A member of the Hiodontidae family, the mooneye is a close relative and very similar in appearance to the better known goldeye (see). It is most important as forage for assorted predator species. Its flesh is soft and bony and of no human food value, and it is not a target of anglers. Though often called a herring or a shad, it is neither.
Identification. The mooneye is a small fish whose compressed body is deep in proportion to its length and is covered with large, loose scales. Dark blue to blue green over the back, it is silvery on the sides and tapers to white on the belly. It has a small head and a short, bluntly rounded snout with a small terminal mouth, containing many sharp teeth on the jaws and the tongue.
The color of its eyes and the position of its anal fin distinguish it from the goldeye. The irises of the large eyes of the mooneye are silver colored (unlike the gold-colored irises of the goldeye). The mooneye's dorsal fin begins before the anal fin (the goldeye's begins opposite or behind its anal fin). The mooneye can be distinguished from the gizzard shad by not having a dorsal fin ray projection.
Size/Age. Mooneye are slightly larger on average than goldeye and are often found to be 2 pounds in weight, although their maximum attainable size is uncertain. They may live at least 10 years.
Spawning behavior. Mooneye spawn in the spring, moving up tributary rivers or streams.
Food. This species feeds on plankton, insects, and small fish. Small mooneye are preyed upon by large predators, including walleye, pike, catfish, and salmon.
Distribution. Endemic to North America, mooneye occur in the St. Lawrence-Great Lakes region (except Lake Superior), the Mississippi River drainage, and the Hudson Bay basin from Quebec to Alberta, and southward to the Gulf of Mexico. Mooneye are also present in Gulf Slope drainages from Mobile Bay, Alabama, to Lake Pontchar-train, Louisiana.
Habitat. Mooneye inhabit deep, warm, silty sections of medium and large rivers, the backwaters of shallow lakes connected to them, and impoundments.
Gambusia affinis affinis
The mosquitofish is a member of the large Poeciliidae family of livebearers, which is closely related to killifish or cyprinodonts, differing from them mainly in bringing forth its young alive, rather than laying eggs.
Also known as the North American topminnow or the western mosquitofish, this species is famous as the number-one scourge of mosquito larvae. Although there are other larvae-eating species of fish, the mosquitofish tolerates salinity and pollution levels that would kill most other species, and it produces up to 1,500 young in its lifetime.
Native to the southeastern United States, the mosqui-tofish has been introduced to suitable warm waters around the world since 1905, when it was experimentally introduced to Hawaii and virtually eliminated mosquitoes. As a result, Gambusia affinis affinis is the widest-ranging freshwater fish on earth (other species of mosquitofish have not been as successfully introduced). It has most recently been introduced in many places to help control West Nile virus.
Female mosquitofish are about 2 inches long, and the males are only half as large. The anal fin of the male is modified to form an intermittent organ for introducing sperm into the female. A mature female may produce three or four broods during one season, sometimes giving birth to 200 or more young at a time. This fish is easily raised in aquariums and is not sensitive to temperature variations, but it does not adjust well to living with other fish.
Although it has been highly effective at controlling malarial mosquitoes, the mosquitofish is not a panacea. Mosquitofish larvae cannot survive without water (as mosquito larvae can), they do not control mosquitoes in places with abundant surface vegetation to hide mosquito larvae, they may consume the young of forage and game species, and they can have adverse effects on indigenous fish species.
Mullet belong to the Mugilidae family, a group of roughly 70 species whose members range worldwide in shallow, warm seas. A few species live in freshwater and some are reared in ponds. All are good food fish, especially in smoked form, although smaller ones may be too bony to eat. Mullet roe is considered a delicacy. Mullet are important food fish for many predator species, and anglers use them alive or dead, in chunks or strips, as bait.
Identification. The striped mullet (Mugil cephalus) is bluish gray or green along the back, shading to silver on the sides, and white below. Also known as the black mullet, or fat-back, it has indistinct horizontal black bars, or stripes, on its sides; the fins are lightly scaled at the base and unscaled above; the nose is blunt and the mouth small; and the second dorsal fin originates behind that of the anal fin. It is similar to the smaller fantail mullet (M. gyrans) and the white mullet (M. curema), both of which have black blotches at the base of their pectoral fins, a characteristic that is lacking in the striped mullet.
The fantail mullet has an olive-green back with a bluish tint, shading to silvery on the sides and white below. Its anal and pelvic fins are yellowish; there's a dark blotch at the base of the pectoral fin; the mouth has an inverted V-shape; and the second dorsal fin originates behind the anal fin.
The white mullet, also known as silver mullet, is bluish gray on the back, fading to silvery on the sides and white below. It lacks stripes; small scales extend onto its soft dorsal and anal fins; there's a dark blotch at the base of the pectoral fin; and the second dorsal fin originates behind the anal fin.
Size. The striped mullet may reach a length of 3 feet and weigh as much as 12 pounds, although the largest specimens have come from aquariums. Roe specimens in the
Distribution. The striped mullet is cosmopolitan in all warm seas worldwide and is the only member of the mullet family found off the Pacific coast of the United States. The fantail mullet occurs in the western Atlantic in Bermuda, and from Florida and the northern Gulf of Mexico to Brazil. The white mullet is found in the western Atlantic in Bermuda and from Massachusetts south to Brazil, including the Gulf of Mexico; in the eastern Atlantic from Gambia to the Congo; and in the eastern Pacific from the Gulf of California, Mexico, to Iquique, Chile.
wild are common to 3 pounds, but most striped mullet weigh closer to a pound. The fantail mullet is small and usually weighs less than a pound. The white mullet is similar in size to the fantail.
Life history/Behavior. Mullet are schooling fish found inshore in coastal environs. Many, but not all, species have the unusual habit of leaping from the water as they race along in schools. Some have stiff bodies when they jump and fall back into the water with a loud splat, which usually draws the attention of people nearby; most newcomers to mangrove coasts think these leaping fish are a sporting species or are being pursued by gamefish, although this is often not the case.
Theories abound as to why mullet jump: to escape predators, remove parasites, coordinate spawning migrations, aid respiration, and so forth. Some research has supported the respiration theory. Research on striped mullet showed that the fish uses the upper portion of the pharynx for aerial respiration, obtaining air by jumping or holding its head above the water. The research showed that the jumping frequency of this species seemed to be inversely related to dissolved oxygen concentration. The less oxygen, the more often the fish jumped.
Adult striped mullet migrate offshore in large schools to spawn; juveniles migrate inshore at about 1 inch in size, moving far up tidal creeks. Fantail mullet spawn in nearshore or inshore waters during the spring and the summer, and juveniles occur offshore. White mullet spawn offshore, and the young migrate into estuaries and along beaches.
Food and feeding habits. These mullet feed on algae, detritus, and other tiny marine forms; they pick up mud from the bottom and strain plant and animal material from it through their sievelike gill rakers and pharyngeal teeth. Indigestible materials are spit out. In most species, the stomach is gizzardlike for grinding food.
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