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Similarities And Differences Among New York's Smaller Unusual Fish

Similiarities and differences among New York's smaller unusual fish species
Species Description Habitat Reproduction Feeding Comments/ Fishing Information
Mosquitofish 1-2" long

Gray and brown with some dark spots

Mouth located on upper side of head

Male has modified, tube-like anal fin
Found in small water bodies in slow moving or stagnant water Long spawning season - females produce 2-4 broods per year

Only freshwater fish that gives birth to young rather than laying eggs

Males use modified anal fin to fertilize females

Young born 3-4 weeks after mating

Young do not have egg sac; rather they look like miniature adults
Surface feeder

Mostly eats mosquito larvae
Limited in range to New York City and Long Island

First introduced into New York waters as a biological control for mosquitos

Only freshwater fish in New York that gives birth to young rather than laying eggs
Banded Killifish 2-3" long

Brown in color, fading to yellow/white on belly

Flattened head with up-turned mouth and large eyes

12-20 dark vertical bars on sides
Weedy shallows of lakes and ponds and slower-moving portions of streams Spawns in May in weedy areas of quiet water

Males become quite aggressive

Females initially lay a single large egg that is attached to the body by a thin thread. After some chasing, 5-10 more eggs are released. Eggs break free and sink into vegetation

No parental care is given
Eats insects, snails and flatworms

Often feeds in schools
Similar in appearance to female mosquitofish

When frightened, will sometimes dive into the soft bottom

Occasionally used as bait
Central Mudminnow 2-4" long

Robust, almost round body shape

Generally dark brown with mottled sides. During spawning, body has metallic green sheen

Prominent black bar at base of tail
Occurs in heavily vegetated ponds or pools in creeks and rivers. Also found in swamps and isolated stagnant pools Spawns in April in shallow, weedy water at the edge of ponds and streams

The sticky eggs are scattered over vegetation

No parental care is given
Bottom feeder. Primarily eats aquatic insects, mollusks and other small aquatic organisms

Similar to pike, it remains motion-less in vegetation and darts out to grab food
When disturbed, the mudminnow dives into the soft muck bottom

A hardy fish, it can survive in waters where other fish cannot - such as swamps and stagnant pools. Can gulp air at water's surface

Sometimes used as bait
Brook Silverside 3-4" long

Slender, nearly transparent fish

Large eyes and long, almost beak-like jaw

Bright silver streak runs along sides
Weedy areas of streams and lakes

Found at water's surface

Prefers clear water
Spawns June-July

Males defend territories and mate with females after a short chase that usually includes leaping out of the water

Orange colored eggs are deposited over aquatic vegetation. Eggs contain oil globules and a long adhesive filament that acts as an anchoring device
Eats small aquatic animals and insects

Leaps out of water when chasing flying insects
Short-lived; most silversides only reach one year of age
American Brook Lamprey 6-8" long

Long cylindrical, worm-like body

Blue/gray or muddy brown in color

Skin is smooth and leathery: no scales

Disc-like mouth with poorly developed teeth
Found in clear, cold brooks and small streams Spawns in spring

Male (sometimes aided by female) builds nest. Uses mouth to deposit pebbles to form rim of shallow depression

The sticky eggs are deposited in the nest and adhere to the sand and gravel

Adults die after spawning
Young lamprey (called ammocoetes) burrow into sand and silt to feed on microscopic plant & animal life & detritus. Remain there for 5 years

Ammocoetes change (metamorphose) into sexually mature adult fish that cannot eat
Only non-parasitic lamprey in New York

Spotty distribution - found in Allegheny and upper Genesee River system as well as some tributaries of Seneca and Cayuga Lakes. The St. Lawrence River, Lake Champlain and the New York City area.
Pirate Perch 2-3" long

Stubby, heavy bodies in appearance

Dark, purple brown in color

Small eyes; large, up-turned mouth

Bone near gill cover (preopercle) has saw-toothed edge

Body openings (anus & urogenital) located far up on body; between gill openings
Shallow, weedy water areas with slow current and plenty of soft muck and organic material Spawns in May

Both sexes build a nest

Adults guard eggs and young
Eats insects and an occasional small fish

Feeds mostly at night
Only found in two areas of New York State; a few small streams west of Rochester, and numerous Long Island streams
Brook Stickleback 1.5-3" long

Olive green to jet black with light spots or wavy lines

Prominent mouth and large eyes

4-6 spines on front portion of dorsal fin

Smooth body - no scales. Tiny, bony plates on sides
Clear, cold water wherever dense vegetation is common Very interesting spawning ritual

Male builds golf ball-sized nest of dead grass, fine fibers and algae held together by kidney secretions

The male nips, butts and nudges the female into the nest, then chases her away after the eggs are deposited

Male fans eggs and then defends young until they leave nest
Mostly carnivorous - eats aquatic insects, eggs and fish larvae Found statewide except in high Adirondacks, Catskills and New York City and Long Island areas

Occasionally used as bait