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Commonly Asked Questions

Appears in Georgia Aquarium's:
  • American Alligators Habitat (River Scout)

Range / Habitat

  • Mosquitofish occurs in North and Central America in the Mississippi basin from Illinois south to the Gulf of Mexico, as well as in the Gulf of Mexico drainage from Florida to Mexico.
  • Has been introduced very widely throughout the world.
  • This species is found in both standing and flowing water habitats and is abundant in the lower reaches of streams.
  • Most common in vegetated ponds, lakes, backwaters and quiet pools.
  • Mosquitofish will also inhabit brackish water areas of salt marshes.

Physical Characteristics

  • Mosquitofish is about 1½ inches (4 cm) in length with a prominent round belly and a relatively large head that is flattened on the upper surface.
  • Small mouth is upturned and protrusible. The eyes are large relative to the body.
  • Coloration is greenish-olive to brown above, gray-blue on the sides and silvery-white below.
  • There is a characteristic pattern of small, diamond-shaped markings on its body formed by the dark pigment on the edges of the scales.
  • Small dark dots are usually present on the body and tail.

Diet / Feeding

  • Feeds on zooplankton, small insects and detritus.
  • It is believed to prey heavily on mosquito larvae, hence its name.

Conservation Status

  • “Not Evaluated” on the IUCN Red List.

Additional Information

  • Mosquitofish have been intentionally and unintentionally introduced throughout the world. Introductions began more than 100 years ago as a means of controlling mosquitoes.
  • Due to these introductions, it is considered by some to be the single most abundant fresh water fish in the world.
  • This species is viviparous. The female gives birth to 60 to 300 young after a gestation period of about 24 days.
  • The male’s anal fin is elongated and serves to transfer sperm to the female during breeding.
  • The female is larger than the male.
  • This species is tolerant of a wide range of temperature and salinity conditions. It is known to enter a period of dormancy in colder months.
  • Mosquitofish may live up to three years.
  • Sometimes used as live food for carnivorous aquarium fish.

Sources

www.fishbase.org
www.sms.si.edu/IRLSpec/Gambusia_affinis.html
www.bio.txstate.edu
http://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/factSheet.asp?speciesID=846