RICHARD KING WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHY
The Killie Family of the Barnegat Bay
      
 
      The Common Killie  of the Barnegat Bay
       (Fundulus heteroclitus) 
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The Shore Line Food Supply of the Barnegat Bay Estuary
     
The Killie Family "Cyprinodontidae"


90% of the diet of wading birds is made up of this family, and most of that is made up of the Common Mummichog.



 Common "Mummichogs" (Fundulus heteroclitus)

The best known and most numerous of all the members of the 
Cyprinodontidae Family

1.  Live about 4 yrs -- Grow to 5" 
2.  Found from the high salinity of the Bay to the lower salinity of the tributaries.
3.  Thrives on muddy shoreline bottoms, slow moving creeks, and mosquitoe            ditches.  Water so low in oxygen that nothing else can spend     much time there. 
4.  Diet:  A predator of small shrimp , amphipods, isopods, copepods it also           feeds on plant matter, and detritus.  That being said I've found they'll eat           anything they can get in they're mouth. 
5.  Never leave the estuary, and can be caught right through the winter by             scooping as much as a foot into the muddy sediments of mosquitoe ditches           where they winter.
  Observation:  In late Fall  I've found that young individuals up to 2" make massive migrations into tidal creeks where they become prime forage for returning Striped Bass.  I've never found them in stomach contents in any other season., though theres no doubt they are a "Bait of Opportunity" throughout the year
Sheepshead Minnows(Cyprinodon variegatus)
1.  Life span unknown -- Said grow to 3" but never saw them more than 1.25' 
2.  Like common killies, found from the high salinity of the Bay to the lower            salinity of the tributaries.
3.  Thrives on muddy shoreline bottoms, creek banks, and mosquitoe ditches.
  Observation:  Regardless of size, the Sheepshead Minnow is the "Boss", being by far the most agressive of it's family, often chasing the much larger Common Mummichog from it's territory.
4.  A great aquarium fish, an omnivore that eat's everything with a flare for algae.
5.  Males, like those in the photos above, develope a bright florescent coloration during breeding season, from spring to summer.
 
Rainwater Killfish (Lucania-parva)
1.   Lifespan unknown-- Grow to 1.5" max.
2.  Because of their similarity to juv. mummichogs, are often overlooked, but can be easily distinguished by the dark outline of its scales.
3.  Favor the same inshore habitats as mummichogs, but seem to favor grassy       shallow areas.
Observation:   Have the ability to flip their bodies many times their length (up to a foot or more), unlike others of their family.
4.   Very fast and hard to catch.  My technique:  Rapid back and forth                scooping action with a long handled shrimp net on shallow grassy shore lines.
Striped Killfish (Fundulus majalis)
1.   Lifespan 5 yrs.-- Grow to 7"+ max.  Largest of the Cyprinodontidae family
2.  Differs from its cousins in its preference for the higher salinities and sandy         bottom of the lower estuary.
3.  The one killfish you're most likely to catch in a seine net.
4.  Horizontal stripes in female-Verticle bars in male.

Banded Killfish( Fundulus diaphanus )
1.   Lifespan 4 yrs.-- Grow to 4" max. 
2.  Differs from its cousins in its preference for the lower salinities of the middle        estuary.
3.  Unlike it's cousins, the one killfish you're most likely not to catch in the         lower bay.  Sometimes called the fresh water killfish, it can often be caught with     mummichogs in the lower salinities of the middle estuary (tributaries).
4. Both females and males show vertical bars, and a sharply tapered head and      silhouette. Breeding males light up with bright blues, and yellows in the spring.