RICHARD A. KING WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHY
             Common Forage Fish of the Barnegat Bay
 T            
Counter
Image sizes and res. have been lowered and watermarked for  security and expediency.  Higher resolutions are available. 
The Forage Fish of Barnegat Bay
As interesting as these species are in form, nature is just as concerned in their function, hence the term
forage fish or "prey species".  You see there are two conditions of existence in the Barnegat Bay (and every other habitat for that mater), you're either alive, or you're food for something else. As in the image above, the species below are an indispensable link to the survival and growth of all kingdoms of life depicted this site.  

The Common Forage Fish of the Barnegat Bay
Though some like menhaden, and mullet will spend their first year of life here, others like silversides, and killies will spend their entire life here.  None will grow larger than 8" in a single season.   

The Silversides--Our two most important open water forage species.  
re Info
More Info Atlantic Silversides (Menidia menidia)
May be found in the Barnegat Bay and adjacent surf from Jan. to Dec.  

For more about our most important open water forage fish click Mhere- More Info
Inland Silversides (Menidia beryllina)
1. Favors the lower salinities of the middle estuary (tributaries)
2. May be found mixed with At. Silversides in spring.           
           3. Can be told apart by smaller size and only 16 rays in anal fin.
           4. Less numerous than At. Silversides, but never leaves the the bay.            
The Killie Family--Our most important inshore forage species-Five Species  


Shallow Inshore Species 
The Killie Family 
Cyprinodontidae
Permanent Residents
Of the many species that exist throughout our coastal estuaries, there are five I've found in the Barnegat Bay Estuary. Ranging in size from 1 1/2" to 7", they represent a year round food source as their entire life cycle will be spent inside the estuary, burying themselves in the mud to survive severe winter temperatures. But most unique about these fish is the inshore habitat they choose. Made up of slow moving creeks, ditches, and tidal pools, spurned by most other fish for its low oxygen, and high summer temperatures. Yet it has the redeeming quality of holding huge populations of larval invertebrates, like shrimp, amphipods, and mosquito larva. as they thrive off the decomposing marsh grasses, called detritus, they give the killie family a constant food source, which makes them an indispensable link between the marsh based ditrital food chain, and the birds, fish, and crabs that depend on it. 



The Common Killie ( Fundulus heteroclitus )


Size to 6'' Life Span to 4 yrs. Appearance
A blunt nosed rather rectangular shaped fish, with a thick body from nose to anal fin. Males with a dark olive back, and vertical bars on light yellowish sides, and belly. Light up with various shades of yellow, and blue in breeding seasons (Prime: April). Females have dark green backs becoming lighter on sides with a light yellow belly, and vague vertical bars.


Range
Gulf of St. Lawrence south, and west, to the Texas Gulf Coast.


Tolerance
The hardiest of all known fish. Can survive salinities three times that of the open ocean, and temperatures to 90 degrees.

Predator Prey Relationship


April to September


Though a favorite food of Fluke, and White Perch, Mummy Chugs are not fish of the water column. They hug the shoreline, and salt marsh where their family is said to make up 90% of the diet of our wading birds. But, with their muddy shoreline habitat so low in oxygen, and high in temperature, and with the estuary covered with forage of the water column, their vulnerability to predatory game fish is more as prey of opportunity for night time foraging, than a targeted species.


October to December


Now the picture changes. Temperatures drop from late October, through December. Our native Striped Bass move in from the surf, foraging the shallows, and creeks at night where concentrations of mummy chugs become one of their most available targets, often stuffing their stomachs to distortion.

Though not known to make schooling migrations, like all bay organisms, they must escape the severe winter temperatures


A great time for night fishing, especially in tidal creeks where the water goes from shallow to deep for the first few hours of the outgoing tide. Striped Bass are ambush predators when they can be. They'd rather have prey come to them than chase it


  Predator Prey Relationship

April to September

Though a favorite food of Fluke, and White Perch, Mummy Chugs are not fish of the water column.  They hug the shoreline, and salt marsh where their family is said to make up 90% of the diet of our wading birds.  But, with their muddy shoreline habitat so low in oxygen, and high in temperature, and with the estuary covered with forage of the water column, their vulnerability to predatory game fish is more as prey of opportunity for night time foraging, than a targeted species.

October to December

Now the picture changes.  Temperatures drop from late October, through December.  Our native Striped Bass move in from the surf, foraging the shallows, and creeks at night where concentrations of mummy chugs become one of their most available targets, often stuffing their stomachs to distortion.

A great time for night fishing, especially in tidal creeks where the water goes from shallow to deep for the first few hours of the outgoing tide.  Striped Bass are ambush predators when they can be.  They'd rather have prey come to them than chase it

Striped Killies (Fundulus majolis)
Banded Killies (Fundulus diaphanus)
Sheepshead Minnow (Cyprinodon variegatus)
Rainwater Killies (Lucania parva) 
White Mullet (Mugil curema) 
Atlantic Menhadaden (Brevoortia tyrannus )
Alewife Herring (Alosa pseudoharengus) 
Fourspine Stickleback (Apeltes quadracus) 
Threespine-Stickleback-(Gasterosteus-aculeatus) 
Bay Anchovie (Anchoa mitchilli)


Also called "Rainfish"

Adults to 4" Juveniles to 2''
Breeders: April through August Fall Migration: October/November
Life Span 3 years
Description
Laterally compressed elongate body with blunt nose. A greenish back, translucent sides with a reddish caste. Schools appear as a large reddish patch in the surf before wintering.


 
Bay Anchovie (Anchoa mitchilli) 

The Sand Lance (Ammodytes sp.)
Though an important species in late fall, they rarely enter the bay farther than the inlets. May grow to 12" and live as long as 10 yrs. Move inshore to breed every fall and winter but rarely farther than the inlets due to their preference for sand.

For More Info Click Here

Have a Question, or a Comment?  Sign into my Guest Book and Let Me Know!!  I'll be glad to answer you!  

 Photos, Note Cards and Greeting Cards

Aof the
Barnegat Bay
Any of the wildlife photos you see on this site can be purchased by contacting me at:
Local slide lectures also available
For more info feel free to drop me an e-mail any time
Please be patient as this site is still under construction