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NFC: F. cingulatus



 Observations on the Husbandry of Fundulus cingulatus
By Bill Duzen
The Banded Topminnow was first described by Valenciennes in 1846. This
fish has had synonyms of Micristius cingulatus, Zygonectes (Micristius)
cingulatus, Zygonectes cingulatus, Fundulus cingulatis and Zygonectes
rubifrons.

The species name of cingulatus translates to provided with girdles.
Normal colored fish have males with a olive green cast to the body with
10 to 15( depending on location) dark green-brown vertical stripes on the
sides of the body. There are also light color red dots along the back
intermixed with the vertical strips. The unpaired fins along with the
ventral fins have a light orange color that intensifies to almost a red
when in breeding condition. In some males the throat area becomes a very
dusky charcoal black when in breeding condition. Females tend to be more
yellow-green with small dark brown spots on the upper sides. Some have
very faint bars similar to the males. All unpaired fins are colorless
except for some faint spots close to the body. There is a color morph of
this fish found in the panhandle of Florida that has a distinct pink cast
to the body and the fins have a much more rosy color, turning a bright
pink-red when breeding. This color morph seems to breed true , with
juvenile showing this coloration in F1 stock. This is a medium size
Fundulus with the top size, for both sexes being about 5 to 8 cm.

This fish is found in extreme Southern Alabama, lower Georgia and Florida
down to the Tamiami Canal. This animal likes to frequent stagnant or slow
moving bodies of freshwater with extensive aquatic vegetation.

Fundulus cingulatus is very easy to keep and breed. Water chemistry
doesn't sem to be important as long as extremes are avoided. Water out of
my tap has pH of 7.4 with hardness in the 130 ppm range They will eat
almost anything from flake foods, frozen foods such as brine shrimp,
blood worms and turkey heart. Live foods are always accepted. When I set
up my pairs for breeding I will separate the sexes and feed both heavily
on mosquito larva, daphnia and chopped red worms. I will set two pairs up
in a 10 gallon bare aquarium, at a temperature of 72 to 78 degrees. The
tank will have a sponge or box filter with natural sunlight. I will a
have floating and bottom green nylon mop to receive the eggs. What I have
noticed is that the vast majority of the eggs will be laid in the bottom
mop. If 20 eggs are laid in a day , 18 will be in the bottom mop. These
fish seem to be cyclical breeder. I will recover 10 o 20 eggs per day
from two pairs for up to 6 days. Then there will not be any more eggs for
a period of 4 to 8 days and then the breeding will start anew for another
4 to 6 days. Feeding during this time has not changed , nor has any other
outside stimuli. Predation seems to be at a minium. I don't know wether
to contribute that to good feedings or lack of interest on the part of
the fish. I haven't noticed any seasonal tendencies to breeding. That may
because of the extreme southern range of this fish.

The eggs are rather large, in the 2 mm range, and are removed from the
mop every other day. I use to remove the eggs everyday, fearing egg
eating by the parents, but found no difference in the amount of eggs with
either method. The eggs were place in a  pint container with clean aged
water that has be tinted a light yellow color using Acriflavin dye. The
water was kept at a temperature of 76 to 78 degrees. I looked for fungus
eggs every day and found very few of them. At this temperature range the
eggs hatched in twelve days. Newly hatched fry were removed with an
eyedropper to a 5 gallon aquarium, half filled with aged water along with
a small used sponge filter. I also like to stock the tank with Java moss
from an established tank. The fry are already 3 mm in length and can take
newly hatched brine shrimp. They also glean food off of the Java moss.
This seems to be a rather slow growing Fundulus species.

There seems to be a rather snobbish attitude amongst aquarist that unless
the fish comes from some other continent other than our own it can't be
any good and should be used for bait or feeders. This is one fish that
will rival many of the most coveted killies in both color and ease of
keeping. And if your criteria is only keeping expensive fish, then this
fish is for you. Over in Europe this is a much sort after fish and
commands a very high price. So please, try keeping some native fish and
be prepared to be pleasantly surprised.

References:
A World of Killies Vol. III by Rudolf H. Wildekamp

Freshwater Fishes, Peterson Field Guides by Lawrence M. Page and Brooks
M. Burr

Aquarium Atlas Vol. II by Hans A. Baensch and Dr. Rudiger Riehl