Hybognathus hankinsoni
Brassy Minnow

Brassy Minnow

Flora, fauna, earth, and sky...
The natural history of the northwoods



  • Hybognathus, from the Greek, "bulging jaw"
  • hankinsoni, in honor of T.L. Hankinson, a zoologist at the University of North Dakota who made early fish surveys in that state.
  • Common Name from the brassy hue of breeding males.
  • Other common names include: Grass Minnow, Hankinson`s Minnow


  • Kingdom Animalia
    • Phylum Chordata, animals with a spinal chord
    • Subphylum Vertebrata, animals with a backbone
      • Superclass Osteichthyes, bony fishes
      • Class Actinopterygii, ray-finned and spiny rayed fishes
      • Subclass Neopterygii
      • Infraclass Teleostei
        • Superorder Ostariophysi
        • Order Cypriniformes, minnows and suckers
        • Family Cyprinidae, carps and minnows
          • Genus Hybognathus, the silvery minnows


  • A common midwestern minnow.
  • Length averages 2½", up to 3"-4"
  • Weight
  • Coloration
    • dark above
    • shading to yellowish-brassy sides
    • creamy belly
  • Body
    • elongate in body form and slightly compressed laterally
    • body scales have about 20 lines that fan out from the focus of the scale
    • complete lateral line of 36 to 40 scales
  • Head
    • mouth small, sub-terminal, and without barbel
    • pharyngeal teeth with grinding surfaces, arranged in a 4-4 pattern



  • Great Lakes region, Upper Missouri, and Mississippi drainage systems with scattered populations west as far as British Columbia.


  • Common in small streams and ponds, moderate-sized streams and small rivers, apparently preferring those with boggy, acid waters.
  • Often found in overflow ponds in the floodplain.
  • Usually found in close association with the Fathead Minnow.


  • Primarily a plant eater, feeding heavily on algae.
  • Also feeds on bottom ooze and aquatic insect larvae



  • Desirable for, and extensively used as, bait.
  • Important as a forage fish for Brook Trout.


  • Spawns in early spring in quiet water; little else is known of its spawning habits.



Boreal border

Last updated on 15 October 1999