habits

No information


No information

Phylum Chordata
Class Actinopterygii
Squad Cyprinodontiformes
Family Fundulidae
Genus Fundulus
Species F. heteroclitus
Conservation status Least Concern
Habitat Pelagic
Life span, years No information
Maximum body weight, kg No information
Maximum length, cm 15
Sailing speed, m/s No information
Threat to people Edible
Way of eating Predator

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Tags: Killifish