Invasion History

First Non-native North American Tidal Record: 1973
First Non-native West Coast Tidal Record: 2000
First Non-native East/Gulf Coast Tidal Record: 1973

General Invasion History:

The Bluefin Killifish (Lucania goodei) was described from the St. Johns River, Florida. It is native to the Florida peninsula from the Georgia border to the tip of Florida, and west on the Panhandle to the Choctawhatchee River (Page and Burr 1991). There is an early (1880) record from the Santee River system, near Columbia, South Carolina, far upstream from Charleston (USNM 149260, US National Museum of Natural History 2009), but populations in coastal South and North Carolina are considered introduced. It is considered a predominantly freshwater fish, although it has been caught at salinities up to 10 PSU in Florida, and some individuals can survive and develop at 30 PSU (Fuller 2008; Fuller and Noa 2008). Bluefin Killifish are attractive freshwater aquarium fish, widely sold and kept. Introduced populations have been reported from fresh and brackish waters in North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, and California (Loyacano 1975; Christie and Curtis 1975; Lindquist et al. 1977; Huang et al. 2003; USGS Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Program 2018). These scattered introductions of the Bluefin Killifish are likely due to releases of aquarium fish, or of eggs transported in aquatic plants shipped from Florida.

North American Invasion History:

Invasion History on the West Coast:

Specimens of Lucania goodei were caught in 1980 in a lily pond at north entrance to Los Angeles County Museum. This population only survived for a few months (Swift et al. 1993; USGS Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Program 2018). In 2000, seven individuals of L.goodei were caught in the San Dieguito River lagoon, in San Diego County, California, at ~16 PSU (Huang et al. 2003). The fish persisted through 2001 when the salinity increased to 34-35 PSU and where captured in 2004 (Steele et al. 2007), indicating an established population, however, no specimens have been captured since then (David Huang, personal communication, 8/8/2018). In October 2017, 15 specimens of L. goodei were caught in Snodgrass Slough, on the Upper Mokelumne Ricer, on the inland edge of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. The specimens were genetically identified (USGS Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Program 2018).

Invasion History on the East Coast:

Populations of Bluefin Killifish (L. goodei) established in the Cooper River, South Carolina, upstream of Charleston starting in 1973 (Loyacano 1975; Christie and Curtis 1975), and in Cape Fear River tributaries near Wilmington, North Carolina in 1977 (Lindquist et al. 1977; Menhnnick 1991). On the Gulf Coast, these fish were collected in an artificial wetland at a business near Victoria, Texas in 1998. This population has apparently spread, because fish collected in canals near Green Lake, near the mouth of the Guadelupe River, flowing into San Antonio Bay in 2009. In 2011, fish were found in Buffalo Bayou, in the suburbs of Houston (USGS Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Program 2018)


The Bluefin Killifish (Lucania goodei) is a small freshwater fish, which occasionally enters brackish and even marine waters (Fuller and Noa 2008). Killifish of the family Fundulidae have a somewhat streamlined body, with soft-rayed dorsal and anal fins, a rounded or squareish tail, abdominal pelvic fins, and moderate-sized scales, and a small upturned mouth. The origin of the dorsal fin is anterior to that of the anal fin. This fish has 9-12 dorsal rays and 29 to 32 lateral line scales. The body is relatively slender and laterally compressed. This fish is small, usually 29 mm, but can reach 50 mm long. The back of the fish is dusky to olive brown and the sides are white, with a wide, zigzag black stripe from the tip of the nose to the base of the tail. The dorsal and anal fins of large males are bright blue, with orange at the bases, and black outer margins. Males have an orange tinge at the base of the tail. The fins of the females are clear (Page and Burr 1991; Rohde et al. 1994; Froese and Pauly 2018).


Taxonomic Tree

Kingdom:   Animalia
Phylum:   Chordata
Subphylum:   Vertebrata
Superclass:   Osteichthyes
Class:   Actinopterygii
Subclass:   Neopterygii
Infraclass:   Teleostei
Superorder:   Acanthopterygii
Order:   Cyprinodontiformes
Suborder:   Cyprinodontoidei
Family:   Fundulidae
Genus:   Lucania
Species:   goodei


Chriopeops goodei (Fowler, 1916)
Lucania goodei (Jordan, 1889)

Potentially Misidentified Species

Lucania parva
Lucania parva (Rainwater Killfish) lacks the bright blue fins, and has a faint dusky stripe along the side. Males have a black spot on the dorsal fin, and a dusky orange tint on the dorsal, anal, and tail. This killifish is most common in brackish water (Page and Burr 1991).



The Bluefin Killifish (Lucania goodei) is a small, primarily freshwater fish, which also has some ability to survive in brackish and marine waters (Fuller 2009; Huang et al. 2011; Froese and Pauly 2018). The sexes are dimorphic, with males tending to be slightly larger, with bright-colored fins. The fish mature by their second year, and only live for about 2 years. Bluefin Killifish spawn year-round in the southern part of the range, but in the Carolinas they breed in summer (Rohde et al. 1994). Females carry about 200 eggs (Froese and Pauly 2018). Males establish territories in densely vegetated areas, and display by flicking their fins to display and hide the colors. Eggs are probably deposited singly. (Rohde et al. 1994).

The range of Bluefin Killifish (Lucania goodei) is limited at the northern boundary by low winter temperatures, but seem to prefer shaded, vegetated, cooler sites in the southern part of the range. Optimal aquarium temperatures are 12-22 C (Froese and Pauly 2018). Reports of Bluefin Killifish in brackish water have been rare (10 PSU at Cedar Key Florida, Kilby 1955, cited by Fuller 2008). However, a population was discovered in the San Dieguito River Lagoon, California, surviving at 15-35 PSU (Huang et al. 2003; Steele et al. 2007). Bluefin Killifish eggs hatched with ~80% success at 0 and 10 PSU, but with ~25% and 10% success at 20-30 PSU. Most of the larvae hatched at 10-20% survived at least to the onset of feeding (Fuller 2008). Usually, Bluefin Killifish prefer thickly vegetated habitats, where they usually swim well below the surface. Their food consists of invertebrates, algae, bits of aquatic plants, such as Vallisneria sp. (Froese and Pauly 2018; Rohde et al. 1994). The Bluefin Killifish and the more estuarine Rainwater Killifish (L. parva) overlap in fresh and some brackish-water sites, but the differences in their salinity tolerance probably minimizes competition (Dunson and Travis 1991; Fuller and Noa 2008).


small crustaceans, molluscs, worms, plants




Lucania parva

Trophic Status:




General HabitatNontidal FreshwaterNone
General HabitatTidal Fresh MarshNone
General HabitatGrass BedNone
General HabitatMangrovesNone
Salinity RangeLimnetic0-0.5 PSU
Salinity RangeOligohaline0.5-5 PSU
Salinity RangeMesohaline5-18 PSU
Salinity RangePolyhaline18-30 PSU
Tidal RangeSubtidalNone
Vertical HabitatNektonicNone

Tolerances and Life History Parameters

Minimum Salinity (‰)0This is a predominantly freshwater species.
Maximum Salinity (‰)35An introduced population persisted at salinities up to 35 PSU (Huang 2001). Fish were able to regulate body sodium content at 20 and 25 PSU with acute and gradual transfers. At a salinity of 35 PSU, there was only 10-40% survival with acute transfer, but a small number of specimens may be able to adapt to high salinities with gradual transfer (Dunson and Travis 1991).
Minimum Reproductive Salinity0This is a freshwater species.
Maximum Reproductive Salinity30In experiments, a low percentage of eggs and larvae (10-20%) developed to the point of active feeding at 20-30 PSU (Fuller 2008).
Maximum Length (mm)50Page and Burr 1991
Broad Temperature RangeNoneWarm Temperate-Subtropical
Broad Salinity RangeNoneNontidal Limnetic-Euhaline

General Impacts

No ecological impacts have been reported for introduced populations of Bluefin Killifish (Lucania goodei).

Regional Distribution Map

Bioregion Region Name Year Invasion Status Population Status
P022 _CDA_P022 (San Diego) 2000 Def Extinct
S180 St. Johns River 0 Native Estab
G078 _CDA_G078 (Waccasassa) 0 Native Estab
G090 Apalachee Bay 0 Native Estab
S190 Indian River 0 Native Estab
S080 Charleston Harbor 1973 Def Estab
S200 Biscayne Bay 0 Native Estab
G080 Suwannee River 0 Native Estab
G050 Charlotte Harbor 0 Native Estab
S160 St. Andrew/St. Simons Sounds 1945 Crypto Estab
G070 Tampa Bay 0 Native Estab
G120 Choctawhatchee Bay 0 Native Estab
S050 Cape Fear River 1991 Def Estab
G010 Florida Bay 0 Native Estab
P090 San Francisco Bay 2017 Def Estab

Occurrence Map

OCC_ID Author Year Date Locality Status Latitude Longitude


Christie, Richard W., Curtis, Tom A. (1983) Establishment of bluefin killifish, Lucania goodei, in Cooper River, South Carolina, Georgia Journal of Science 41: 91-92

Fuentes, Verónica L.; Atienza, Dacha; Gili, Josep-Maria; Purcell, Jennifer E. (2009) First records of Mnemiopsis leidyi A. Agassiz 1865 off the NW Mediterranean coast of Spain, Aquatic Invasions 4(4): <missing location>

Fuller, Rebecca C. (2008) A test for a trade-off in salinity tolerance in early life-history stages in Lucania goodei and L. parva., Copeia 2008(1): 154-157

Huang, David; Lea, Robert N.; Wolf, Jennifer (2003) Occurrence of the bluefin killifish, Lucania goodei, in the San Dieguito River, Southern California., Bulletin of the Southern California Academy of Sciences 102(1): 46-49

Lleonart, M.; Handlinger, J.; Powell, M. (2003) Treatment of spionid mud worm (Boccardia knoxi Rainer) infestation of cultured abalone, Aquaculture 217: 1-10

Lorenz, Jerome J. (1999) The response of fishes to physicochemical changes in the mangroves of northeast Florida Bay, Estuaries 22(2B): 500-517

Loyacano, Harold A. (1975) Occurrence Of Bluefin Killifish, Lucania goodei, In South Carolina, Bulletin of the Georgia Academy of Science 33: 117-119

Menhinick, Edward F. (1991) The Freshwater Fishes of North Carolina, North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, Raleigh. Pp. 45-203

Page, Lawrence M.; Burr, Brooks M. (1991) Freshwater Fishes: North America North of Mexico, Houghton-Mifflin, Boston. Pp. <missing location>

Rohde, Fred C.; Arndt, Rudolf G.; Lindquist, David G.; Parnell, James F. (1994) Freshwater fishes of the Carolinas, Virginia, and Delaware, Universilty of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill NC. Pp. <missing location>

Simon, Carol A.; Bentley, Matthew G.; Caldwell, Gary S. (2010) 2,4-Decadienal: Exploring a novel approach for the control of polychaete pests on cultured abalone, Aquaculture 310: 52-60

Steele, Mark A.; Schroeter, Stephen C.; Page, Henry M. (2007) Preliminary investigation of the effects of purse seine size on estimates of density and species richness of estuarine fishes, Estuaries and Coasts 30(2): 344-347

Swift, Camm C., Haglund, Thomas R., Ruiz, Mario, Fisher, Robert N. (1993) The status and distribution of the freshwater fishes of southern California, Bulletin of the Southern California Academy of Sciences 92(3): 101-167

U.S. National Museum of Natural History 1996-2014 NMNH Fish Collection Database.. <missing URL>

USGS Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Program 2003-2022 Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database.