Central Mudminnow
central mudminnow

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 America
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 days.

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.

Natural History of Minnesota Fishes

Photograph by John Lyons WiDNR
Text by Nicole Paulson & Jay T. Hatch in cooperation with
the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources' MinnAqua Aquatic Program