• Family: Umbridae (Mudminnows)
• Other Names: Pygmy pike
• Ohio Status: No special status
• Adult Size: Typically 2-3 inches, can reach 5 inches.
• Typical Foods: Various aquatic invertebrates.
The central mudminnow is a small fish with a rounded tail. Their dorsal, anal, and pelvic fins are all positioned toward the rear of their body. Their body is mottled with various shades of brown and they have a dark vertical bar just in front of the base of their tail. Their belly is a dirty cream, light brown, or yellow color. Breeding males have a vivid white or blue sheen to the anal and pelvic fins. Central mudminnows have no spines in any of their fins and they have no lateral line. Additionally they have scales on their head and gill covers. The closest relatives to the mudminnows are the pikes, as a result mudminnows are sometimes referred to as "pygmy pike".
Habitat and Habits
Central mudminnows are found in swamps, marshes, bogs, and slow moving streams. These areas must have an abundance of aquatic vegetation and a soft bottom composed of dark organic muck and debris free of yellow clay and silt. In these areas central mudminnows burrow into the bottom tail first. They lie in wait watching for insect larvae or other small aquatic invertebrates to swim past then, with a burst of speed, shoot out and grab their prey. Central mudminnows are often found in areas where no other fish can survive because of their abilities to breath air and burrow into the mud to survive dry spells. They are primarily found in the Northern part of Ohio but some isolated populations do exist in southern Ohio.
Reproduction and Care of the Young
Central mudminnows spawn in early spring in late March or early April. Details of spawning are unclear but some sources suggest that both parents guard a nest site in or near vegetation.