What's In a Name?
Central mudminnow: the "mudminnow" is a minnow-sized
fish named for its habit of escaping into the soft sediments;
"central" refers to its occurrence in central North
Umbra (Um´-bra) means "shade" in Latin, more than
likely referring to its dark habitat
limi (lee´-mee) means "mud" in Latin
Where Do They Live?
Central mudminnows occur in all drainages of Minnesota, but they
are most common in the northern and central parts of the state.
They prefer cool bogs and mashes, weedy ponds and ditches, and
small, slow-moving streams. These waters normally have bottoms
of soft sediments (but not deep silt). Central mudminnows are
commonly found with northern redbelly dace, pearl dace, and brook
sticklebacks, among others.
"Cool Fact": Central mudminnows survive periods of low
water levels by "burrowing" into soft sediments. They
can also breathe air.
How Big Do They Get?
How Long Do They Live?
As the name suggests, the central mudminnow is a small fish. It
can reach 125-178 mm (5-7 in) long in Minnesota, but 70-80 mm
(2.8-3.2 in) is a more typical range. The central mudminnow generally
lives for up to 4 years. The apparent record is 7 years.
What Do They Eat?
The young's diet is made up of newly hatched snails and clams,
copepods, and waterfleas. The central mudminnow basically is a
bottom feeder. The main foods of the adults are insect larvae,
small snails and clams, and sideswimmers. Large mudminnows will
occasionally take small fish.
What Eats Them?
In some habitats, central mudminnows are eaten by young northern
pike, sunfishes, and bullheads. Fish-eating birds, muskrats, and
foxes also consume this species.
How Do They Reproduce?
Central mudminnows spawn in the spring (usually April in Minnesota),
when water temperatures are 10-15° C (50-59° F). They
gather in the spring-flooded areas of streams and ponds where
there is plenty of vegetation. No nest is built. The female lays
one egg at a time on the vegetation and the male fertilizes it.
The female guards the eggs until they hatch. A female can lay
a total of about 425-450 eggs. The embryos hatch in about 7-10
Conservation and Management
The central mudminnow is a very common and widespread species
and has no special conservation status in Minnesota. Some anglers
use it as a baitfish because it survives so well in a bait bucket.