Notropis cornuta
Common Shiner

Common Shiner

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



  • Notropis, from the Greek, "back keel"
  • cornuta, from the Latin, "horned"
  • Common name because it's, well, common.
  • Other common names include: Creek Shiner, Dace, Eastern Shiner, Hornyhead, Redfin Shiner, Rough-head, Silver Shiner, Silverside, Skipjack


  • 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
  • Also known as Luxilus cornutus


  • One of the largest of the native shiners.
  • Length
    • up to 8"
    • averaging 2½"-4"
  • Weight
  • Coloration
    • olive-green with bluish reflections on back and sides
    • belly silvery
    • breeding males tinted with pink over their entire body with dusky dorsal and tail fins.
    • one of a few minnow species having dark pigmentation behind scattered scales, giving the appearance of missing scales.
  • Body
    • stout and robust
    • moderately compressed laterally
    • scales along the sides elevated, diamond shaped in appearance
    • broad mid-dorsal stripe, along the top of the back, subtended by 2 or 3 narrow, parallel stripes
    • dorsal and pelvic fins of 8 rays
    • pectoral fins of 15-17 rays
    • anal fin usually of 9 rays
  • Head
    • head, eyes, and mouth seem noticeably large in comparison with similar species
    • mouth large, terminal, and nearly horizontal
    • no barbel
    • pharyngeal teeth strongly hooked, on sturdy arches in a 2, 4-4, 2 pattern



  • Saskatchewan to Quebec, south to Colorado, Kansas, and the Gulf Coast.


  • Both warm and coldwater streams; in the latter, it may be found in the same waters as trout.
  • Prefer clear water and reach their greatest abundance in the upstream tributaries of major interior rivers.


  • Both plant and animal material.
  • Feeds at or just below the water surface, primarily on insects.



  • Common and readily caught, it is a popular bait minnow
  • Important forage for game fish.
  • Takes a fly readily and is often caught by beginning fly fishermen.


  • Spawns in spring in riffles over gravel, with some males excavating their own small nests. Commonly spawns over the nest of a Creek Chub or River Chub as well.
  • Hybridizes regularly with other minnow that spawn at the same time.



Boreal border

Last updated on 17 October 1999