Eastern Mudminnow

Eastern Mudminnow
Eastern Mudminnow

Worth knowing about the Eastern Mudminnow


The Eastern Mudminnow (Umbra pygmaea ) belongs to the kingdom of animals, more specifically to the tribe Chordata. Here they are again subdivided into the class Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes), order of Esociformes (pikes and mudminnows), the family of Umbridae (mudminnows), genus Umbra, and the species Umbra pygmaea.

The “ae” at the end of Umbridae refers to the Latin for shadow and more specifically to a ghost (or phantom). These fish were so named because they like to hide in the background in shady, muddy, and dark environments.

This animal was first described in 1842 by James Ellsworth De Kay (an American zoologist).

Eastern Mudminnow (Umbra pygmaea): Synonyms

Leuciscus pygmaeus, Umbra pygmae, Umbra pygmea


  • The female specimen does not grow more than about 15 cm and the male grows to a maximum of 9 cm.
  • It has an almost round body with a blunt head and an overhanging fish mouth.
  • Their color varies from green-brown to red-brown. There are dark spots here and there.
  • On their flanks, they show a dozen narrow lateral stripes interrupted by pale spaces.
  • The caudal fin is round in shape and shows a dark spot on the caudal peduncle. Their dorsal fin is set far back.

International names

  • Belgium: Amerikaanse hondsvis
  • China: 矮荫鱼
  • Denmark: Lille hundefisk
  • Estonia: Kääbus-koerkala
  • Finland: Pikkukoitakala
  • France: Petit poisson chien, Umbre pygmée
  • Germany: Amerikanischer Hundsfish
  • Netherlands: Amerikaanse hondsvis, Hondsvis
  • Romania: Tiganus
  • Russia: Karlikovaya evdoshka, евдошка карликовая
  • Sweden: Dvärghundfisk
  • USA: Eastern mudminnow

Photos of the Eastern Mudminnow (Umbra pygmaea)

(1) Eastern mudminnow
(1) Eastern mudminnow – by Maryland Fisheries Service DNR
(2) Eastern mudminnow
(2) Eastern mudminnow – by Charley Grimes – Flickr.com/commons
(3) Eastern mudminnow
(3) Eastern mudminnow – by Maryland Fisheries Service DNR
– Flickr.com/commons
(4) Eastern mudminnow
(4) Eastern mudminnow – by Rick Eller – Flickr.com/commons
(5) Eastern mudminnow
(5) Eastern mudminnow – by Corey Raimond – Flickr.com/commons
(6) Eastern mudminnow
(6) Eastern mudminnow – by Fishes of Georgia Photo Gallery
– Flickr.com/commons

Where can you find the Eastern Mudminnow?

This exotic fish is related to the Nordic pike and was introduced on a very local basis in Central and Western Europe. Their native habitat is on the east coast of North America.

These animals like muddy bottoms and murky waters such as swamps, peat swamps, streams, ponds, wetlands over sand, rubble, and dense vegetation.

The young of the Eastern Mudminnow like to swim in schools of 10 to 12 specimens and this is between the aquatic plants.

What makes these fish special is that they survive well in water with high acidity. At pH values between 4.0 and 7.0, examinations of their blood plasma proved that they were not affected at all. No changes in hematocrit, osmolarity, and mortality were observed. At low oxygen levels, these fish can survive by switching to gastrointestinal respiration. Most native fish species cannot survive in such an “acidic” area.

Countries where they live

  • Europe: Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Netherlands, Poland
  • North America: USA

In North America, they are located on the slopes of the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf. More specifically, from southeastern New York (including Long Island) to the St.Johns River in Florida in the west, and to the Aucilla River drainage in Florida and Georgia, USA.

Eastern Mudminnow: Their nutrition

Their diet consists mainly of fish spawn, worms, insect larvae, mollusks, aquatic insects, and small crustaceans.

Mollusk – by Klaus Stiefel (Flickr.com)
Aquatic insect
Aquatic insect – _Z2A9228 aquatic leaf beetle, Donacia sp., on water lily pad – by budak – (Flickr.com)
Crustacean – Freshwater crustacean
Anemone fish spawn
Anemone fish spawn – by Silke Baron (Flickr.com)
Worms – by Toshiyuki IMAI (Flickr.com)
Insect larvae
Insect larvae – Ladybug larvae – by Katja Schulz (Flickr.com)

Because they are extremely voracious and mainly eat insect larvae, the population of the rare dragonflies is even more threatened.

Dragonfly – by Michele Dorsey Walfred (Flickr.com)
Dragonfly larvae
Dragonfly larvae – by bgv23 (Flickr.com)

How do these animals mate?

After one year, the Eastern Mudminnow is already sexually mature and they reproduce in the period from March-May.

The females will clear a space in the vegetation that will become their “nest”. Nests are also formed in algal cavities, cavities in the sand, and under loose rocks. Here they will guard their brood for a few days after the eggs hatch.

The males take an active part in the courtship, vibrating their bodies while showing their fins.

Eastern Mudminnow in the human diet & How do you fish for Eastern Mudminnow?

Since this fish only grows to a maximum of 15 cm, it is not used in human consumption. I, therefore, think that the little animal will have little to no taste… The anglers also do not go fishing for it.

If you really want to catch such a fish, you have to go especially to a place where they like to be and that is in water with muddy, dark places and water with high acidity. The animal itself is really lazy and one has to let the bait dangle in front of his nose, as it were. The bait has to move too… Using a feeding spot makes no sense at all.

Since not many other fish species survive in such water, the angler will of course choose a place where various species can be caught.

As a result, the Eastern Mudminnow is very exceptionally and rarely caught. The only one where one can possibly speak of commercial use is in the world of aquarium enthusiasts.

Enemies of the Eastern Mudminnow

The fish is so small that it naturally has many enemies (just about anything bigger). But because of their living environment in “acidic” water, they are not large in number. Rather, they are used as baitfish themselves by the angler.

Endangered Species?

The Eastern Mudminnow is not on the list(s) of endangered species.


This is where I come to the end of this article. I hope you found it interesting and of course, any questions, additional information, comments, ambiguities, or untruths can always be left behind. Thanks in advance!

Leave a Comment