Mudminnows are small bottom-dwelling fish of the Umbridae family (often called Umbra). They are referred to as “mudminnows” because of their habit of burying themselves tail-first into the muddy bottoms of ponds, streams or rivers where they hide from predators. Mudminnows are not true minnows, but are actually a close relative of the pike. Four species of mudminnows are found in North America, with only two in New York State waters.
Mudminnows are generally considered to be baitfish, but themselves are ambush predators. They wait near-motionless in heavily vegetated, murky waters and when suitable prey comes along they dart out to grab it. Tolerant of stagnant, poorly oxygenated waters within a range of temperatures, mudminnows thrive in water that many other fish cannot. Their dull, earthy colors and grainy skin patterns help camouflage them in muddy waters.
What to look for: Stout, posteriorly-compressed body; soft-rayed fins; large dark blotch at the base of the caudal (tail) fin; short snout; round tail fin; dorsal fin sits on the rear half of the body; large eyes.
The details presented below generally represent adult specimens, not juveniles.
New York State Mudminnow Identification Guide
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