Until July 2014, there were no documented fish species in NATL. When schools of small fish were seen swimming in the SEEP, an investigation began! As of August 2014, the fish spotted in the SEEP have been identified to species and an additional species was found in the wetlands of NATL-east.

From January through May 2015, a thorough survey of fish species in both NATL-east and NATL-west was conducted. This survey brought the total number of NATL’s fish species to six, two of which are non-native.

The native species found in the NATL-east marsh (Least Killifish, Sailfin Molly, and Eastern Mosquitofish) have all likely been living and breeding there for many years before the creation of NATL. All three are very small and prolific livebearers which are common throughout Florida. The one non-native species in the marsh, the Variable Platy, is a popular aquarium fish and the population is likely descended from escaped or discarded pets.

NATL’s SEEP is home to two species, the Fathead Minnow and Golden Shiner; however, the Golden Shiner is native. There seems to be no obvious natural cause for their presence in NATL, they are not present in any nearby water bodies within flooding distance. However, as both species are very commonly used for live bait by fishermen in Florida, the most likely explanation is that disappointed fisherman who came to SEEP dumped their bait into the water when they realized there were no fish to be caught in the pond. This would better explain the presence of the non-native Fathead Minnow.

The sinkhole only floods seasonally and is fed by runoff from the East Marsh, therefore fish are swept downstream by the current into the sinkhole. This is why the species found there are almost identical (the Variable Platy was not recorded in the sinkhole) to those in the marsh.

Superclass Osteichthyes
Class Actinopterygii


Notemigonus crysoleucas

    Golden Shiner


Pimephales promelas

    Fathead Minnow*


Gambusia holbrooki

    Eastern Mosquitofish

Eastern Mosquitofish

Heterandria formosa

    Least Killifish


Poecilia latipinna

    Sailfin Molly


Xiphophorus variatus

    Variable Platy*


*species is not native to Florida

Fish were identified to species by Dr. Larry Page, Rob Robins, and Zachary S. Randall at the Florida Museum of Natural History, Dickinson Hall. Survey was conducted by Gabriel Somarriba, College of Agricultural and Life Sciences.
Photo credit: Zachary S. Randall.