Mosquitofish

FISH PROFILE

COMMON NAME

Mosquitofish

Scientific name

Gambusia holbrooki

FAMILY

Poeciliidae

LENGTH

Up to 7 centimeters

DIET

Zooplankton, small insects, mosquito larvae, small invertebrates

FISH PROFILE

COMMON NAME

Mosquitofish

Scientific name

Gambusia holbrooki

FAMILY

Poeciliidae

LENGTH

Up to 7 centimeters

DIET

Zooplankton, small insects, mosquito larvae, small invertebrates

DISTINGUISHING CHARACTERISTICS

The mosquitofish, also known as Gambusia or gambezi, is a freshwater fish approximately 3.9 centimeters in length with a maximum length of 7 centimeters. They are small fish characterized by their grey color with rounded dorsal and caudal fins, a large abdomen, and upturned mouth for surface feeding. Females are larger than males and may also be distinguished by a gravid spot (a dark spot where they carry young) on their abdomen.

RANGE, HABITAT, and BEHAVIOR

Despite their name, mosquitofish feed on more than just mosquito larvae. Their diet consists of many invertebrates, including zooplankton and small insects. They are found throughout the United States with concentrations in the Mississippi River Basin and south throughout Florida’s springs and waterways and into the Gulf of Mexico. Mosquitofish can tolerate low oxygen, high salinity, and high temperatures, allowing for their successful distribution across the globe.

FUN FACTS

The name mosquitofish comes from their high consumption of mosquito larvae relative to their small body size. This behavior has been considered a safer and cheaper alternative to insecticides and even an effective deterrent to malaria, the reason mosquitofish are found all around the world. The name Gambusia comes from the Cuban term, “gambusino”, meaning nothing. If you go fishing for mosquitofish, you are catching “nothing”!

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