Striped Killifish (Fundulus majalis) - Native

Striped killifish males.

Some of the variety of markings possible among immature striped killifish (fish pictured are 3- to 3.5-inch males).

Identification. Streamlined shape. Long, pointed snout. Snout below horizontal plane of middle of eye. Lateral line scales fewer than 39. Larger head than mummichog (head about 30 percent of body length not including tail fin). Dorsal rays greater than 13. Base of first dorsal ray directly over or slightly ahead of first anal ray. Dark vertical and/or irregular stripes (males) or 1-3 dark horizontal stripes (females) on sides. Typically gray to brown on back fading on sides to white on belly.

Size. Commonly 2 to 4 inches. State survey max. size 7 inches. Max. reported size 7.1 inches.

Distribution. Atlantic Coast from New Hampshire to northern Florida. In Connecticut, they are found along the entire coastline, where they are typically common to abundant.

Striped killifish distribution map.

All maps created in 2009. See CT DEEP Fish Community Data for updated distributions.

Habits. Prefer higher-salinity, protected areas of coastal bays, estuaries and salt marshes. Schooling fish that are most common over wave-swept, sandy areas. Rarely enter fresh water. Can be captured with a small-mesh dip net or seine.

Comments. This is the largest killifish species in Connecticut and the least tolerant of fresh water.


Text and images adapted from Jacobs, R. P., O'Donnell, E. B., and Connecticut DEEP. (2009). A Pictorial Guide to Freshwater Fishes of Connecticut. Hartford, CT. Available for purchase at the DEEP Store.