The golden topminnow is very rare in North Carolina, but is found from South Carolina to Texas along the Gulf Coastal Plain states. This colorful fish prefers shallow, warm, vegetated waters and can tolerate moderate salt levels.
A small fish, about 1.5 – 3.5 inches, which lacks a lateral line. It is olive green to yellow with iridescent golden flecks. Males can develop olive green bars and red spots along the sides of the body. Fins are yellow or white. Females and juveniles can have small blue spots on their body.
Recorded from only a few small streams in Columbus County, close to the South Carolina border.
The topminnow is found in shallow, slow, warm waters with heavy vegetation, including ditches, creeks, swamps, and backwaters. It can also live in moderately salty habitats.
Generally living alone, the golden topminnow spawns in floating plant roots in late spring and early summer and the eggs hatch in approximately two weeks. The eggs are laid singly, with female producing about 10-20 a day for a week. Juveniles mature around ten months of age. This fish feeds primarily on aquatic insects and small crustaceans at the surface of the water, supplementing their diet when necessary with snails and plants. Topminnows live about two years in the wild.