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mimic shiner

mimic shiner (Notropis volucellus) Photo © Uland Thomas

Features and Behaviors


The mimic shiner grows to an average length of two to two and one-half inches. The female is larger than the male. On the front half of the body, the scales along the sides are taller than they are wide. The snout is broad and round. The back is gray to yellow-olive, and the scales of the back and upper sides are outlined with pigment. Each silver side has a dark stripe that fades toward the head. A dark spot is present at the front of the dorsal fin base. The belly is silver-white. The breeding male has projections (tubercles) on the top of his head and on some of the fins. The mimic shiner has a life span of about two years.


The mimic shiner may be found in the eastern border counties of Illinois and the Mississippi, Ohio and Wabash rivers. This fish lives over sandy areas of creeks and rivers. The mimic shiner swims in schools in midwater or near the surface in association with several other minnow species. Spawning occurs in early summer. It eats insects and small crustaceans.

Illinois Range


Kingdom: Animalia​
Phylum: Chordata​
Class: Actinopterygii​
Order: Cypriniformes​
Family: Leuciscidae

Illinois Status: common, native