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Pugnose shiner

Notropis anogenus

What do they look like?

Pugnose shiners have a very small mouth that is angled up sharply. Their scales are silvery, and their bodies have a dark stripe on each side stretching from their nose all the way to their tail fin. Their bellies are yellowish and they have a thin, dark line along their back. Their tail fins are clear. (Page and Burr, 2011)

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

Where do they live?

Pugnose shiners live in the Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins from eastern Ontario and western New York to southeastern North Dakota. They used to live as far as central Illinois, but aren't found there anymore. ("COSEWIC assessment and update status report on the pugnose shiner in Canada.", 2002; Derosier, 2004; Page and Burr, 2011)

What kind of habitat do they need?

Pugnose shiners live in lakes and pools with clear water that have lots of plants. They are also found in clear streams and rivers with slow-moving water. They don't like water that is cloudy with sand or sediment. (Derosier, 2004)

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

How do they grow?

Scientists don't know much about how pugnose shiners develop. Eggs in other shiner species usually hatch 1 or 2 days after they are fertilized. The young grow quickly in the first 2 months. (Moore, 1944; Reed, 1958)

How do they reproduce?

Males pugnose shiners have a longer pelvic fin than females, but otherwise males and females look the same. Both males and females have multiple mates. (Becker, 1983)

Pugnose shiners scatter their eggs in shallow water less than 2 m deep that has lots of plants in it. They usually lay their eggs in places where the water temperature is 21°C to 29°C. (Bouvier, et al., 2010)

  • How often does reproduction occur?
    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 scatter their eggs randomly. They don't invest time or energy into their offspring after they release and fertilize the eggs. (Stewart and Watkinson, 2004)

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

How long do they live?

Scientists don't know the lifespan of pugnose shiners, but their relatives can live up to 3 years. (Bouvier, et al., 2010; Moore, 1944; Stewart and Watkinson, 2004)

How do they behave?

Pugnose shiners eat, travel, and scatter their eggs in groups, or schools. They are very rare, so scientists don't know much about their behavior. (Becker, 1983)

Home Range

Scientists don't know the size of the home range of pugnose shiners.

How do they communicate with each other?

Like many of their relatives, pugnose shiners have a "Weberian apparatus" that allows them to hear vibrations in the water. They hear the vibrations using their swim bladder, which is normally just used to keep the fish floating. Pugnose shiners give off a warning signal when they are hurt, which other pugnose shiners can understand. (Nelson, 2006; Smith, 1992)

What do they eat?

Pugnose shiners eat plants and animals less than 2 mm in size. They eat algae like common stonewort, water fleas, other water fleas, and small leeches. ("COSEWIC assessment and update status report on the pugnose shiner in Canada.", 2002)

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

What eats them and how do they avoid being eaten?

Pugnose shiners are eaten by larger fishes. (Bouvier, et al., 2010)

What roles do they have in the ecosystem?

There isn't much information about the ecological roles of pugnose shiners. They are eaten by larger fish and eat very small algae and invertebrates. They compete for resources with invasive fish and plants, mostly common carp and Eurasian water milfoil. (Stewart and Watkinson, 2004)

Do they cause problems?

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

How do they interact with us?

Pugnose shiners are sensitive to changes in their environment, so they are can be used by conservationists to tell if an ecosystem is healthy. (Stewart and Watkinson, 2004)

  • Ways that people benefit from these animals:
  • ecotourism

Are they endangered?

Pugnose shiners are rare and are considered threatened, endangered, or of special concern in nearly all of the states where they live and also in Canada. They are "Near Threatened," according to the IUCN Red List. They are endangered in Michigan. Pugnose shiners are threatened by competition with invasive species, mostly common carp and Eurasian water milfoil.


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.


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

University of Michigan Museum of ZoologyNational Science Foundation

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Wright, L. and J. Wright 2012. "Notropis anogenus" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed May 28, 2024 at

BioKIDS is sponsored in part by the Interagency Education Research Initiative. It is a partnership of the University of Michigan School of Education, University of Michigan Museum of Zoology, and the Detroit Public Schools. This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant DRL-0628151.
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