The body of F. carpio is short,
deep and chubby, with convex dorsal profile (Robins & Ray
1986). Darker irregular bands are present on the lower sides,
and the lack of a dark spot at the base of the first dorsal
fin ray differentiates this killifish from similar species.
Breeding males are more brightly colored, with orange-gold spots
on the cheeks and body.
Potentially Misidentified Species:
The goldspotted killifish may be mistaken
for the sheepshead minnow, Cyprinodon variegatus. This
species is similar in shape and coloration, and may be found
inhabiting the same areas as F. carpio in the IRL.
The dorsal surface of C. variegatus is less concave,
and the irregular dark bands extend over most of the side (Robins
& Ray 1986). A dark spot is present at the base of the first
dorsal fin ray, which is especially prominent in young individuals.
Males have a dark edged caudal fin, and breeding males are brightly
colored with a blue nape, orange cheeks and lower parts, and
lack dark bands. Females have an ocellus, or eyespot, on the
rear of the dorsal fin. At a maximum length of 7.5 cm, sheepshead
minnows also grow slightly larger than goldspotted killifish.
II. HABITAT AND DISTRIBUTION
Regional Occurrence & Habitat
The range of F. carpio extends
from southeast Florida through the Gulf of Mexico (Robins &
Ray 1986). Populations are found in shallow coastal habitats
such as: seagrass beds (Sogard et al. 1987), especially
those with sparse cover (Sogard et al. 1989); mangroves
(Thayer et al. 1987); salt marshes; and mosquito impoundments
(Lewis & Gilmore 2007, Stevens 2002).
Though the specific boundaries of the IRL
distribution for F. carpio are unknown, populations
can be found in many regions of the lagoon. Most fish are concentrated
in mangrove and salt marsh areas, including portions impounded
for mosquito control.
III. LIFE HISTORY AND
Age, Size, Lifespan:
Information concerning the maximum age
and average lifespan of F. carpio is lacking. Growth
rates vary with environmental conditions, food availability
and other factors. The maximum reported size for the goldspotted
killifish is 6.5 cm (Robins & Ray 1986).
Abundance estimates for F. carpio
in the IRL have not been reported. However, this species was
found to the second most abundant fish in Florida Bay, outnumbered
only by the rainwater killifish, Lucania parva (Sogard
et al. 1987). Mean densities of fish throughout Florida
Bay exceeded 3 individuals m-2 (Sogard et al.
1987), with the largest populations found in September and November
Little information is available detailing
the reproduction and embryology of F. carpio. Sexual
maturity is attained during the first year (Powell et al.
2007). Females spawn multiple times throughout the year (Nordlie
2000, Powell et al. 2007), laying eggs one at a time
on benthic substrata (Nordlie 2000).
IV. PHYSICAL TOLERANCES
Salinity & Temperature:
The goldspotted killifish occupies marine
and estuarine areas, occasionally entering freshwater (Robins
& Ray 1986). Populations have been found in salinities ranging
from 0 to >50 ppt (Brockmann 1974, Kaill 1967). Though the
range of F. carpio is mostly subtropical, it has been
documented to withstand a wide range of temperatures, from 6
to 37.8 °C (Gilmore et al. 1978, Kaill 1967).
Many areas in salt marsh and mangrove habitats
may be characterized by low dissolved oxygen (DO) levels due
to decaying organic matter and little water movement. However,
F. carpio is sensitive to hypoxia, showing stress at
DO levels of 6-8 mg kg-1, and is nearly incapacitated at a range
of 4-5 mg kg-1 (Kaill 1967).
V. COMMUNITY ECOLOGY
The diet of F. carpio appears
to vary with salinity (Ley et al. 1994), which is most
likely the result of habitat composition in these areas. Where
the salinity range is wide, killifish consumed mostly algae.
In areas where salinity was less variable, F. carpio
preyed on more benthic invertebrates. Populations have been
found to ingest copepods, gastropods, amphipods, eggs and detritus
(Motta et al. 1995, Odum & Heald 1972).
Few predators are documented for this species,
but individuals are likely preyed upon by larger fishes, wading
birds and crabs.
No known obligate associations exist for
F. carpio. However, goldspotted killifish are associated
with several organisms common to mangroves, mosquito impoundments,
seagrass beds and salt marshes. For extensive lists of other
species found throughout the ecosystems in which F. carpio
occurs, please refer to the “Habitats of the IRL” link at the
left of this page.
VI. SPECIAL STATUS
& FURTHER READING
Brockmann, FW. 1974. Seasonality of fishes
in a south Florida brackish canal. FL Sci. 37: 65-70.
Gilmore, RG, Bullock, LH & FH Berry.
1978. Hypothermal mortality in marine fishes of south-central
Florida. January, 1977. NE Gulf Sci. 2: 77-97.
Kaill, WM. 1967. Ecology and behavior
of the cyprinodontid fishes Jordanella floridae (Goode
& Bean), Floridichthys carpio (Günther) and
Cyprinodon variegatus (Lacépède).
PhD Dissertation. Cornell University. Ithaca, NY. USA. 172 pp.
Lewis, RR III & RG Gilmore. 2007.
Important considerations to achieve successful mangrove forest
restoration with optimum fish habitat. Bull. Mar. Sci.
Ley, JA, Montague, CL & CC McIvor.
1994. Food habits of mangrove fishes: a comparison along estuarine
gradients in northeastern Florida Bay. Bull. Mar. Sci.
Loftus, WF & JA Kushlan. 1987. Freshwater
fishes of southern Florida. Bull. Fla. State Mus. Biol.
Sci. 31: 147-344.
Motta, PJ, Clifton, KB, Hernandez, P,
Eggold, BT, Giordano, SD & R Wilcox. 1995. Feeding relationships
among nine species of seagrass fishes of Tampa Bay, Florida.
Bull. Mar. Sci. 56: 185-200.
Nordlie, FG. 2000. Patterns of reproduction
and development of selected resident teleosts of Florida salt
marshes. Hydrobiol. 434: 165-182.
Nordlie, FG. 2006. Physicochemical environments
and tolerances of cyprinodontid fishes found in estuaries and
salt marshes of eastern North America. Rev. Fish Biol. Fisheries.
Nordlie, FG & SJ Walsh. 1989. Adaptive
radiation in osmotic regulatory patterns among three species
of cyprinodontids (Teleostei: Atherinomorpha). Physiol.
Zool. 62: 1203-1218.
Odum & Heald. 1972. Trophic analyses
of an estuarine mangrove community. Bull. Mar. Sci. 22:
Powell, AB, Thayer, G, Lacroix, M &
R Cheshire. 2007. Juvenile and small resident fishes of
Florida Bay, a critical habitat in the Everglades National Park,
Florida. NOAA Professional Paper NMFS 6: 105-108. National
Marine Fisheries Service. Seattle, WA. USA.
Robins, CR & GC Ray. 1986. A field
guide to Atlantic coast fishes of North America. Houghton
Mifflin Co. New York. USA. 354 pp.
Schmidt, TW. 1979. 1979 ecological
study of fishes and the water quality characteristics of Florida
Bay, Everglades National Park, Florida. NPS Special Report
01-02. US National Park Service. Homestead, FL. USA.
Shirley, M, O’Donnell, P, McGee, V &
T Jones. 2004. Nekton species composition as a biological indicator
of altered freshwater inflow: a comparison of three south Florida
estuaries. In: Bortone, SA, ed. Estuarine indicators.
351-361. CRC Press. Boca Raton, FL. USA
Sogard, SM, Powell, GVN & JG Holmquist.
1987. Epibenthic fish communities on Florida Bay banks: relations
with physical parameters and seagrass cover. Mar. Ecol.
Prog. Ser. 40: 25-39.
Sogard, SM, Powel, GVN & JG Holmquist.
1989. Utilization by fishes of shallow, seagrass-covered banks
in Florida Bay: 1. Species composition and spatial heterogeneity.
Env. Biol. Fish. 24: 53-65.
Stevens, PW. 2002. Test of salt marsh
as a site of production and export of fish biomass with implications
for impoundment management and restoration. PhD Dissertation.
University of Florida. Gainesville, FL. USA. 195 pp.
Thayer, GW, Colby, DR & WF Hettler.
1987. Utilization of the red mangrove prop root habitat by fishes
in south Florida Bay. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 35: 25-38.
Report by: LH Sweat, Smithsonian Marine Station
at Fort Pierce
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Page last updated: 6 August 2009
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