Sheepshead Minnow

Sheepshead Minnow
Cyprinodon variegatus


Every so often, as our students sort through the catch from our seine hauls on the Patuxent River, we find a stubby little minnow with a short rounded tail. The Sheepshead Minnow is always a favorite catch because of its interesting shape and coloration. The Sheepshead Minnow is a member of the killifish family, a common group of shallow water fish that are found throughout the Bay region.

Like all of the killifish, the Sheepshead Minnow spends its time near the surface where it feeds on small invertebrates. During the high tides the Sheepshead may venture deeper into the marsh to feed. The fish are sometimes stranded as the tide recedes and must await another high tide to exit the marsh. The minnows are vulnerable to predators such as herons and water snakes when stranded in puddles in the marsh. Quite often during the canoe trips through the marsh of Cocktown Creek, the seventh grade students will observe these predators feeding on the unlucky minnows.

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