Pugnose Shiner Fact Sheet
New York Status: Endangered
The pugnose shiner is a small minnow that rarely exceeds two inches in length. It has a light, straw-colored back, silvery sides, and a white belly. Its most distinctive feature is its small mouth that is so sharply upturned it is nearly vertical. A black stripe runs along the fish's sides from the tip of the lower jaw to the caudal (tail) fin. The scales on the back are darkly outlined.
Other than the fact that the pugnose shiner spawns during the spring, little is known about the life cycle or feeding habits of this small minnow.
Distribution and Habitat
The pugnose shiner prefers clear, slow water areas of large streams and lakes with plenty of vegetation. It is restricted in range to the Great Lakes Drainage basin and has been captured in New York, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, and Canada. In New York State, this rare minnow has been found in Cayuga Lake, Montezuma, Irondequoit Bay, Little Sodus Bay, French Creek (Jefferson County), Sodus Bay, and the St. Lawrence River (near Alexandria Bay). Currently, it inhabits the last two areas.
The pugnose shiner is one of the rarest minnows in North America. Populations of this fish have been reduced or extirpated in the United States, and in Canada its range is diminishing. The primary cause for the loss in pugnose shiner populations is thought to be increased turbidity.
The Department of Environmental Conservation's goal is to maintain self-sustaining populations of the pugnose shiner.