Notropis dorsalis
Bigmouth Shiner

Bigmouth Shiner

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The natural history of the northwoods



  • Notropis, from the Greek, "back keel"
  • dorsalis, from the Latin, "of the back"
  • Common Name
  • Other common names include: Gilbert`s Minnow, Central Bigmouth Shiner


  • 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 common midwestern minnow
  • Length to 3"
  • Weight
  • Coloration
    • olive-yellow on back
    • silvery on sides and belly
    • mid-dorsal stripe, running along the top of the body, continuous around the base of the dorsal fin
    • no pigment around the vent or at the base of anal fin
  • Body
    • slender, flat-bellied, and hump backed
    • lateral band not present
    • lateral line has about 35 scales, complete with paired markings called "mouse tracks" at each pore
    • scales in front of the dorsal fin are smaller, crowded, and exceed 16 in number.
    • dorsal, anal, and pelvic fins of 8 rays
    • pectoral fins of 14-15 rays.
  • Head
    • quite large
    • eyes appear to focus upward when viewed from above
    • mouth horizontal, on bottom of head and overhung by the snout
    • lacks barbel
    • pharyngeal teeth hooked, on slender arches in a 1, 4-4, 1 pattern



  • Wyoming and Colorado, east through Minnesota and Missouri, to New York and Pennsylvania.
  • Not known from the Lake Superior drainage.


  • Typically sand bottom streams.


  • Bottom feeder consuming aquatic insects, detritus, and plant material



  • One of the most important forage fishes and an important bait minnow.


  • Spawns May through July.



Boreal border

Last updated on 18 October 1999