SCIENTIFIC NAME: Fundulus escambiae

CHARACTERISTICS: Male and female russetfin topminnows have several horizontal rows of brown or reddish brown spots extending along the sides of their bodies. Males may also have up to 14 vertical bars between the paired fins and the caudal peduncle; although not always present, these bars are of even width and extend ventrally no farther than the lowest row of spots. Females are characterized by stripes along the sides or, if the stripes are faint or missing, by regular rows of spots. Females may also have light vertical bars on the peduncle, but the bars rarely reach the origin of the anal fin. Red-orange pigment is common between the mouth and the eye. Both sexes have a dark, wedge-shaped spot beneath the eye. The russetfin topminnow and its phylogenetically similar relatives, the bayou topminnow, Fundulus notti, and lined topminnow, F. lineolatus, are members of the F. notti species group (Wiley, 1977).

ADULT SIZE: 1.4 to 2.6 in (35 to 66 mm)

DISTRIBUTION: In Gulf coastal drainages, Fundulus escambiae is distributed from the Perdido River drainage eastward to the Santa Fe River in Florida. We have collected russetfin topminnows sporadically from the Perdido River drainage eastward to the Chattahoochee River drainage. We encountered them more frequently in streams and rivers near the Florida state line.

HABITAT AND BIOLOGY: Individuals of this species inhabit shallow, vegetated areas of slow-moving streams, quiet backwaters, and swamps. Examination of specimens in our collections indicates that spawning occurs in late spring and early summer. The diet, like that of many topminnows, consists of drifting insects (of either aquatic or terrestrial origin), surface-dwelling microcrustaceans, and plant material.

REMARKS: The type locality for the russetfin topminnow is a tributary of the Escambia River at Flomaton, Escambia County.

ORIGINAL DESCRIPTION: Bollman described the russetfin topminnow in 1887.

Fundulus means bottom.
Escambiae is referring to the Escambia River, a coastal river within this species’ range.

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