Notropis heterodon
Blackchin Shiner

Blackchin Shiner

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



  • Notropis, from the Greek, "back keel"
  • heterodon, from the Greek, "varying tooth"
  • Common name from the extension of the dark lateral band forward to the lower jaw
  • Other common names include: Black-chinned Minnow, Black-striped Minnow, 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 small black stripe minnow of northern lakes.
  • Length 2"-3"
  • Weight
  • Coloration
    • olive-straw overlaid with silvery on the back
    • shading to silvery-white on the belly
    • prominant lateral band from chin through eye to the tail, surrounding the snout and lower mandible, giving rise to the common name.
  • Body
    • stout
    • dorsal, anal, and pelvic fins of 8 rays
    • pectoral fins of 12-14 rays
    • scales on breast ahead of pectoral fins
    • lateral line of 36 scales, but not all have pores
  • Head
    • mouth terminal, with an oblique angle
    • barbel lacking
    • pharyngeal teeth strongly hooked, with well developed cutting edges, in a 1, 4-4, 1 pattern



  • North Dakota to Quebec, south to Iowa and New York.
  • Abundant in the lake region of northern Minnesota.


  • Slow, clear, vegetated water over a sand bottom in large streams and the shallow parts of lakes.
  • Appears intolerant of silt and is becoming uncommon over much of its range.


  • A great variety of prey, about half from open water and the other half from vegetation, the surface, and the bottom.
  • Aquatic insects and cladocera at the water's surface.



  • Its intolerance of silt and its need for dense weed beds make it a good indicator of water quality.




Boreal border

Last updated on 18 October 1999