New York Natural Heritage Program
Blackchin Shiner
Notropis heterodon (Cope, 1865)
Ray-finned Fishes

Identifying Characteristics [-]
The blackchin shiner is a small minnow, typically five to seven cm in length. A black mid-lateral stripe runs across the body from the base of the tail, through the large eye, to the tip of the pointy snout, lower jaw, and chin. The pores of the lateral line are black, giving the dark line a zigzag pattern. A yellowish stripe runs above the dark stripe. Above the stripe, the body is brown-olive; below the stripe, the belly is pale yellow-white with a few dark speckles. The base of the anal fin is dark and has eight rays. The scales on the back are edged in black. The rays of the fins and forked tail are dark. There is one dorsal fin which is angled posteriorly. The pharyngeal teeth arrangement is 1,4-4,1 (two rows of teeth, four teeth in the inner row and one tooth in the outer row). Males during breeding season become golden yellow and develop tubercles on the top of the head and pectoral fins (Scott and Crossman 1973; Smith 1985; Page and Burr 1991).

Characters Most Useful for Identification [-]
The zigzag pattern of the mid-lateral stripe, the stripe extending to the lips and chin, and the pharyngeal teeth arrangement are useful characteristics in distinguishing blackchin shiners from other shiners (Smith 1985; Page and Burr 1991).

Best Life Stage for Proper Identification [-]
Adults exhibit the characters useful in identifying this species properly.

Behavior [-]
Little is known about the life history and behavior of the blackchin shiner other than spawning times are between May and July (Scott and Crossman 1973; Smith 1985).

Diet [-]
Blackchin shiners feed on small crustaceans in the water column and small flying insects at the water's surface (Scott and Crossman 1973; Smith 1985).
Blackchin Shiner Images
click to enlarge
The Best Time to See
Blackchin shiners are present year-round and are spawning from May to the end of July (Scott and Crossman 1973; Smith 1985).
J F M A M J J A S O N D
Active Reproducing
The time of year you would expect to find Blackchin Shiner active (blue shading) and reproducing (orange shading) in New York.
Similar Species
  • Ironcolor Shiner (Notropis chalybaeus)
    The mid-lateral line on the ironcolor shiner does not extend to the chin. The inside of the mouth is dark (Smith 1985; Page and Burr 1991).
  • Bridle Shiner (Notropis bifrenatus)
    The bridle shiner has a larger eye than the blackchin shiner, seven rays in the anal fin, and a 4,4 pharyngeal tooth arrangement (Smith 1985; Page and Burr 1991).
  • Pugnose Shiner (Notropis anogenus)
    The pugnose shiner has a tiney and almost vertically-oriented mouth and more rounded snout (Smith 1985; Page and Burr 1991).