Species At Risk

Blackstripe Topminnow

(Fundulus notatus)

Special Concern

Blackstripe Topminnow
Blackstripe Topminnow occurrences map


The Blackstripe Topminnow is a small member of the Killifish family, and normally grows to about five to seven centimetres long. It has a streamlined shape for fast swimming and an upturned mouth which help in ambushing adult insects which are taken from the water’s surface. Males have a black horizontal band with vertical bars on their sides and yellowish fins, whereas females lack the vertical bars and have slightly paler fins.

Action we are taking:


The Blackstripe Topminnow occurs in the south-central United States, ranging from the Gulf states north to the lower Great Lakes. In Canada, this species occurs only in the Sydenham River and associated creeks in southwestern Ontario.


This species prefers slow-flowing streams which have abundant plant cover within the stream. In addition, a key part of the species habitat is an abundance of vegetation on the stream banks. These vegetated areas are important habitats as they provide areas where the species can hide from predators and where they can find food.


Blackstripe Topminnows rely on healthy plant life within the stream and along its banks as a source of cover and food supply. Activities that remove or alter this vegetation, including access to the rivers and trampling of banks by livestock and shoreline modifications pose a threat to the survival of Blackstripe Topminnow. Additional threats may include channelization of watercourses and drainage of wetlands and removal of water for irrigation, all of which may alter the natural flows in the streams and creeks where they live, making the species more susceptible to low-flow conditions. Other potential threats include oil seepage from oil wells, sedimentation, nutrient loading, exotic species and agricultural pesticides.


The Blackstripe Topminnow is listed as a species of Special Concern under Ontario’s Endangered Species Act. Although species of Special Concern do not receive legal protection under this act, this species does receive general protection provided by habitat sections of the federal Fisheries Act.

What You Can Do to Help the Blackstripe Topminnow

  • The Ministry of Natural Resources tracks species at risk such as the Blackstripe Topminnow. You can use a handy online form to report your sightings to the Natural Heritage Information Centre. Photographs with specific locations or mapping coordinates are always helpful. nhic.mnr.gov.on.ca
  • Report any illegal activity related to plants and wildlife to 1-877-TIPS-MNR (847-7667).
  • Private land owners have a very important role to play in species at risk recovery. You may be eligible for stewardship programs that support the protection and recovery of species at risk and their habitats.
  • Volunteer with your local nature club or provincial park to participate in surveys or stewardship work focused on species at risk.
  • Land owners can help improve fish habitat and keep Ontario’s water safe and clean by maintaining natural vegetation next to creeks and rivers, and keeping pollution and soil from washing into Ontario’s rivers. You can find more information about programs and funding assistance for eligible farmers from the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association website at www.ontariosoilcrop.org/en/programs/species_at_risk.htm.

Did you know?

The Blackstripe Topminnow was first discovered in Ontario in 1972, however it is believed that it has always lived here and has always been very rare.

Did you know?

Male Blackstripe Topminnows tend to have larger dorsal and anal fins then the females.

Did you know?

Blackstripe Topminnows are only found in a very small area of Ontario and may have one of the smallest distributions of any fish in Canada.

Did you know?

Blackstripe Topminnows live for two to three years. In the summer, they tend to stay within a few centimetres of the surface of the water. In the winter, they retreat to deeper water.

Did you know?

The Blackstripe Topminnow is one of very few fish species in Canada that feed primarily on terrestrial insects (the Redside Dace, considered to be Endangered, is another).

Did you know?

In the summer, females lay 20-30 eggs which the male attaches individually to aquatic plants.

The Endangered Species Act

Contact your local ministry office

Often the best source of local information on species at risk is your nearest ministry office. Call with your questions or concerns.