Jordanella floridae -
Described by: Goode & Bean,
Named for: David Starr Jordan, the first president of Stanford
University. He was a renowned American zoologist and ichthyologist who
specialized in American fish The species name refers to where it’s
Family: Cyprinodontidae (Pupfishes), subfamily:
Order: Cyprinodontiformes (rivulines, killifishes and live
Common Name: Flagfish; American Flagfish
Synonyms: Cyprinodon floridae
Size: Males can reach 2 ½ -3” (6-7.6 cm), females get only about
2/3 of this size.
Sexing: Sexually dimorphic. Females have a spot on the back of their
dorsal and on their sides that males do not. Males have a brilliant
red-orange colour on their sides. The male loses his dorsal spot as he
Locale: North America; along the Gulf Coast (mainly Florida). They are
found in slow moving waters such as swamps, ponds, lakes and ditches.
Flagfish prefer a temperature of 18 - 22°C (64-71°F).
Since flagfish are so unique, they have been identified as cichlids and
sunfish. In fact, they are pupfish (a branch of the killifish family),
with their own genus. In fact, Jordanella sometimes act as if they are
cichlids. They are very tolerant of differing conditions, and will even
breed in water conditions that you wouldn’t expect. Flagfish are a
great beginner killifish.
Flagfish do well on a diet of algae and other greens. In fact, if they
aren’t fed well enough, they’ll start eating your aquarium plants. They
enjoy insects as well. So a well rounded flake diet including some
protein and vegetable matter should be given to these fish.
There are several methods of spawning in these fish which has led to
some confusion among hobbyists. Generally, this has to do with what
sort of “habitat” is available to them. If they are kept in deeper
tanks or ponds, they tend to lay their eggs near the surface if
possible. Generally, if there is too much current near the surface they
will spawn deeper in the tank. As far as I can find, they do not tend
to spawn on the bottom. If they are in a shallow tank, Jordanella
floridae the male will guard the eggs and fan them. They are not laid
on the bottom directly, but on plants or algae near the bottom of the
It’s believed that the young do not develop properly if they are
trapped in too deep water. This fits in with how the flagfish try to
spawn near the surface since it means the fry should develop in
shallower water (e.g. along the shoreline). They are also spawned using
the typical killifish trick of using a spawning mop.
The habit of flagfish to eat algae is a good one in an aquarium. They
will keep algae under control. Personally, I keep my flagfish out in my
pond during the summer and place them in a tank for the winter months.
I don’t feed my pond except at the beginning of the year when there’s
not a lot of food available yet. I usually end up with more fish than I
started with. The first year I placed Jordanella outdoors, I ended up
with about 15 young and the original 6 fish I placed into the pond. The
pond is only 150 gallons so I don’t expect large numbers of fish. The
year after that, I ended up with over 30 young and the original parents
again. The third year was a bit different though. I only came up with
two of the original 3 males, and none of the original females. However,
I did come up with 2 females from the second year. I also got a bunch
of fry. Some were so small I had to raise them separately for a while
so they could get some size on them so they could go in the bigger tank
with the rest of the flagfish. While the flagfish are inside they are
on a diet of flakes, and treats of baby brine shrimp. They are
absolutely stunning in colour and I don’t see why more people don’t
keep them in tanks.
© Copyright 2004 Lisa Boorman
All Rights Reserved
To see other
references on killfish or native North American fish:
Native American Fish Book List
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