The mosquitofish gets its name from eating mosquito larvae as one of its main food sources.
  • Size

    1.5 inches (4 cm)
  • Diet

    Zooplankton, small insects, detritus
  • Range

    North America and South America
  • Habitat

    Vegetated ponds, lakes, backwaters, quiet pools

Physical Characteristics

  • Mosquitofish are about 1.5 inches (4 cm) in length with a prominent round belly and a relatively large head that is flattened on the upper surface.
  • Its 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.

Range / Habitat

  • Mosquitofish occur in North and Central America in the Mississippi as well as in the Gulf of Mexico drainage.
  • These fish have 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.

Reproduction & Growth

  • 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.

Conservation Status

  • “Least Concern” 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 freshwater fish in the world.
  • 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.


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