Most Topeka shiners have orangish heads and reddish-orange fins. Their bodies are silver with a dark grey-blue or black line along the middle of their body. Topeka shiners are usually around 34.6 mm long when they are 12 months old, 42.5 mm long when they are 24 months old, and 53.2 cm long when they are 36 months old. Males grow faster than females and are quite a bit bigger by the time they are adults. When males are 3 years old they are about 69 mm long, and females that are 3 years old are around 47 mm long. (Hatch, 2002; Minckley and Cross, 1959; Pflieger, 1971)
Topeka shiners live in streams in the central prairies of the United States. Today, they are found in only 20% of the area of streams they used to live in. Their numbers are declining in Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, and Iowa, which are most of the states where they live. They are also found in South Dakota and Minnesota. (Hatch, 2002)
Topeka shiners live in ponds or parts of streams that dry up a little bit with the weather. They prefer cool, clear ponds with lots of plants and soft, muddy bottoms. The streams they live in usually flow about 1.5 m^3 per second and have mostly gravel bottoms. They rarely live in places where the plants have roots, or ones that stop flowing for part of the year. In Missouri, they are now only found in streams that flow into the Missouri River where silt and sediments don't build up. Farther north and west, they live in water that does have silt or sediment on the bottom. Either way, they like to stay in calmer pools or edges of the stream instead of the the parts with the strongest current. They live in southwestern Minnesota in waters that drain into the Missouri River. (Dahle, 2001; Evermann and Cox, 1896; Hatch, 2002; Michl and Peters, 1993; Minckley and Cross, 1959; Pflieger, 1971)
Wild Topeka shiners scatter and fertilize their eggs when the water gets to be 22°C. This is called spawning. In captivity, they start spawning at 21.1°C to 25.6°C. The eggs hatch after 5 days, and the newly hatched fish start eating brine shrimp larvae and other foods. (Katula, 1998)
Topeka shiners spawn from late May through July in Kansas and Missouri. Farther north, they spawn from early June to mid-August. They spawn when the water temperature gets to 22°C. Topeka shiners spawn in pools over gravel and rubble substrates alongside green sunfish and orangespotted sunfish. Topeka shiners have small territories they defend. Their territories are usually smaller than 0.25 sq m, and located close to the nests of sunfish. Males defend their nests and only allow very persistent females to lay eggs in their nests. (Dahle, 2001; Hatch, 2001; Katula, 1998; Kerns, 1983; Pflieger, 1971)
Male and female Topeka shiners are mature by the time they are 12 to 14 months old. Whether they are mature or not depends more on their size than it does on their age. Females can release eggs when they are 37 mm long, and males can fertilize eggs when they are 47 mm long. Topeka shiners spawn more than once in each season so they can lay more eggs in a year without having to make their eggs smaller. Topeka shiners lay 453 eggs on average. They live about 3 years, though 90% of them die within the first year. (Cross, 1967; Dahle, 2001; Hatch, 2001; Hatch, 2002; Heins, 1990; Kerns, 1983; Pflieger, 1971)
Topeka shiners don't invest time or energy into caring for their young after they scatter and fertilize their eggs.
Topeka shiners are active during the day. They are very territorial.
Scientists don't know the average home range size of Topeka shiners.
Like all fish, Topeka shiners 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 Topeka shiners communicate or understand their environment.
Topeka shiners are thought to eat mostly insects, but this is based mostly on people's observations. Topeka shiners eat insects from the bottom of the river or stream, but also eat some plants. Topeka shiners eat many kinds of microcrustaceans, animals without backbones, larvae of other fish, and larvae of insects that live in the water. They also eat algae, plant parts that surround the seeds, and bits of dead animals and plants called detritus. (Churchill and Over, 1933; Cross and Collins, 1995; Dahle, 2001; Hatch, 2002; Pflieger, 1971)
Topeka shiners help limit the number of insects by eating their larvae that live in the water. Because they eat dead bits of plants and animals, they break down nutrients that are then used by other organisms in the environment. Topeka shiners are probably important prey for nearby fish-eating fish. (Berry Jr., et al., 2004)
There are no known adverse effects of Notropis topeka on humans.
Topeka shiners are sometimes eaten by fish that are stocked in a river for humans to catch. (Berry Jr., et al., 2004)
Topeka shiners were listed as endangered by the US Fish and Wildlife Service in 1999, when the number of them declined by 80%. They are listed as "Near Threatened" by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. They are affected by disruption of their habitat, including increased amounts of silt and sediment, digging channels through rivers, and too much fertilizer in the water. Part of this comes from all of the farming on the prairies. Farming also impacts water levels, decreases the amount of plants in the water, increases temperatures, and makes the water more cloudy. Topeka shiners are eaten by fish that are stocked in rivers for humans to catch. Their numbers in South Dakota and southwestern Minnesota are strong. Making maps of where they are likely to live in the future would help protect them. (Berry Jr., et al., 2004; Dahle, 2001; Hatch, 2002)
Jessica Sellner (author), Minnesota State University, Mankato, Robert Sorensen (editor), Minnesota State University, Mankato, John Berini (editor), Animal Diversity Web Staff, 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.
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.
helps break down and decompose dead plants and/or animals
uses smells or other chemicals to communicate
particles of organic material from dead and decomposing organisms. Detritus is the result of the activity of decomposers (organisms that decompose organic material).
animals which must use heat acquired from the environment and behavioral adaptations to regulate body temperature
union of egg and spermatozoan
A substance that provides both nutrients and energy to a living thing.
mainly lives in water that is not salty.
animals that have little or no ability to regulate their body temperature, body temperatures fluctuate with the temperature of their environment, often referred to as 'cold-blooded'.
having the capacity to move from one place to another.
specialized for swimming
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.
having more than one female as a mate at one time
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).
defends an area within the home range, occupied by a single animals or group of animals of the same species and held through overt defense, display, or advertisement
Berry Jr., C., C. Blausey, J. Jenks, C. Kopplin, S. Wall. 2004. Fish-habitat modeling for gap analysis to conserve the endangered Topeka shiner (Notropis topeka). Canadian Journal of Fisheries & Aquatic Sciences, 61(6): 954-973.
Churchill, E., W. Over. 1933. Fishes of South Dakota. The South Dakota Department of Fish and Game: 87pp.
Cross, F. 1967. Handbook of fishes of Kansas. Miscellaneous Publications of the Museum of Natural History, University of Kansas, 45: 1-357.
Cross, F., J. Collins. 1995. Fishes in Kansas. University of Kansas Natural History Museum, Educational Series, 3: 315pp.
Dahle, S. 2001. Studies of Topeka shiner (Notropis topeka) life history and distribution in Minnesota. M. S. Thesis, University of Minnesota, St. Paul.
Elsen, D. 1977. Distribution of fishes in the James River in North Dakota and South Dakota prior to Garrison and Oahe Diversion Projects. M. S. Thesis, University of North Dakota, Grand Forks: 86pp.
Evermann, B., U. Cox. 1896. A report upon the fishes of the Missouri River basin. Report of United States Commision of Fish and Fisheries, 1894: 325-429.
Hatch, J. 2002. Topeka shiner (Notropis topeka). Fishes of Minnesota.
Hatch, J. 2001. What we know about Minnesota's first endangered fish species: the Topeka shiner. Journal of the Minnesota Academy of Science, 65(1): 39-46.
Heins, D. 1990. Field evidence for multiple clutches in the longnose shiner. Copeia, 1990: 579-582.
Katula, R. 1998. Eureka Topeka! (Shiners, that is). Tropical Fish Hobbyist.
Kerns, H. 1983. Aspects of the life history of the Topeka shiner, Notropis topeka (Gilbert), in Kansas. unpublished manuscript.
Michl, G., E. Peters. 1993. New distribution record of the Topeka shiner in Loup Drainage basin in Nebraska. Prairie Naturalist, 25: 51-54.
Minckley, W., F. Cross. 1959. Distribution, habitat, and abundance of the Topeka shiner Notropis topeka (Gilbert) in Kansas. American Midland Naturalist, 61: 210-217.
Pflieger, W. 1971. A distributional study of Missouri fishes. Museum of Natural History, 20: 225-570.
Robins, C. 1991. Common and scientific names of fishes from the United States and Canada. Am. Fish. Soc. Spec. Pub., 20: 183.