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Mosquitofish – What are they and can I use them?

If you live near a body of water where there are a lot of mosquitoes in your area, you may consider securing some mosquito fish. The mosquito fish is a small freshwater fish whose scientific generic name is Gambusia. It is also called the Gambezi.

The female is the larger of the species topping out at just under 3 in long. She can be distinguished from her male counterpart by a black dot on her abdomen.

As you may have guessed, the mosquitofish gets its name from the fact that it eats mosquito, thus hence preventing them from maturing into flying mosquito parasites. Depending on where you live in Florida, your local government may actually give away free small bags of these fish to put in the pond or lake in your area. This is part of a proactive approach in mosquito control. Other measures include aerosolized mosquito insecticide. You will often see and or hear these trucks drive through your neighborhood spraying insecticide into the air.

It is important to inquire as to whether the body of water to which you plan on introducing this fish is appropriate for the introduction. Mosquitofish,  like any other species, have an impact on its environment. They have been known to eat larvae of other fish, which may upset the balance of small bodies of water.

malaria casesThe mosquitofish has a long and successful career in helping eradicate malaria in South America and Southwestern Asia. From the 1920s to the 1950s, these fish were introduced in these areas with great success. These measures along with other tactics helped reduce malaria cases tremendously.

Like we said, mosquitofish eat larvae of mosquitoes as well eggs of other fish. But in reality, it is an opportunist that consumes most any organic matter in its environment. These include zooplankton, small insects, any and all larvae, and just about anything they can get there little fishy mouths on. In fact, these fish have even been known to eat their own young. Yikes.

Still, chances are the lake or pond behind your home could handle these fish just fine. They will improve the level of mosquitoes in your area, which we can all agree is a good thing.


Fish image By NOZO CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Malaria graph from

26 Jun

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