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

General Description [-]
Swallowtail shiners are pale olive to straw-yellow with a well-developed midlateral stripe. The midlateral stripe is interrupted on the side of the head behind the eye and there is a preorbital blotch between the eye and the snout.

Identifying Characteristics [-]
Swallowtail shiners are straw-yellow to silver that reach 46 to 78 mm (1.5 to 3 in) with an elongate body. The profile is equally curved. The mouth is subterminal. Scales of the middorsal region have a dark outline. There is a pale stripe above the dark midlateral stripe. Fish have a dark lateral line that is interrupted behind the eye and extends to the snout, but does not encircle the snout. There are dark spots above and below each pore in the anterior portion of the lateral line. The caudal fin is moderately forked with bluntly pointed lobes. There is a black spot at the base of the caudal rays. The breast and prepectoral area are usually unscaled. There are seven anal rays. The peritoneum is pale. Tooth count is 4-4. Males have longer pectoral and pelvic rays. Pectoral rays are thickened and bowed outward in breeding males. Both sexes have breeding tubercles, but they are larger in males. Tubercles are found on the top, side, and underside of the head, on the body scales, the dorsal and anal fins, and the tops of paired fins (Smith 1985).

Best Life Stage for Proper Identification [-]
Adults are the easier life stage to identify.

Behavior [-]
This species matures after one year. Males guard a territory of 4 to 18 inches.

Diet [-]
Swallowtail shiners consume insects, worms, mites, micro crustaceans, and algae.
Swallowtail Shiner Images
click to enlarge
The Best Time to See
Fish are typically found in schools near the bottom. They can be found in spawning habitat from late May through early July (Smith 1985).
Active Reproducing
The time of year you would expect to find Swallowtail Shiner active (blue shading) and reproducing (orange shading) in New York.
Similar Species
  • Sand Shiner (Notropis stramineus)
    Swallowtail shiners have a longer snout, more subterminal mouth, and a blacker caudal wedge. Sand shiner lacks a complete midlateral stripe.