Fundulus notatus  

blackstripe topminnow



Type Locality

Cumberland and Little Rivers, Kentucky (Rafinesque 1820).


Etymology/Derivation of Scientific Name

Fundulus, from the Latin name Fundus, ;meaning “bottom,” the habitat; notatus, Latin, meaning “spotted” (Pflieger 1997).



Semotilus notatus Rafinesque 1820.

Zygonectus notatus Hay 1881:501, 1883:66; Hubbs and Burnside (1972).

Fundulus notatus Hildebrand and Towers 1928:122; F.A. Cook 1959:151.



Maximum size: 74 mm TL (Braasch and Smith 1965).


Coloration: Spots on body diffuse, color resembles back coloration; body with a distinct dark lateral band (Hubbs et al 1991). Back is yellow to light olive-brown, with a few dark spots. Spots are much less intense than lateral band. Anal and caudal fins either lack spots or have few isolated spots; dorsal fin has a few spots that are generally better developed in basal third of fin. Black lateral band extends forward from base of tail, through eye, and around snout. Underside of body usually unpigmented, except for around anal fin base, and is whitish in females and yellowish in males. Usually small pigment concentrations at base of lower jaw. Males have more yellow pigment on fins and body than do females, with dorsal, anal, and pelvic fins being bright yellow (Carranza and Winn 1954; Ross 2001).


Counts: 30-40 longitudinal scale rows (Hubbs et al 1991); 8-10 gill rakers; 8 (7-9) dorsal rays; 11-12 (10-13) anal rays; 11-13 pectoral rays; 6-7 pelvic rays (Thomerson 1966; Ross 2001).


Body shape: Slender (Ross 2001); males tend to be deeper bodied than females (Braasch and Smith 1965).


Mouth position: Terminal; snout pointed (Ross 2001).


External morphology: Gill slit extending dorsal to uppermost pectoral fin ray; distance from 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); caudal fin rounded (Ross 2001). Posterior dorsal and anal fin rays become elongated in breeding males (Carranza and Winn 1954).


Distribution (Native and Introduced)

U.S. distribution: Occurs in the central United States throughout the Mississippi Basin and adjacent drainages (Hubbs et al 1991).


Texas distribution: Native to eastern Texas from the Red to the San Antonio Basins (Hubbs et al 1991).


Abundance/Conservation status (Federal, State, NGO)

Populations in southern drainages are currently stable (Warren et al. 2000).


Habitat Associations

Macrohabitat: Prefers small to large, lowland, low-gradient streams and sloughs (Braasch and Smith 1965; Shute 1980).


Mesohabitat: Found in water of moderate to high turbidity (Shute 1980). Laboratory experiments show that species can tolerate salinity to 19.4 ppt (Griffith 1974) and shows no signs of distress when maintained in oxygen-depleted subsurface water (Lewis 1970). F. notatus is fairly tolerant of high temperatures and low oxygen levels; has critical thermal maximum of 41.6 degrees C; high temperature tolerance and ability to use the thin film of oxygenated surface water would allow species to survive in isolated summer pools when many other fish would not (Rutledge and Beitinger 1989). Gelwick and Morgan (2000) collected F. notatus from the Sulphur River, Texas, in pool-rootwad, backwater, and backwater-bank snag habitat. Rose and Echelle (1981) found Fundulus notatus to be abundant in clear-water pools of Cowhouse Creek, Texas, as well as sluggish and turbid streams of the upper Leon River, Texas. In Sister Grove Creek (Trinity River basin), an intermittent prairie stream in north-central Texas, F. notatus was the fifth most abundant species collected for the entire year (monthly sampling August 1988-July 1989; Meador and Matthews 1992). During a year-long study in which locations were sampled monthly, Anderson et al. (1983) collected F. notatus exclusively in the tailwaters (Brazos River) below Possum Kingdom Reservoir, Texas. Species collected from intermittent pools and from a littoral area of Garza-Little Elm Reservoir (Denton Co.), Texas (Atmar and Stewart 1972). Knapp (1953) stated the species is to be expected in headwaters and fast streams, in Texas.   



Spawning season: Late spring and summer (Thomerson and Wooldridge 1970; Nieman and Wallace 1974).


Spawning habitat: Open substratum spawners; Phytophils, obligatory plant spawners with adhesive egg envelopes that stick to submerged live or dead plants (Simon 1999).


Spawning behavior: Nonguarders (Simon 1999). Male follows slightly below and behind female as she swims near shoreline. Male occasionally moves ahead of female, or may pause and bob head up and down in front of female. During actual spawning, pair vibrates rapidly for 1-2 seconds; vibration ends with flip of caudal fin, perhaps aiding separation of the mucous thread on egg from the female. Eggs deposited one at a time on algae or other plant material (Carranza and Winn 1954; Foster 1967). 


Fecundity: Female may produce 20-30 eggs over a short time period, repeating the process when more eggs have ripened (Carranza and Winn 1954). Fertilized eggs average 1.8 mm in diameter; adhesive filaments on egg membrane that aid attachment of egg to vegetation; eggs hatch in 7-21 days, usually in 10-14 days (Foster 1967).


Age at maturation: NA


Migration: In Michigan, during the winter, F. notatus inhabits deeper water, apparently in bottom vegetation, migrating in March or early April to the shallow shore zone, with reproductive activity beginning at least by early May (Carranza and Winn 1954).


Growth and Population structure: In Michigan, young grow rapidly during first summer, reaching mean of 41 mm SL; age 1 fish average 54 mm; age 2 fish average 71 mm (Nieman and Wallace 1974).


Longevity: Up to 3 years (Nieman and Wallace 1974).


Food habits: Diet of fish collected from Garza-Little Elm Reservoir (Denton Co.), Texas, included terrestrial arthropods (41%), snails (19%), aquatic insects (16%), microcrustaceans (10%). Individuals smaller than 38 mm SL supplemented terrestrial arthopods with microcrustaceans for 28% of their ration; crustaceans decreased while aquatic insects increased in relative importance as fish size increased. Algae were ingested with 41% frequency, but apparently not digested. Species begins feeding at dawn and continues until midday (Atmar and Stewart 1972). A study by Thomerson and Wooldridge (1970) noted similar results. Goldstein and Simon (1999) list the following food habit information for Fundulus notatus: herbivore/invertivore; particulate feeder/drift; browser/surface feeder; gut is short and straight with single forward loop.


Phylogeny and morphologically similar fishes

Subgenus Zygonectes (Shute 1980). Fundulus olivaceus is a close relative of F. notatus (Tatum et al. 1981; Wiley 1986). The distinct lateral stripe separates F. notatus from all other species of topminnows, except F. olivaceus, the blackspotted topminnow. It differs from F. olivaceus in having fewer and more diffuse spots on the body, with the intensity of the spots much less than the lateral stripe (this character may be of little use in faded museum specimens); also differs in having fewer distinct spots on the dorsal fin, with the spots usually confined to the lower third of the fin (Ross 2001). In Texas, F. notatus may be found in headwaters and fast streams, and F. olivaceus may be found in swifter waters near the Texas coastal plain (Knapp 1953). Hybridization of F. notatus and F. olivaceus recorded where ranges of the two species overlap (Thomerson 1966; 1967; Howell and Black 1981).


Host Records

Trematoda (2; Mayberry et al. 2000).


Commercial or Environmental Importance

[Additional literature noting collection of this species from Texas locations includes, but is not limited to the following: Hubbs (1957); Setzer (1970); Plum Creek Drainage Basin (Whiteside and McNatt 1972); Pine Island Bayou (Kleinsasser and Linam 1987); Cow Bayou (Linam and Kleinsasser 1987); Oyster Creek (Linam and Kleinsasser 1987); Bosque River (Linam and Kleinsasser 1989); Little Pine Island Bayou (Hardin Co.; Bernardi and Powers 1995); Matthews et al. (1996); Brazos River (Gelwick and Li 2002); Sulphur River (Morgan 2002); South Sulphur River (Burgess 2003).]



Anderson, K.A., T.L. Beitinger, and E.G. Zimmerman. 1983. Forage fish assemblages in the Brazos River upstream and downstream from Possum Kingdom Reservoir, Texas. Journal of Freshwater Ecology 2(1):81-88.

Baasch, M. E. and P. W. Smith. 1965. Relationships of the topminnows Fundulus notatus and Fundulus olivaceus in the Upper Mississippi River Valley. Copeia, 1965:46-53.

Bernardi, G., and D.A. Powers. 1995. Phylogenetic relationships among nine species from the genus Fundulus (Cyprinodontiformes, Fundulidae) inferred from sequences of the cytochrome b gene. Copeia 1995(2):469-473.

Burgess, C.C. 2003. Summer fish assemblage in channelized and unchannelized reaches of the South Sulphur River, Texas. Master of Science Thesis. Texas A&M University, College Station, 94 pp.

Carranza, J. and H. E. Winn. 1954. Reproductive behavior of the blackstripe topminnow, Fundulus notatus. Copeia. 1954(4):273-278.

Cook, F.A. 1959. Freshwater Fishes in Mississippi. Mississippi Game and Fish Commission, Jackson. 239 pp.

Foster, N. R. 1967. Comparative studies on the biology of killifishes (Pisces, Cyprinodontidae). PhD. diss., Cornell Univ., Ithaca, N.Y.

Gelwick, F.P., and M.N. Morgan. 2000. Microhabitat use and community structure of fishes downstream of the proposed George Parkhouse I and Marvin Nichols I reservoir sites on the Sulphur River, TX. Report to Texas Water Development Board. 90 pp.

Gelwick, F.P., and R.Y. Li. 2002. Mesohabitat use and community structure of Brazos River fishes in the vicinity of the proposed Allens Creek Reservoir. Report to the Texas Water Development Board. 25 pp.

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 tolerance in the genus Fundulus. Copeia 1974(2):319-331.

Hay, O.P. 1881. On a collection of fishes from eastern Mississippi. Proc. U.S. Nat. Mus. 3:488-515.

Hay, O.P. 1883. On a collection of fishes from the lower Mississippi valley. Bull. U.S. Fish Comm. 2:57-75.

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.

Howell, W.M., and A. Black. 1981. Karyotypes in populations of the cyprinodontid fishes of the Fundulus notatus species-complex: a geographical analysis. Bull. Ala. Mus. Nat. Hist. 6:19-30.

Hubbs, C. 1957. Distributional patterns of Texas fresh-water fishes. The Southwestern Naturalist 2(2-3):89-104.

Hubbs, C., and D.F. Burnside. 1972. Developmental sequences of Zygonectes notatus at several temperatures. Copeia 1972(4):862-865.

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

Kleinsasser, L.J., and G.W. Linam. 1987. Fisheries use attainability study for Pine Island Bayou (segment 0607). River Studies Report No. 6. Resource Protection Division. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Austin. 21 pp.

Lewis, W.M., Jr. 1970. Morphological adaptations of cyprinodontoids for inhabiting oxygen deficient waters. Copeia 1970(2):319-326.

Linam, G.W., and L.J. Kleinsasser. 1987. Fisheries use attainability study for Cow Bayou (segment 0511). River Studies Report No. 5. Resource Protection Division. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Austin. 14 pp.

Linam, G.W., and L.J. Kleinsasser. 1987. Fisheries use attainability study for Oyster Creek (segment 1110). River Studies Report No. 3. Resource Protection Division. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Austin. 15 pp.

Linam, G.W., and L.J. Kleinsasser. 1989. Fisheries use attainability study for the Bosque River. River Studies Report No. 4. Resource Protection Division. Texas Parks and Wildlife, Austin. 24 pp.

Matthews, W., M. Schorrs, M. Meador. 1996. Effects of experimentally enhanced flows on fishes of a small Texas (U.S.A.) stream: assessing the impact of interbasin transfer. Freshwater Biology 35(2):349-362.

Mayberry, L. F., A. G. Canaris, and J. R. Bristol. 2000. Bibliography of parasites and vertebrate host in Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas (1893-1984). University of Nebraska Harold W. Manter Laboratory of Parasitology Web Server pp. 1-100.

Meador, M.R., and W.J. Matthews. 1992. Spatial and temporal patterns in fish assemblage structure of an intermittent Texas stream. American Midland Naturalist 127(1):106-114.

Morgan, M.N. 2002. Habitat associations of fish assemblages in the Sulphur River, Texas. Master’s Thesis. Texas A&M University, College Station. 58 pp.

Nieman, R. L. and D. C. Wallace. 1974. The age and growth of the blackstripe topminnow, Fundulus notatus Rafinesque. Amer. Midl. Nat. 92(I):203-205.

Pflieger, W. L. 1997. The Fishes of Missouri. Missouri Department of Conservation, Jefferson City, 372 pp.

Rafinesque, C.S. 1820. Ichthyologia Ohiensis, or natural history of the fishes inhabiting the River Ohio and its tributary streams, preceded by a physical description of the Ohio and its branches. W.G. Hunt, Lexington, Kentucky.

Rose, D.R., and A.A. Echelle. 1981. Factor analysis of associations of fishes in Little River, central Texas, with an interdrainage comparison. American Midland Naturalist 106(2):379-391.

Ross, S. T. 2001. The Inland Fishes of Mississippi. University Press of Mississippi, Jackson. 624 pp.

Rutledge, C.J., and T.L. Beitinger. 1989. The effects of dissolved oxygen and aquatic surface respiration on the critical thermal maxima of three intermittent-stream fish. Environmental Biology of Fishes 24(2):137-143.

Setzer, P.Y. 1970. An analysis of a natural hybrid swarm by means chromosome morphology. Trans. Amer. Fish. Soc. 99(1):139-146.

Shute, J. R. 1980. Fundulus notatus (Rafinesque), Blackstripe topminnow. pp. 521 in D. S. Lee, et al. Atlas of North American Freshwater Fishes. N. C. State Mus. Nat. Hist., Raleigh, i-r+854 pp.

Simon, T. P. 1999. Assessment of Balon’s reproductive guilds with application to Midwestern North American Freshwater Fishes, pp. 97-121. In: Simon, T.L. (ed.). Assessing the sustainability and biological integrity of water resources using fish communities. CRC Press. Boca Raton, Florida. 671 pp.

Tatum, F. M., R. Lindahl, and H. Boschung. 1981. An isozyme analysis of several southeastern populations of the cyprinodont fishes of the Fundulus notatus complex. Bull. Alabama Mus. Nat. Hist. 6:31-35.

Thomerson, J.E. 1966. A comparative biosystematic study of Fundulus notatus and Fundulus olivaceus (Pisces: Cyprinodontidae). Tulane Stud. Zool. 13(1):29-47.

Thomerson, J. E. 1967. Hybrids between the cyprinodontid fishes, Fundulus notatus and Fundulus olivaceus in southern Illinois. Ill. St. Acad. Sci. 60(4):375-379.

Thomerson, J. E. and D. P. Wooldridge. 1970. Food habits of allotopic and syntopic populations of the topminnows Fundulus olivaceus and Fundulus notatus. American Midland Naturalist. 84(2):573-576.

Warren, M.L. 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.

Whiteside, B.G., and R.M. McNatt. 1972. Fish species diversity in relation to stream order and physicochemical conditions in the Plum Creek Drainage Basin. American Midland Naturalist 88(1):90-101.

Wiley, E. O. 1986. A study of the evolutionary relationship of Fundulus topminnows (Teleostei: Fundulidae). Amer. Zool. 26(1):121-130.