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Similarities And Differences Among Some Common Minnows Of New York

Similiarities and differences among New York's minnow species
Species Description Habitat Reproduction Feeding Comments/ Fishing Information
Fallfish 12-17" long

Smaller fish are bright silver; larger fish are dull silver
Clear streams and lakes and ponds

Young prefer riffles, adults pools

Does not tolerate muddy water
Spawns in groups in late spring (April-June)

Males build nests with stream gravel. Round nest can be 4' wide & 1.5' high

After spawning, females float belly-up then recover and spawn again

Males develop pink tint to the head
Eats insects, small fish crayfish & plant materials Largest native minnow in NY (carp are the largest exotic minnow in the state)

Found in waters scattered across the state, except on Long Island & the Black River Basin, Also rarely found west of the Genesee River

Frequently taken by trout anglers when fly-fishing. Although edible - are rarely eaten
Creek Chub 6-12" long

Somewhat cigar-shaped body is dark with a purple sheen on the sides

Dark spot at base of dorsal fin
Found in all but the fastest moving waters of streams

Rarely inhabits lakes
Spawns in spring (May)

Male build nests in gravel by digging small pits. Several females deposit eggs in nest

After spawning, females float belly-up then recover and spawn again

Males develop pink color
Eats insects, fish, crayfish and plant materials Found across the state except on Long Island

Sometimes heavily covered with the parasite that causes black spot disease - resulting in the fish looking like it was sprinkled with black sand

Readily takes a baited hook. Rarely eaten, Also uses as bait
Golden Shiner 5-10" long

Body deep & compressed

Lateral line noticeably dips down in the middle of the body

Golden or grassy colored with red fins
Generally a lake species, but found anywhere there is quiet, weedy, clean, shallow water Spawns in late spring/mid summer (May-July)

Scatters adhesive eggs over algae and other aquatic vegetation
Eats insects, small fish & algae

Feeds in midwater and at the surface
One of the most widespread fish in New York

Extremely popular baitfish, is raised by pond culture for the bait industry

Occasionally caught & eaten by anglers
Blacknose Dace 2-3" long

Upper part of body is dark with speckles; lower part of body is light with fewer speckles
Found in clear streams with current

Avoids stillwater & fast currents
Spawns in late spring (May-June)

Males establish territories over gravel in shallow riffles

Males develop green tint and red fins
Eats aquatic insect larvae, algae and fish eggs Found across the state except on Long Island

used as bait fish in some areas
Longnose Dace 3-5" long

Shark-like in appearance: prominent snout & underslung mouth

Olive to brown on back shading to cream on belly
Only found in riffle areas of streams Spawns in late spring (May-June) in shallow riffles over a gravel bottom

Males guard territories
Bottom feeder, eats fish eggs & insects (especially black fly larvae) Bottom dwelling fish

Found across the state except on Long Island

Occasionally used as baitfish
Central Stoneroller 4-6" long

Dull gray with a brassy tint

Lips are light-colored with a prominent ridge on lower lip
Found in streams in riffles and pools with a current

Requires clean water
Spawns in spring (April-May)

Males build communal nests in gravel areas at the top of riffles. Use their mouths to move or push pebbles

Males develop orange tint
Uses ridge on lower jaw to scrape algae & other tiny organisms off rocks to eat Found in the Mohawk River drainage west to the Great Lakes & from the western side of the Catskills across the Southern Tier to Lake Erie

Other than use as an environmental indicator, has little interaction with people
Cutlips Minnow 3-5" long

Stubby body shape

Slate gray in color

Lower jaw has 3 lobes
Found in pools in streams where there is clean gravel & cobble

Stays on the bottom among the stones
Spawns in late spring (May-June)

Males build nests by dropping pebbles into a round pile

Several females deposit eggs in one nest. Nests are abandoned after spawning
Eats mainly aquatic insects & mollusks

Has unusual habit of feeding on the eyes of other fish
Rarely found west of Genesee River or on Long Island

Habitat destruction due to siltration & excessive plant growth is the greatest threat to this fish

Occasionally used as bait
Redside Dace 3-4" long

Back is iridescent dark green or blue with gold stripe on sides. A red band runs from the gills to mid-body

Dark scales scattered over body

Large mouth and eyes
Found in clean, clear, small streams. Prefers pool areas
Does not tolerate turbidity
Spawns in late spring (late May-June)

Group spawners

Often deposit their eggs in creek chub nests
Eats mostly insects. Jumps out of water and uses large mouth to capture flying insects One of NY's most colorful minnows

Found in the upper Mohawk drainage streams draining Tug Hill & across southern NY to the western Catskills

Because of need for clean, clear water, sometimes used as an environmental indicator
Spottail Shiner 3-4"

Silver colored with slight gold tint

Dark spot on tail
Found in a variety of habitats

Prefers large lakes & streams

Often found over sandy bottoms
Spawn in groups in late spring/early summer (May-June) in sandy areas.

Scatters eggs

No parental care is given
Eats algae, insects, fish eggs and larvae Found in the Great Lakes & St. Lawrence River; the Finger Lakes east to the Delaware & Mohawk Rivers; and in the Hudson River drainage

Frequently used as baitfish
Loses scales easily when handled
Emerald Shiner 3-4" long

Silver in color with a green iridescence on top fading to silver/white on belly

Short snout and large eyes

Young are semi-transparent
Open water (pelagic) fish

Found in large lakes and rivers
Has an extended spawning period, lasting most of the summer

Group spawner. Scatters eggs in mid-water
Plankton feeders Found in the Hudson, Niagara & lower Mohawk rivers and in the Great Lakes & Lake Champlain

Often travels in large schools

One of the most important baitfish
Northern Redbelly Dace 1.5-2" long

Small mouth & large eyes

Dark brown to black on back with yellow to red belly

Two dark stripes found on upper body
Found in boggy lakes, creeks and ponds where the water is dark brown

In streams, prefers quiet areas with silt or decaying vegetation on bottom
Spawns in late spring (May-June)

Spawning pairs dart in and out of algae mats to deposit and fertilize eggs
Mainly eats plant materials and some zooplankton and insects Common in the Adirondacks, but nearly absent from the rest of the state

Although used as baitfish in parts of Canada, has little contact with people in NY
Common Shiner 3-4" long

Silver colored with large diamond-shaped scales
Found in streams. Avoids areas of fast current

Tolerates some silt, but not muddy water
Spawns in late spring (May-June)

Males either build nests at the upstream side of riffles or use nests of other minnow species

Spawns both as groups and individual pairs

Males develop blue-colored backs and red bellies
Eats a variety of organisms including insects, larval fish and plant material Found across NY except for Long Island

Hybrid of this species are common

Kingfishers, mergansers, bass & pike all feed heavily on these fish

Commonly used as bait by northern pike anglers
Fathead Minnow 2-3" long

Heavy-bodied with small mouth

Lateral line ends under dorsal fin

Dark colored with a brass tint on sides
Prefers slow moving water in streams & ponds

Tolerates muddy water & is found in roadside ditches

Also tolerates salt in water
Spawns in late spring (May-June)

Deposits adhesive eggs in nest on underside of logs, roots, rocks & lilly pads

Males guard the nest until the eggs hatch
Eats mostly algae Found across NY except for Long Island

Raised commercially as bait and for stocking in farm ponds as forage for gamefish. Also used for toxicity studies
River Chub 4-6" long

Stubby looking with small eyes

Dark on top, silver on sides & cream on belly

Has large scales edged in black
Found in large gravel or rocky bottomed creeks with clear water Spawns in spring (May)

Males build nests in areas of large gravel & rocks. Eggs are deposited in a trough on top of the nest

Males develop large fleshy pad on forehead
Eats mostly insect larvae Primarily found in the Susquehanna drainage basin & portions of western NY

Occasionally used as bait