The Starhead topminnow (Fundulus dispar) is a native United States species that ranges from the Ouachita River drainage in Louisiana, the Big Black river in Mississippi, and extends northward into the Mississippi River and Lake Michigan basins to the southern Michigan and southern Wisconsin areas.
The name Fundulus dispar comes from the Latin fundus meaning bottom with -ulus as a diminutive suffix and dispar meaning unlike, dissimilar, different, or unequal.
The Starhead topminnow can be identified by its light olive tan back and upper sides with the lower sides and belly lighter to yellowish in color. It has a series of red to brown lines along its sides, 6 to 8 on females and 3 to 13 on males. There is a prominent dark blotch of color (similar to a teardrop) beneath its eye. The dorsal fin is located far down the posterior end on the back. Adult length can be 1.8-2.2 inches (47-55mm) There are 16 to 20, usually 18 to 20, scales around the caudal peduncle.
Starhead topminnow will live in glacial lakes and clear, well-vegetated floodplain lakes, swamps and marshes. It prefers quiet areas with plenty of submerged vegetation for it to live and hide in. Spawning of these fish also occur in beds of aquatic vegetation. Spawning occurs from June through July.
The Starhead feeds on terrestrial and aquatic insects, crustaceans, mollusks and aquatic vegetation.
- Page, Lawrence M., and Brooks M. Burr. A Field Guide to Freshwater Fishes: North America North of Mexico. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1991. 222. Print.