Notropis spilopterus
Spotfin Shiner

Spotfin Shiner

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The natural history of the northwoods



  • Notropis, from the Greek, "back keel"
  • spilopterus, from the Greek, "spotfin"
  • Common name from the prominent black blotch in the last few rays of the dorsal fin
  • Other common names include: Blue Minnow, Lemonfin Minnow, Satin-finned Minnow, Silverfin Minnow, Steel Colored 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
  • Also known as Cyprinella spiloptera (Cope, 1868)


  • A
  • Length to 3"
  • Weight
  • Coloration
    • steel blue back and sides overlaid with silver shading and dark scale pockets that form a diamond design
    • prominent black blotch in the last few rays of the dorsal fin
    • anal fin of breeding males is often bright yellow, and the back is pigmented with olive green, shading to purple and blue.
    • prominent black blotch in last few rays of dorsal fin
  • Body
    • moderately slender, slab-sided form
    • dorsal, anal, and pelvic fins of 8 rays
    • pectoral fins of 13-15 rays
  • Head
    • mouth sub-terminal, oblique
    • barbel lacking
    • pharyngeal teeth strongly hooked, on sturdy arches in a l, 4-4, 1 pattern.
    • lateral line complete with 36-38 scales and slightly de-curved.



  • Not known from the Rainy River or Superior drainages in Minnesota.


  • Lakes and small to moderately large creeks.
  • Quite tolerant of silty and turbid conditions.
  • Swift flowing waters over shallow sand flats.


  • Insects, vegetable material, and some small fish. Especially fond of flies and mosquitos.
  • Feeds near bottom during the day; nearer the surface at dawn and dusk when the feeding is most intense.



  • Said to be an excellent aquarium fish.
  • Considered a good bait minnow because of its brilliant colors.


  • Spawns through the summer (May-August) over irregular surfaces where eggs can be deposited into small crevices in rocks and logs.
  • Males establish territories of one or more crevices (as short as 3/4" though usually longer) which they defend against other males.
  • Fractional spawners, spawning at intervals of 1-7 days; most commonly 5. Up to three groups of eggs may be released during one spawning session.
  • Adults sometimes feed on eggs flushed from the crevices before they become attached to its walls.



Boreal border

Last updated on 6 November 1999