Notropis blennius
River Shiner

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The natural history of the northwoods



  • Notropis, from the Greek, "back keel"
  • blennius, from the Latin name for the marine fish called a blenny, which it resembles somewhat.
  • Common Name from its preferred habitat in running waters.
  • Other common names include: Shiner, Poor Minnow, Straw-colored 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 Notropis, the eastern shiners


  • A
  • Length 2½"
  • Weight
  • Coloration
    • olive-straw colored on back
    • silvery sides
    • white to silvery belly
  • Body
    • robust and slightly compressed laterally
    • lateral band, if present, is faint.
    • mid-dorsal stripe from the top of the head to the tail, well developed and surrounding the base of the dorsal fin
    • dorsal fin inserted over the pelvic fin, both with 8 rays.
    • pectoral fins of 13-15 rays
    • anal fin usually has 7 rays
    • complete lateral line of 32-37 scales
  • Head
    • large mouth, slightly sub-terminal, and moderately oblique
    • barbel lacking
    • pharyngeal teeth strongly hooked, on stout arches in a 2, 4-4, 2 pattern



  • Alberta and Wyoming east to Pennsylvania, south to Texas and Tennessee.
  • Common in the Rainy River drainage of northern Minnesota.


  • Swift channels of larger rivers, where turbidity may be high.
  • Only rarely in lakes.


  • Aquatic insects.




  • Spawns over sand and gravel bars late spring through mid-summer.



Boreal border

Last updated on 17 October 1999