Fun Mummichog Facts For Kids

Gurpuneet Kaur
Nov 16, 2022 By Gurpuneet Kaur
Originally Published on Sep 02, 2021
Edited by Monisha Kochhar
Fact-checked by Pradhanya Rao
Here are some interesting and fun mummichog facts to ponder upon.

The mummichog, Fundulus heteroclitus, is a little killifish that belongs to the genus Fundulus. It is also known as a gudgeon, mummy, mud minnow, and Atlantic killifish.

'Mummichog' is an Indian word meaning 'going in crowds', referring to the fish living in schools (shoals).

On the other hand, the fish is known as mud minnow due to its behavior of burrowing itself in mud during the winters, and gudgeon is used for the bottom-dwelling fish.

It is found in the salt marshes and coastal range along the Atlantic coast of North America to northeast Florida in the south of the continent including Newark Bay, Port au Port Bay, and the Chesapeake Bay. Primarily, it inhabits coastal and brackish water bodies, including tidal creeks.

The shoals of mummichogs range up to hundreds of individual species. The adaptive behavior makes mummichogs live in a variety of environmental conditions. The population of mummichog can survive in a temperature range up to 95 F (35 C) and is tolerant to alternations in salinity.

The mummichogs are quite similar to the banded killifish and are also documented to interbreed with one another. Furthermore, the mummichogs are used as bait. Interestingly, they were the first fish sent to space!

If the uniqueness of the mummichog makes you interested to read more about similar species, you can read about the black ghost knifefish and telescope fish.

Mummichog Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a mummichog?

The mummichog, Fundulus heteroclitus, is a small fish, being omnivorous in nature. It has two subspecies: Fundulus heteroclitus heteroclitus and Fundulus heteroclitus macrolepidotus. While Fundulus heteroclitus heteroclitus is found in the south, Fundulus heteroclitus macrolepidotus is found in the north of North America.

What class of animal does a mummichog belong to?

The Fundulus heteroclitus belongs to the genus Fundulus, highlighting its nature of living in shoals, being a gregarious species of fish. Mummichogs belong to the order Cypinodontiformes with several scientific names considered as synonyms that range from Fundulus nigrofasciatus, Fundulus fasciatus to Cobitis heteroclita, and Fundulus pisculentus.

How many mummichogs are there in the world?

While the mummichog, Fundulus heteroclitus, is listed as Least Concern under the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, it is a quite common fish, considering its adaptive behavior. The population range of the fish is at no risk except it being a bait.

Where does a mummichog live?

Mummichogs are found along the Atlantic coast of North America. The populations of species of mummichog range from the Gulf of St. Lawrence to the Gulf Coast of Texas including Newark Bay, Port au Port Bay, and the Chesapeake Bay.

Quite recently, the species of these bait fish have been introduced in Hawaii and the Philippines, which were initially established in the coastal waters of Portugal and Spain.

What is a mummichog's habitat?

Mummichog habitat choices range from bay waters to tidal creeks. The species of mummichog is pretty common in saltwater marshes, mud creeks, shorelines, and grass beds.

The mummichogs bury themselves in muddy bottoms during the winters when the temperature dropdowns below 59 F (15 C). As bait fish, the species are found in the freshwaters. The search highlights that mummichogs are highly adaptive towards various environmental alterations that range from high-low temperatures to changes in the salinity of the water.

Who do mummichogs live with?

The mummichogs are gregarious in nature, often found in shoals or schools. The search documented the size of the group to range from 5-15 fish.

How long does a mummichog live?

The mummichog is reported to live up to four years. While the eggs hatch in 8-18 days, the males and females are reported to attain maturity at two years. Furthermore, according to the search, a bigmouth buffalo fish is the longest living fish which lived up to 112 years.

How do they reproduce?

The spawning season varies from late spring to early fall. The spawning is recorded to take place with the onset of the highest tides – either on a new moon day or full moon day.

Females lay up to 460 eggs at a time during the spawning season in their native habitat. The eggs laid are sticky and found in empty mollusk shells or mussel shells. Eggs do not hatch until they are covered with water during the highest tide that occurs in the succeeding month.

The eggs hatch into larvae in 8-18 days. The larvae move around when they attain a length up to 0.7 in (2 cm) and swim with adult males and females in schools.

What is their conservation status?

The mummichog is categorized as one of the Least Concern species under the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. The species reportedly is at no risk. Although it is used as live bait, the population is recorded to be stable.

Mummichog Fun Facts

What does mummichog look like?

Mummichogs are dimorphic meaning males and females have distinct physical characteristics. While males are dark olive green colored, females are yellow with a silverish tint with a faded dorsal side.

The males have either blue or green markings during the breeding season, while females lack the same. The species have a soft dorsal fin with their pelvic fins attached near the rear fin.

It is an olive green species of males with a soft yellow dorsal fin.

How cute are they?

With flattened heads, mummichogs are quite attractive. They have an elongated body with a shiny tint that can catch your attention.

How do they communicate?

While the communication mechanism of the mummichogs remains poorly studied, it is speculated that the fish communicates using various gestures and motions.

How big is a mummichog?

A mummichog is 3-5.9 in (7.5-15 cm) long. It is more than 100 times smaller than the giant oarfish and three times bigger than a white cloud mountain minnow.

How fast can a mummichog swim?

While the swimming speed of mummichog is not yet computed, a black marlin is recorded to be the fastest fish with a speed up to 80 mph (129 kph).

How much does a mummichog weigh?

The weight of the mummichog is unknown.

What are the male and female names of the species?

While there are no sex-specific names assigned to the species of the mummichog, it is also known by the name of Atlantic killifish, mummy, mud minnow, and gudgeon.

What would you call a baby mummichog?

A baby mummichog does not have a specific name. Also, a juvenile that is capable enough to feed itself is called a fry.

What do they eat?

The mummichogs feed on the surface of the water during the daytime. Being opportunistic feeders, the populations of mummichog prey upon a large variety of marine creatures. Their diet comprises mollusks, phytoplankton, worms, crustaceans, eggs of its own genus, and insect larvae, and also vegetation such as eelgrass. They also prey upon smaller fishes

Are they aggressive?

Males are very aggressive during courtship, while there are no documentations of females portraying aggressive behavior. However, the mummichog is known for its social and friendly temperament.

Would they make a good pet?

A mummichog is a humble fish and is reported to make a good pet. It is highly adaptive against various environmental conditions ranging from varying temperatures to fluctuating salinity levels.

Did you know...

The fish is stationary on warmer days, while buries itself in the mud bottoms in winters or temperatures below 59 C (15 C). It is known for its hardy and adaptive nature.

The fish attains maturity in up to two years.

It was first documented in the ponds of New Hampshire.

It has two subspecies; Fundulus heteroclitus heteroclitus is found in the south and Fundulus heteroclitus macrolepidotus is found in the north of North America.

It is considered very similar to a banded killifish (Fundulus diaphanus), the habitats of the fish overlap each other, too. While a banded has thin dark bars on the light side, a mummichog has light bars on its dark side. They are also speculated to interbreed with one another.

The shoal of the fish is recorded to have more than several hundred fish.

It is also a host to the parasite fluke (Homalometron pallidum). Other parasitic hosts include 10 protozoans, one nematode, and eight trematodes.

It was the first fish to be sent to space. Also, it is a common bait fish.

It inhabits the bay waters including Newark Bay, Port au Port Bay, and the Chesapeake Bay.  

Different types of killifish

A killifish is a Cyprinodontiform fish including families of Aplocheilidae, Cyprinodontidae, Valenciidae, Profundulidae, and Fundulidae. Mummichog and pupfish are some of the common fish from the genus.

They inhabit the fresh or salt waters of America, extending as far to Europe, Asia, and Africa. They are speculated to have a short lifespan and are also known as annual fish as they do not live more than a season.

Some of the killifish are golden wonder (Apolcheilus lineatus), Daisy's blue rice (Oryzias woworae), Gardneri panchax (Fundulopanchax gardneri), Magnificus (Simpsonichthys magnificus), Guentheri (Nothobranchius guentheri), and Rachovi (Nothobranchius rachovii). They are often referred to as 'living jewels'.

What role do mummichogs play in their habitat?

Mummichogs are a prominent source of food for larger fishes, wading birds, and seabirds. On the other hand, they are recorded to consume more than 2000 mosquito larvae in a day and thus are known as biocontrol agents of mosquitoes.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other fish from our catfish facts and spiny dogfish facts for kids.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable mummichog coloring pages.

We Want Your Photos!
We Want Your Photos!

We Want Your Photos!

Do you have a photo you are happy to share that would improve this article?
Email your photos

More for You

See All

Written by Gurpuneet Kaur

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Economics

Gurpuneet Kaur picture

Gurpuneet KaurBachelor of Arts specializing in Economics

As a skilled content writer, Gurpuneet has written and managed engaging content for multiple websites and companies. Driven by a passion for helping young people achieve their full potential, she brings a unique perspective to her work. She is currently pursuing a degree in Economics from Sri Guru Gobind Singh College Of Commerce. With extensive experience as a tutor, Gurpuneet has made a significant impact by providing guidance and academic support to students. Her dedication extends beyond tutoring as she has volunteered with Action India, where she offered medical assistance and educational aid to underprivileged communities. Additionally, Gurpuneet has contributed to the creation of student study guides for various educational agencies.

Read full bio >
Fact-checked by Pradhanya Rao

Bachelor of Commerce specializing in Marketing and HR

Pradhanya Rao picture

Pradhanya RaoBachelor of Commerce specializing in Marketing and HR

With a Bachelor’s degree in Commerce from Christ University, Bangalore, Pradhanya's passion for the English language and literature led her to explore the field of content writing, where she has gained extensive experience in writing, reviewing, editing, and fact-checking. She has also earned certifications in Google Ads Search, Google Ads Display, and Social Media Marketing, showcasing her proficiency in digital marketing.

Read full bio >