Re: NANFA-- Mean Fish - Fundulus lineolatus

Doug Dame (
Mon, 29 Jan 2001 11:40:18 -0500

Jeff from PA ( wrote (in part):

>> These fish are almost evil. I would be tempted to nominate
>> the Eastern Starhead to the Topminnow monarchy of Nasty
>> but it may very well have a close contender that is also a
>> close relative : the Lined Topminnow - F. lineolatus. According
>> to Mike Thennet who is working with stock he collected in
>> southern Virginia "these fish are really mean"! They even
>> proved problematic at getting along with conspecifics in his
>> tanks!
>> F. lineolatus is also a southern species that no doubt shares
>> many of the pressures as F. escambiae. When you live in a
>> jungle that is seething with life as opposed to a system where
>> life is less abundant you have to be a fast mover and a
>> go-getter to survive!

Interesting things, fishes .... my experience with (also wild-caught, but from Florida) Fundulus lineolatus has been very different to date.

I have a couple of pairs in a well-planted 33-G community tank, and have not seen ANY significant anti-social behavior from the lineolatus in the five or six months they're been in there, either towards themselves or the other fish species.

Other residents are a trio of native mollies, 8 or 9 Lucania goodei (bluefin killies), a couple of juvenile F. chrysotus, a couple of juvenile flagfish, a few small sunfish (prob Enneacanthus gloriosus) and even some Heterandria formosa. (However, the male Heters did disappear, leaving only big females, to the extent that Heter ever qualify to be called "big".) So the lineolatus possibly see themselves as being the biggest fish in the tank, although the mollies are close and are more massive.

I think much has to do with the amount of space and cover in the tank. Most of my lot went in together in the initial stocking, and the tank had a lot of plants from the git-go, so everybody wasn't visually in everybody's face all the time. Of course, introducing just a couple of new fish to a well-established pecking order can be difficult, even with fish that aren't overtly territorial. And F. lineolatus behavior-wise really are a 'top minnow", so for them carrying capacity needs to be based on surface area, not tank volume. I've also kept 'em in 2's and 10's, and my impression is that they're not at all happy in the small tanks .... they're a fish that seems to like to be moving in a forwards direction most all the time.

Bottom-line ... F. lineolatus hasn't shown me that they're conspicuous trouble-makers. (In my tanks, Cyprinodon variegatus, the sheepshead minnow, wins the title for Mr. Cranky, no contest.)

Doug Dame
Interlachen FL

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