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Species: Cyprinodon variegatus, Sheepshead Minnow, Sheepshead Minnow Pupfish

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cheek not deep
large scale behind operculum
female - black spot on D
teeth - 3 points
scale edges smooth
large scale behind operculum

Cyprinodon variegatus Lacepede, 1803

Sheepshead Minnow, Sheepshead Minnow Pupfish

Body moderately deep and chubby; head flattened, upper profile straight; snout short and blunt; cheek not deep (distance from edge of bone under eye to corner of preoperculum < length of opercle); front nostril not tubular; covering of eye not continuous with skin of head; mouth moderately wide, oblique, at front, protrusible; teeth 3-pointed, in single series; gill rakers 18-23; dorsal fin short-based, 9-11 rays, at mid-body, its origin before anal fin origin, and slightly before pelvic origin; anal fin with 8-10 branched rays; pectoral fin short, 13-15 rays, low on side; pelvics small, 6-7 rays, on belly well behind pectoral base; tail fin bluntly rounded; body with large, smooth scales, 24-27 lateral scales, free edges of scales not scalloped; head scaly; an enlarged, elongate scale just behind upper corner of operculum; lateral line reduced to a series of pits along side of body.

Male olivaceus, with blue and green pigment from nape to dorsal fin; a series of poorly defined dark bars on flank; belly yellowish to orange; pectoral orange, with black rear edge; pelvics and anal fin yellow, with dark rear edges; rear edge of tail fin dark. Female light olive, brown, brassy or orange above, with 9-14 dark bars on side, alternating with 7-8 light bars; lower side and belly yellowish white, an ocellus at rear of dorsal fin; rest of fins clear.

Reaches 10 cm.

In shallow water with submerged vegetation; fresh to full strength seawater.

Depth range: 0-2 m.

Massachusetts to the Yucatan, the Bahamas, the Greater Antilles.

Note: The island forms may be distinct subspecies – C. variegatus baconi from the Bahamas and C. variegatus riverendi from the Antilles.

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  • Brackish
  • Freshwater
  • Hypersaline
  • Marine
  • Inshore
  • Inshore Only
Water Column Position
  • Bottom
  • Submerged vegetation
  • Estuary
  • Freshwater
FishBase Habitat
  • Demersal
Feeding Group
  • Data
  • Detritivore
  • Omnivore
  • Data
  • Benthic microalgae
  • Detritus
  • Insects
  • Mobile benthic crustacea (shrimps/crabs)
Egg Type
  • Benthic
  • Data
  • No pelagic larva
  • No pelagic phase
Global Endemism
  • All species
  • Greater Caribbean non-endemic
  • West Atlantic Endemic
Regional Endemism
  • Continent
  • Continent + Island (s)
  • Extends North of GC
  • GC non-endemic
  • Island (s)
  • All species
  • Resident
Climate Zone
  • Subtropical (23-35N, Florida / Carolinas / Bermuda)
  • Temperate (>35N)
  • Tropical (10-23N, Nicaragua / Cuba)
IUCN Red List
  • Least concern
  • Listed
  • Not listed
Length Max
  • 10
Depth Range Min
  • 0
Depth Range Max
  • 2