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Becker, George C. / Fishes of Wisconsin

Killifish family - cyprinodontidae,   pp. 753-765 ff. PDF (5.2 MB)

Page 765

Starhead Topminnow    765 
  The starhead topminnow normally occurs singly or 
in pairs. It skims along just beneath the surface of the 
water, with a bright silvery spot showing on the top 
of the head; it will not dive even when pursued. 
Cahn (1927) noted that it sometimes swims slowly 
with its dorsal fin out of water, and that when it is 
disturbed it zigzags rapidly, usually to return very 
shortly to the spot it left. 
  In South Carolina, starhead topminnows from 
various shores of a small woodland pond were placed 
in unfamiliar surroundings. These fish had the abil- 
ity to orient themselves with respect to the sun for 
moving in a direction which would return them to 
the land-water interface from which they had been 
captured. Even when placed on land surfaces, the fish 
were able to move toward the water by using the po- 
sition of the sun to align their bodies for a series of 
overland jumps. On heavily overcast days, however, 
many fish were unable to orient their bodies in a 
consistent direction from jump to jump. Goodyear 
(1970) noted an unusual escape maneuver by the 
starhead topminnow (p. 604): 
  In five instances F. notti which were being chased by 
bass, were seen to jump onto the bank and remain there 
for several minutes before jumping back into the pond. The 
bass remained only a few seconds after the F. notti left the 
water and were gone when the starhead topminnow re- 
Considering its scarcity in Wisconsin, the starhead 
topminnow must have limited value as a forage spe- 

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