Notropis anogenusPugnose shiner

Geographic Range

Pugnose shiners are mostly restricted to the Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins from eastern Ontario and western New York to southeastern North Dakota and central Illinois, where they are now extirpated. They can also be found in the Red River drainage (Hudson Bay basin) of Minnesota and South Dakota. ("COSEWIC assessment and update status report on the pugnose shiner in Canada.", 2002; Derosier, 2004; Page and Burr, 2011)


Pugnose shiners inhabit clear vegetated lakes as well as similar habitats in pools and runs of low gradient streams and rivers. They are extremely intolerant to turbidity. (Derosier, 2004)

  • Aquatic Biomes
  • lakes and ponds
  • rivers and streams
  • temporary pools
  • Range depth
    2 (high) m
    6.56 (high) ft

Physical Description

Pugnose shiners have a very small mouth that sits at an extremely sharp upward angle. Laterally, they are silver-colored with a dark midlateral stripe, which extends anteriorly around the snout and posteriorly to form a wedge on the base of the caudal fin. Dorsally, they show a yellow to olive color, as well as a thin, dark line along the back. (Page and Burr, 2011)

Pugnose shiners have a black peritoneum, which helps to distinguish them from the similarly colored pugnose minnow (Opsopoeodus emiliae), which has a silvery-white peritoneum. They have clear fins with 7 or 8 anal fin rays, and a complete lateral line, which distinguishes this species from the brindle shiner (Notropis bifrenatus), which has a similar appearance, but has an incomplete lateral line. (Page and Burr, 2011)

  • Range length
    20 to 59 mm
    0.79 to 2.32 in
  • Average length
    46 mm
    1.81 in


There are no direct studies of pugnose shiner development. Studies of the early development and life history of two related species, N. girardi and N. rubellus, indicate that Notropis eggs generally hatch one to two days after fertilization. Larvae possess a large yolk sac that is absorbed approximately four days after hatching, which corresponds with the development of mouth parts. The pectoral and caudal fin buds are visible on hatching, followed by the development of the dorsal, anal, and pelvic fins. The air bladder is formed after approximately one week of development. Growth is rapid in the first two months, and slows considerably afterwards. (Moore, 1944; Reed, 1958)


Sexual dimorphism occurs within pugnose shiners. In males the pelvic fin extends beyond the anal opening, while in females it does not. Both males and females have multiple mates. (Becker, 1983)

Pugnose shiners spawn in densely vegetated shallow water with a maximum depth of 2m. Spawning generally occurs when the water temperature is between 21°C to 29°C. (Bouvier, et al., 2010)

  • Breeding interval
    Breeding interval in pugnose shiners is not known.
  • Breeding season
    Spawning and fertilization occurs in the summer.
  • Range number of offspring
    530 to 1275
  • Range time to hatching
    1 to 3 days
  • Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    1 to 2 years
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    1 years
  • Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
    1 to 2 years
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
    1 years

Pugnose shiners do not build nests for spawning. They instead scatter eggs randomly and do not defend them after spawning. (Stewart and Watkinson, 2004)

  • Parental Investment
  • pre-fertilization
    • provisioning
    • protecting
      • female


Very little information is known the longevity of this species or any other species within the genus Notropis. The oldest known pugnose shiner caught was 3 years old, which corresponds with the maximum age indicated for the Arkansas River shiner, N. girardi. (Bouvier, et al., 2010; Moore, 1944; Stewart and Watkinson, 2004)


Pugnose shiners are known to feed, travel, and spawn in schools. Very little information is known about their behavior because of the rarity of this species. (Becker, 1983)

Home Range

No information is available regarding territoriality or home range in pugnose shiners.

Communication and Perception

There is no known specific information about pugnose shiner communication abilities and environmental perception. However, as a member of the superorder Ostariophysi, their first four vertebrae are modified to form a Weberian apparatus, which connects the swim bladder with the auditory system, and enhances the ability to detect auditory stimuli. As a member of the genus Notropis, pugnose shiners also possess (as do many other members of the Ostariophysi) an alarm substance called "Shreckstoff" that is released when an individual is injured, and can act as a warning signal to other pugnose shiners (or other closely related species) in the area. There is evidence, however that the alarm substance of Ostariophysan fishes may also attract additional predators to the area where it is released. (Nelson, 2006; Smith, 1992)

Food Habits

Pugnose shiners are omnivorous. They consume various animal and plant products up to 2 mm in size. Examples of food items include: Chara vulgaris, Daphnia ambigua, Bosmina longirostris, and Hirudo medicinalis. ("COSEWIC assessment and update status report on the pugnose shiner in Canada.", 2002)

  • Animal Foods
  • eggs
  • insects
  • terrestrial worms
  • Plant Foods
  • algae


Pugnose shiner predators include larger fishes. (Bouvier, et al., 2010)

Ecosystem Roles

Little information is known about pugnose shiners and the ecological roles associated with the species. They are low to middle level consumers and "the rarity of the species probably limits its significance in nutrient transfer in its community". It is also important to point out the damage two invasive species have caused. Cyprinus carpio (common carp) and Myriphyllum spicatum (Eurasian water milfoil) are considered greater threats to pugnose shiners than predation itself. These two species cause loss of biodiversity within the ecosystems pugnose shiners inhabit and outcompete them for resources. (Stewart and Watkinson, 2004)

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Pugnose shiners are too rare to have any direct economic impact, but they are a good indicator species for the overall health of the ecosystem. (Stewart and Watkinson, 2004)

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

There are no known adverse effects of pugnose shiners on humans.

Conservation Status

This species is rare throughout its range, and has been identified as threatened, endangered, or of special concern in nearly all of the states where it occurs (Ohio is the exception), as well as in Canada. They are listed as "Near Threatened" by the IUCN Red List.


Lindsay Wright (author), Minnesota State University, Mankato, Jeremy Wright (author, editor), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Robert Sorensen (editor), Minnesota State University, Mankato, Catherine Kent (editor), Special Projects.



living in the Nearctic biogeographic province, the northern part of the New World. This includes Greenland, the Canadian Arctic islands, and all of the North American as far south as the highlands of central Mexico.

World Map


uses sound to communicate

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.


an animal that mainly eats meat


uses smells or other chemicals to communicate


an animal that mainly eats decomposed plants and/or animals


humans benefit economically by promoting tourism that focuses on the appreciation of natural areas or animals. Ecotourism implies that there are existing programs that profit from the appreciation of natural areas or animals.


animals which must use heat acquired from the environment and behavioral adaptations to regulate body temperature

external fertilization

fertilization takes place outside the female's body


union of egg and spermatozoan


mainly lives in water that is not salty.


An animal that eats mainly plants or parts of plants.


An animal that eats mainly insects or spiders.


having the capacity to move from one place to another.


specialized for swimming

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.


an animal that mainly eats all kinds of things, including plants and animals


reproduction in which eggs are released by the female; development of offspring occurs outside the mother's body.


the kind of polygamy in which a female pairs with several males, each of which also pairs with several different females.

seasonal breeding

breeding is confined to a particular season


offspring are all produced in a single group (litter, clutch, etc.), after which the parent usually dies. Semelparous organisms often only live through a single season/year (or other periodic change in conditions) but may live for many seasons. In both cases reproduction occurs as a single investment of energy in offspring, with no future chance for investment in reproduction.


reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female


uses touch to communicate


that region of the Earth between 23.5 degrees North and 60 degrees North (between the Tropic of Cancer and the Arctic Circle) and between 23.5 degrees South and 60 degrees South (between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic Circle).


movements of a hard surface that are produced by animals as signals to others


uses sight to communicate


2002. "COSEWIC assessment and update status report on the pugnose shiner in Canada." (On-line). Accessed April 14, 2011 at

2003. "Development and Growth in fish" (On-line). Accessed May 02, 2011 at

2006. "Rare species explorer-Notropis anogenus" (On-line). Michigan natural features inventory. Accessed April 14, 2011 at

Becker, G. 1983. Fishes of Wisconsin. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press.

Bouvier, L., A. Boyko, N. Mandarak. 2010. Information in support of a recovery potential assessment of Pugnose shiner in Canada. Fisheries and Oceans-Canada, 23: 23. Accessed May 02, 2011 at

Derosier, A. 2004. "Special Animal Abstract for Nortopis anogenus (pugnose shiner)." (On-line). Michigan Natural Features. Accessed April 20, 2011 at

Moore, G. 1944. Notes on the early life history of Notropis girardi. Copeia, 1944: 209-214.

Nelson, J. 2006. Fishes of the World, 4th Edition. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley and Sons, Inc..

Page, L., B. Burr. 2011. Peterson Field Guide to Freshwater Fishes of North America North of Mexico, 2nd Edition. New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Reed, R. 1958. The early life history of two cyprinids, Notropis rubellus> and <<Campostoma anomalum pullum. Copeia, 1958: 325-327.

Smith, R. 1992. Alarm signals in fishes. Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries, 2: 33-63.

Stewart, K., D. Watkinson. 2004. The Freshwater Fishes of Manitoba. Winnipeg: Univeristy of Manitoba Press. Accessed May 02, 2011 at