SCIENTIFIC NAME: Fundulus chrysotus

CHARACTERISTICS: The golden topminnow is a colorful species. On adult males, the caudal peduncle has many brown to brown-orange blotches and stipples, which become more numerous at the caudal fin base. The opercles are generally yellowish green, while the membranes of the dorsal, anal, and caudal fins have alternately light and dark brown stippling. The caudal fin has a faint tangerine color that fades near the margin. Twelve or fewer wavy, sometimes irregularly spaced vertical bars may mark the sides. On females, the body is greenish olive, and fins are translucent; they are otherwise not colored except for varying numbers of distinctly bright “pearl” spots scattered randomly along their sides. The golden topminnow is easily confused with the banded topminnow, Fundulus auroguttatus, but the banded topminnow has more vertical bars that are straighter, narrower, and more distinct; it also has a more rounded, shorter head shape and a mandibular pore formula of 3-3 (compared to 4-4 for the golden topminnow).

ADULT SIZE: 1.2 to 2.2 in (30 to 56 mm)

DISTRIBUTION: Fundulus chrysotus occurs throughout Florida, north along the coast of Georgia and South Carolina, and west along the Gulf Coast to Texas. It also occurs in the lower Mississippi River basin north to Tennessee and Arkansas. In Alabama, F. chrysotus is limited to tributaries and backwaters of the Mobile Delta, Mobile Bay, and coastal lowland systems.

HABITAT AND BIOLOGY: The golden topminnow prefers quiet ponds and backwaters with extensive accumulations of aquatic vegetation. Our most lucrative collections came from permanently vegetated ponds situated between old beach dune systems along Fort Morgan peninsula in Baldwin County. Golden topminnows feed on insects and aquatic invertebrates at or near the surface (Hunt, 1953). Spawning occurs in late spring through summer, with spawning pairs preferring roots of floating plants or the stems of plants such as Myriophyllum. Eggs are extruded and fertilized singly, with about 10 to 20 eggs produced on a daily basis for a week or more per spawning episode (Breder and Rosen, 1966.)

ORIGINAL DESCRIPTION: Gunther described the golden topminnow in 1866.

Fundulus means bottom.
Chrysotus means golden ear, referring to the golden color of the gill covers.

The copyrighted information above is from Fishes of Alabama and the Mobile Basin.