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Ozark minnow

Notropis nubilus

What do they look like?

Ozark minnows are small, slender minnows. They are dark yellow-olive on their backs and upper sides and their scales have dark edges. Their lower sides are silvery and they have a dark stripe along the middle of their body from their head to their middle fins. The stripe has golden spots on top of it that are visible when the fish is underwater. Their noses are flat, and they have large eyes. Ozark minnows are 2.2 to 4 inches long. ("Endangered Resources Program Species Information", 2011; "mdconline Missouri Department of Conservation", 2012; Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, 2012; "ARKive Images of Life on Earth", 2012)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • sexes alike
  • Range length
    56 to 92 mm
    2.20 to 3.62 in

Where do they live?

Ozark minnows live in the central highlands of the United States. Most of them live in the Ozark Plateaus of Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Kansas. Due to farming, they are much less common around the Mississippi River in Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin. They also live in northern Wisconsin in and around the Red Cedar River, and in southern Wisconsin in rivers that drain into the Mississippi River. They are also found in the the Zumbro, Root, and Cedar Rivers in southeastern Minnesota. Finally, Ozark minnows live in northern and central Arkansas, Missouri, and northeastern Oklahoma. (Berendzen, et al., 2010; Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, 2012; "ARKive Images of Life on Earth", 2012)

What kind of habitat do they need?

Ozark minnows prefer to live in clear streams that are small or medium in size. They like streams with slow currents and not many plants. They live in calm, protected waters, or in pools that have slow currents and gravel bottoms. Ozark minnows gather together is groups, or schools, near the bottom of streams. They most often live in shallow water less than 8 inches deep. ("Endangered Resources Program Species Information", 2011; "mdconline Missouri Department of Conservation", 2012)

  • Aquatic Biomes
  • benthic
  • rivers and streams

How do they grow?

Ozark minnows reproduce when the water is 17 to 18 degrees Celsius. They usually release their eggs in shallow water that is 1 to 20 cm deep on top of gravel. Females release eggs into hollows in the gravel, and release their eggs at any time of day. Ozark minnow eggs are 2.1 mm in diameter on average. ("Endangered Resources Program Species Information", 2011; Berendzen, et al., 2010; Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, 2012; "ARKive Images of Life on Earth", 2012)

How do they reproduce?

Ozark minnows go to a spot where they will release their eggs and wait a few seconds until 10 to 20 more fish arrive. The fish all start vibrating together against the bottom of the stream and each other. After one minute, all of the fish swim away. (Fowler, et al., 1984)

Ozark minnows breed from May to early August, when the water warms up to be 17 to 18 degrees Celsius. Breeding Ozark minnows are often yellowish-orange on the bellies and fins. Males are more brightly colored than females during the breeding season. Males sometimes get obvious warts on their heads and fins during the breeding season, too. Ozark minnows release their eggs at any time during the day. They vibrate together in a group to release eggs and reproductive cells. They lay their eggs in nests made by hornyhead chubs. They also mate with other kinds of shiners. The eggs average at 2.1 mm in diameter. Young Ozark minnows reproduce for the first time when they are 2 years old. ("Endangered Resources Program Species Information", 2011; Fowler, et al., 1984; Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, 2012; "ARKive Images of Life on Earth", 2012)

  • How often does reproduction occur?
    Ozark minnows breed in spring after water temperatures reach 17 degrees Celsius.
  • Breeding season
    Spawning occurs from May through early August.
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    2 years
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
    2 years

Female Ozark minnows lay eggs and males fertilize them. Afterwards, neither parent invests time or effort into caring for the young. (Fowler, et al., 1984)

How long do they live?

The lifespan of Ozark minnows is 2 to 4 years. ("mdconline Missouri Department of Conservation", 2012)

How do they behave?

Ozark minnows often gather near stream bottoms in groups called schools. They form big schools with other common minnows like bleeding shiners, cardinal shiners and duskystripe shiners. (Berendzen, et al., 2010; Gelwick, et al., 1997)

Home Range

Scientists don't know the size of the home range of Ozark minnows, but the home range of similar species ranges from 3,264 sq m to 19,525 sq m. Other eastern shiners can travel from one side of a lake to the other within the span of 24 hours. (Valley, et al., 2010)

How do they communicate with each other?

Like all fish, Ozark minnows have a lateral line running from their head to tail that helps them pick up on changes in pressure and temperature in the water. Scientists don't know much about how Ozark minnows communicate or understand their environment.

What do they eat?

Ozark minnows eat mainly green algae, blue-green algae, and diatoms. They are omnivores that eat mostly plants and some animals. They might eat small insect larvae and crustaceans. ("Endangered Resources Program Species Information", 2011; "mdconline Missouri Department of Conservation", 2012; "ARKive Images of Life on Earth", 2012)

  • Animal Foods
  • mammals
  • insects
  • Plant Foods
  • algae

What eats them and how do they avoid being eaten?

Scientists don't know exactly what animals eat Ozark minnows, but similar fish are eaten by largemouth bass. (Valley, et al., 2010)

What roles do they have in the ecosystem?

Ozark minnows are both predators and prey. They are not known to become infected with parasites.

Do they cause problems?

There are no known negative economic impacts on Ozark minnows.

How do they interact with us?

Ozark minnows have no known positive impacts on humans.

Are they endangered?

Ozark minnows are not considered endangered by any special lists, but they are vulnerable. They can't live in water with very strong currents or sediments, so they are threatened by farming. Many of them live far apart from each other, so natural disasters or disease could wipe them out in a particular spot. Protecting and restoring their habitat, more research, and controlling runoff would help conserve them. ("Endangered Resources Program Species Information", 2011; Berendzen, et al., 2010; "ARKive Images of Life on Earth", 2012)

Some more information...

Ozark minnow fossils were found in southwestern Kansas from the late Illinoian glacial stage. Ozark minnows have probably been in the central highlands of the United States for 100 years and were brought by movements of the glaciers. ("Endangered Resources Program Species Information", 2011; Berendzen, et al., 2010; "ARKive Images of Life on Earth", 2012)

Contributors

Katy Bromeland (author), Minnesota State University, Mankato, Robert Sorensen (editor), Minnesota State University, Mankato, Catherine Kent (editor), Special Projects.

References

Wildscreen 2003-2012. 2012. "ARKive Images of Life on Earth" (On-line). Accessed March 13, 2012 at http://www.arkive.org/ozark-minnow/notropis-nubilus/.

2011. "Endangered Resources Program Species Information" (On-line). Accessed March 13, 2012 at http://dnr.wi.gov/org/land/er/biodiversity/index.asp?mode=info&Grp=13&SpecCode=AFCJB28680.

2012 Conservation Commission of Missouri. 2012. "mdconline Missouri Department of Conservation" (On-line). Accessed March 13, 2012 at http://mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/field-guide/ozark-minnow.

Berendzen, P., J. Dugan, T. Gamble. 2010. Post-glacial expansion into the Paleozoic Plateau: evidence of an Ozakian refugium for the Ozark minnow Notropis nubilus (Teleostei: Cypriniformes).. Journal of Fish Biology, Volume 77: 1114-1136. Accessed February 08, 2012 at http://web.ebscohost.com/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=2&hid=112&sid=780df894-6f9b-4e95-8497-1d46510e31bf%40sessionmgr115.

Fowler, J., P. James, C. Taber. 1984. Spawning Activity and Eggs of the Ozark Minnow, Notropis nubilus. Copeia, Volume 4: 994-996. Accessed February 08, 2012 at http://www.jstor.org/stable/1445348?seq=2&Search=yes&searchText=nubilus&searchText=Notropis&list=hide&searchUri=%2Faction%2FdoBasicSearch%3FQuery%3DNotropis%2Bnubilus%26acc%3Don%26wc%3Don&prevSearch=&item=3&ttl=53&returnArticleService=showFullText&resultsServiceName=null.

Gelwick, F., M. Stock, W. Matthews. 1997. Effects of fish, water depth, and predation risk on patch dynamics in a north-temperate river ecosystem. Oikos, Volume 80:2: 382-398. Accessed February 08, 2012 at http://www.jstor.org/stable/3546606.

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, 2012. "Minnesota Department of Natural Resources" (On-line). Accessed February 08, 2012 at http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/rsg/profile.html?action=elementDetail&selectedElement=AFCJB28680.

USGS, 2009. "USGS NAS-Nonindigenous Aquatic Species" (On-line). Accessed February 08, 2012 at http://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/FactSheet.aspx?speciesID=603.

Valley, R., M. Habrat, E. Dibble, M. Drake. 2010. Movement patterns and habitat use of three declining littoral fish species in a north-temperate mesotrophic lake. Hydrobiologia, 644: 385-399.

 
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Bromeland, K. 2013. "Notropis nubilus" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed October 26, 2014 at http://www.biokids.umich.edu/accounts/Notropis_nubilus/

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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