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Cyprinodon variegatus LACEPÈDE, 1803

Sheepshead 'Minnow'

SynonymsTop ↑

Esox ovinus Mitchill, 1815; Lebia ellipsoidea Lesueur, 1821; Lebias rhomboidalis Valenciennes, 1821; Cyprinodon gibbosus Baird & Girard, 1853; Cyprinodon baconi Breder, 1932; Cyprinodon hubbsi Carr, 1936

Etymology

Cyprinodon: from the Ancient Greek κυπρῖνος (kuprinos), meaning ‘carp’, and ὀδούς (odous), meaning ‘tooth’.

variegatus: from the Latin variegatus, meaning ‘variegated’.

Classification

Order: Cyprinodontiformes Family: Cyprinodontidae

Distribution

Type locality is given as ‘Carolinas, U.S.A.’, but this species has a huge distribution extending southwards from Massachuttsets state, northeastern U.S.A. along the Atlantic coast as far as northeastern Mexico, the Bahamas and Antilles, with a handful of records from northeastern South America (Venezuela).

Habitat

Tends to be most common in brackish to hypersaline environments such as coastal salt marshes, lagoons and estuaries.

On San Salvador Island, Bahamas, it appears to be the parent of a species group occurring in sympatry and exploiting diverse but specific resources with some spectacular morphological adaptations. Click here for more details.

Maximum Standard Length

40 – 50 mm.

Aquarium SizeTop ↑

An aquarium with base dimensions of 60 ∗ 30 cm or equivalent is just about acceptable for a single pair but like most members of the family Cyprinodontidae this species does best when maintained as a group in a larger tank or container.

Maintenance

Need not be too complicated so long as there are plenty of broken lines-of-sight.

Provide plenty of cover in the form of aquatic plants, wool mops, etc., and if using filtration air-powered, sponge-type units are best as these will not harm eggs or fry.

Lighting is unimportant but can be used if you wish, and growth of filamentous algae should be encouraged if possible.

References

  1. Martin, C. H. and P. C. Wainwright, 2011 - Evolution 65(8): 2197-2212
    Trophic novelty is linked to extremes rates of morphological diversification in two adaptive radiations of Cyprinodon pupfishes.
  2. Martin, C. H. and P. C. Wainwright, 2013a - Science 339(6116): 208-211
    Multiple Fitness Peaks on the Adaptive Landscape Drive Adaptive Radiation in the Wild.
  3. Martin, C. H. and P. C. Wainwright, 2013b - Bulletin of the Peabody Museum of Natural History 54(2): 231-240
    Remarkable Species Flock of Cyprinodon Pupfishes Endemic to San Salvador Island, Bahamas.
Missing information here? Our Knowledge Base is an ever-evolving work in progress, which naturally means that some species profiles contain more information than others. We're working on a daily basis to fill in all the gaps, so please have patience. This site relies heavily on the help of hundreds of people without whose valuable contributions it simply wouldn't exist. Information and photos regarding any freshwater or brackish fish species, its natural history or captive care is always much appreciated, so if you've anything you'd like to share please leave a comment below or email us.

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