Fundulus chrysotus

golden topminnow



Type Locality

Charleston, Charleston Co., South Carolina (Günther 1866).


Etymology/Derivation of Scientific Name

Fundulus, from the Latin name Fundus, meaning bottom the habitat; chrysotus, Greek meaning “gilded” or “golden.”



Zygonectes (Ghedotti and Grose 1997).

Haplochilus chrysotus Günther 1866:317

Fundulus chrysotus F.A.Cook 1959:149

Fundulus kompi Hildebrand and Towers 1928:122 (original description).



Maximum size: 71mm SL (Foster 1976).


Life colors: Dark spots on body absent or small and not in rows; body mottled, barred or irregularly spotted; body barred or not but never with a dark spot on dorsal part of caudal peduncle (Hubbs et al.1991). The back is olive and has dark, narrow, predorsal stripe. There are considerable color differences between the sexes. Males have 7-11 vertical bars (often faint) and a scattering of red dots on the sides; both are best developed posteriorly. Males also have flecks of iridescent blue or gold along the sides of the head and body. The undersides of the head and body are white or silver. The caudal fin has four or five rows of red spots, and there are spots on both the dorsal and anal fins. Fins are yellow to white. The pectoral and pelvic fins are generally unpigmented, except for small melanophores along the fins rays. Females and juveniles lack the vertical bar, gold flecks, and red spots, but may have smaller bluish spots on the sides. Both sexes lack a suborbital bar and horizontal lateral band (Ross 2001).


Counts: Usually 10 anal fin rays; fewer than 15 scale rows from pelvic fin origin to isthmus; 30-40 longitudinal scale rows (Hubbs et al., 1991).


Body shape: Slender (Ross 2001). Eye contained fewer than one and one half times in snout (Hubbs et al. 1991).


Mouth position: Supraterminal (Goldstein and Simon 1999).


External morphology: Dorsal fin originating posterior to anal fin origin; gill slit extending dorsal to uppermost pectoral fin ray; distance of origin of dorsal fin to end of hypural plate less than distance from origin of dorsal fin to preopercle or occasionally about equal to that distance (Hubbs et al. 1991).


Distribution (Native and Introduced)

U.S. distribution: Native to coastal drainages from South Carolina, Florida, and Georgia, west to Texas and north to southeastern Missouri (Hubbs et al. 1991).


Texas distribution: From Sabine River southward into coastal streams to the Guadalupe River (Hubbs et al. 1991).


Abundance/Conservation status (Federal, State, NGO):

Not listed as threatened or endangered by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

(2006). Populations in the southern United States are currently stable (Warren et al. 2000).


Habitat Associations

Macrohabitat: Inhabits backwaters and pools of ditches and slow moving streams. Occasionally found in brackish water along the coast (Shute 1980).


Mesohabitat: Associated with heavy submergent vegetation (Shute 1980). Species has an upper salinity tolerance of 20 ppt (Kilby 1955; Griffith 1974).



Spawning season: April to July or even September (Foster 1967; Hellier 1967; De Vlaming et al. 1978).


Spawning habitat: Leitholf (1917) described reproductive activities in aquaria and noted that eggs were deposited on submerged plants, stones and side of aquarium.


Reproductive strategy: Eggs laid a few at a time over a period of a week or more (Pflieger 1975). Eggs are released and fertilized one at a time, usually deposited on the roots of floating plants or on any fibrous material. Eggs have a yellow tinge and adhesive threads attached to the egg membrane (Leitholf 1917; Foster 1967).


Fecundity: 10-20 fertilized eggs per day (Leitholf 1917).


Age at maturation: 10 months (Foster 1967).




Growth and population structure: Rapid; individuals reaching 30 mm SL within 3 months (Foster 1967).


Longevity: 2 years (Foster 1967).


Food habits: Trophic classifications, mode, and feeding behavior from Goldstein and Simon (1999): Invertivore; drift, surface feeder; primarily a surface feeder. Feeds mainly on crawling water beetles (Haliplidae) and midge larvae (Chironomidae), near or at the surface (Hunt 1953).


Phylogeny and morphologically similar fishes:

Fundulus chrysotus is in the subgenus Zygonectes. Based on allozyme data. the F. chrysotus clade (including two other species) is the sister of the F. notti clade (Cashner et al. 1992). An analysis using mitochondrial DNA, morphology, and chromosomal data placed F. chrysotus as the basal member of the subgenus Zygonectes (Ghedotti and Grose 1997).


Host Records:

Trematoda: Ascocolyte angrense (larval),Creptotrema funduli, Diplostomulum sp.(larval), Posthodiplostomum minimum (larval).

Nematoda: Camallanus sp. (immature adults), Contracaecum spiculigerum (larval)

Acanthocephala: Leptorhynchoides thecatus (larval) (Hoffman 1967).


Commercial or Environmental Importance

Make excellent aquarium fish (Leitholf 1917).



Cashner, R.C., J.S. Rogers, and J.M. Grady 1992. Phylogenic studies of the genus Fundulus, pp. 421-437. In: Systematics, historical ecology, and North American freshwater fishes. R.L. Mayden ed. Stanford Univ. Press, Stanford, Calif.

Cook, F.A. 1959. Freshwater fishes in Mississippi. Mississippi Game and Fish Commission, Jackson.

De Vlaming, V.L., A. Kuris, and F.R. Parker Jr. 1978. Seasonal variation of reproduction and lipid reserves in some subtropical cyprinodontids. Trans. Amer. Fish. Soc. 107(3):464-472.

Foster, N.R. 1967. Comparative studies on the biology of killifishes (Pisces: Cyprinodontidae). Ph.D. diss. Cornell Univ. Ithaca, N.Y. 391 pp.

Ghedotti, M.J. and M.J. Grose. 1997. Phylogenic relationship of the Fundulus notti species group (Fundulidae: Cyprinodontiformes) as inferred from cytochrome b gene. Copeia 1997(4):858-862.

Goldstein, R.M., and T.P. Simon. 1999. Toward a united definition of guild structure for feeding ecology of North American freshwater fishes. pp. 123-202 in T.P. Simon, editor. Assessing the sustainability and biological integrity of water resources using fish communities. CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida.

Griffith, R.W. 1974. Environment and salinity tolerances in the genus Fundulus. Copeia 1974(2):319-331.

Günther, A. 1866. On the fishes of the states of Central America, founded upon specimens collected in the in the fresh and marine waters of various parts of the country by Messrs. Slavin and Godman and Capt. J.M.Dow. Proc. Zool. Soc. London 1966(3):600-604.

Hellier, T.R. Jr. 1967. The fishes of the Santa Fe river system. Bull. Fla. State Mus. Biol. Ser. 2(1):1-46.

Hildebrand, S.F. and I.L. Towers. 1928. Annotated list of fishes collected in the vicinity of Greenwood Mississippi, with descriptions of three new species. Bull. U.S. Bur. Fish. 43(2)105-136.

Hoffman G.L. 1967. Parasites of North American Freshwater Fishes. University of California Press. Berkeley and Los Angeles, CA. 486 pp.

Hubbs, C., R.J. Edwards and G.P. Garret. 1991. An annotated checklist of freshwater fishes of Texas, with key to identification of species. Texas Journal of Science, Supplement 43(4):1-56.

Hunt, B. P. 1953. Food relationships between Florida Spotted Gar and other organisms in the Tamiami Canal, Dade County, Florida.Trans. Amer. Fish. Soc. 82(1952):13-33.

Kilby, J. D. 1955. The fishes of two gulf coastal marsh areas of Florida. Tulane Stud. Zool. 2(8):175-247.

Leitholf, E. 1917. Fundulus chrysotus. Aquatic Life 2(11):141-142.

Pflieger, W.L. 1975. The Fishes of Missouri. Missouri Department of Conservation. Columbia. 343 pp.

Ross, S.T. 2001. Inland fishes of Mississippi. University Press of Mississippi, Jackson Mississippi. 355-356 pp.

Shute, J.R. 1980. Fundulus chrystotus (Günther), Golden topminnow. pp. 510 in D.S. Lee et al. Atlas of North American Freshwater Fishes. N.C. State Mus. Nat. Hist., Raleigh, i-r+854 pp.

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Wildlife Division, Diversity and Habitat Assessment Programs. County Lists of Texas' Special Species. [30 May 2006]

Warren, L. W., Jr., B. M. Burr, S. J. Walsh, H. L. Bart, Jr., R. C. Cashner, D. A. Etnier, B. J. Freeman, B. R. Kuhajda, R. L. Mayden, H. W. Robison, S. T. Ross, and W. C. Starnes. 2000. Diversity, Distribution, and Conservation status of the native freshwater fishes of the southern United States. Fisheries 25(10):7-29.