SCIENTIFIC NAME: Hybognathus hayi
CHARACTERISTICS: The cypress minnow has a compressed body and an angular profile. The scales form a distinct diamond-shaped pattern on the sides; the melanophores on the front of the lateral band are small and only slightly larger than those on the upper sides and back. The broadly rounded snout does not project beyond the upper lip, and the mouth is upturned. The anal and dorsal fins are placed more anteriorly on the cypress minnow than those on the similar Mississippi silvery minnow, Hybognathus nuchalis. Fingerman and Suttkus (1961) and Burr and Mayden (1982a) provide additional information on differentiating H. hayi from H. nuchalis. See Jordan (1885b) for original description.
ADULT SIZE: 2.6 to 3.9 in (65 to 100 mm)
DISTRIBUTION: The cypress minnow is distributed throughout Gulf slope drainages from the Sabine River drainage east to the Escambia River basin, including the lower Mississippi River basin and portions of the Tennessee and Ohio river drainages. In Alabama the cypress minnow has been documented in the Mobile basin below the Fall Line, sporadically in the Conecuh River drainage, and in the Tennessee River drainage. It was frequently collected in the Tombigbee River before that river’s impoundment, but its current status there is unknown. The status of populations in the Tennessee River drainage is also unknown, since all available records date from before the river’s impoundment.
HABITAT AND BIOLOGY: Hybognathus hayi has been found in large, somewhat turbid steams and rivers, sloughs, and overflow pools. Kemp and Hubbs (1954) indicate that it generally prefers quiet waters with little or no flow over muddy bottoms. This contrasts with H. nuchalis, which occurs in both quiet pools and flowing streams (Fingerman and Suttkus, 1961). Little is known of the reproductive biology or diet of the cypress minnow in Alabama. R. D. Suttkus (personal communication) reports spawning from late December to early March in the Pearl River drainage, Mississippi, with adults congregating in December and January before moving to spawning areas. Aspects of the cypress minnow’s ecology are similar to those of H. nuchalis, which spawns from January through March and feeds on a variety of organisms inhabiting muddy bottoms.
ORIGINAL DESCRIPTION: Jordan described the cypress minnow in 1885.
Hybognathus means swollen jaw.
Hayi is in honor of O. P. Hay, noted ichthyologist and discoverer of the species.
The copyrighted information above is from Fishes of Alabama and the Mobile Basin.