Banded killifish
Fundulus diaphanus (Lesueur, 1817)

member of the Killifish Family (Fundulidae)

Long Meadow Lake outlet, Hennepin County, Minnesota 22 May 1990

photo by Konrad Schmidt













What's In a Name?
Banded killifish: refers to the vertical stripes or banding on them

Fundulus (fun´-due-lus) from Fundus, meaning "bottom" in Latin
(die-af´-ann-us) means "transparent" in Greek


    Where Do They Live?
Banded killifish are most common in the central and southern portions of the state and are rare to nonexistent in the cold waters of the northern portion of the state. 

They live in lakes of all sizes, in the still backwaters of large rivers, and sections of streams (medium to large) where current is sluggish. They typically prefer shallow, clear, waters with a sandy to gravely bottom and large amounts of vegetation.



How Big Do They Get?
How Long Do They Live?
This little fish only reaches a length of about 60 to 80 mm (2 to 3 in) and a weight of only a few grams. Females grow larger than males. Banded killifish typically live a little more than 2 years; a very few live as long as 3 years.

    What Do They Eat?
Adult banded killifish eat a variety of items including small crustaceans (ostracods, copepods, and amphipods), aquatic insects (midge larvae, caddisfly larvae, and dragonfly nymphs), mayfly nymphs, flying insects, and plant seeds. They eat from all parts of the water column, including the surface. The diet of young banded killifish is limited to fewer items, such as ostracods, copepods, and midge larvae.  Both young and adults tend to feed mostly actively in the afternoon.

What Eats Them?
Banded killifish are very important because they are food for many different game fishes, such as largemouth bass, northern pike, and trout. Because of their strong schooling behavior, banded killifish are commonly eaten by many fish-eating birds, such as kingfishers, mergansers and herons.  Even mudpuppies (an aquatic salamander) have been known to dine on them occasionally.


How Do They Reproduce?
The spawning season begins in June and lasts to mid-August. Spawning sites vary but usually are in shallow water in an area of vegetation. 

Males often fight each other for females, but they do little harm to one another. The winning male pushes the female toward nearby vegetation, where they both vibrate. The male releases sperm at the same time the female releases 5 to 10 eggs. These eggs have adhesive threads which become tangled in the vegetation. They repeat the spawning act until the female has laid an entire clutch, which may be 50 eggs or more. A single female may lay several clutches during the summer. 

The embryos are left with no parental care at all and hatch in 10 to 12 days depending on the water temperature. Larvae are about 6 to 7 mm long when they hatch.


Conservation and Management
Banded Killifish are fairly common in Minnesota; so they have no special conservation status. They are an important forage fish for several sportfish species, including largemoth bass and northern pike. They are not used as a bait species, however, because they do not keep well in bait buckets.




Permission is granted for the non-commercial educational or scientific use of the text and images on this Web document. Please credit the author or authors listed below.

Photographs by Konrad P. Schmidt
Text by Nicole Paulson & Jay T. Hatch in cooperation with
the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources' MinnAqua Aquatic Program

This page developed with funds from the
MinnAqua Program (Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Division of Fisheries)
and the
Sport Fish Restoration Program (Fish and Wildlife Service, US Department of the Interior)

Maintained by Jay T. Hatch
General College and James Ford Bell Museum of Natural History
University of Minnesota, Minneapolis/St. Paul

Last updated 23 October 2002