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spottail shiner

spottail shiner (Notropis hudsonius)
Photo © Paul Vecsei/Engbretson Underwater Photography

Features and Behaviors


The spottail shiner is green-brown on the back and upper sides and silver or white below. There is a large, black spot at the base of the tail fin. The lower edge of the tail fin is white. The front edge of the dorsal fin is very slightly in front of the front edge of the pelvic fin. The mouth is nearly horizontal. Teeth are present in the throat. The breeding male has tubercles (bumps) on the head and along the pectoral fins. This fish may attain a length of about five inches.


The spottail shiner may be found in Lake Michigan, the Rock River, the Illinois River and the Mississippi River. It swims in large schools near the shoreline of Lake Michigan. This fish prefers a bottom of sand, gravel and rubble. It schools at middle water depths in association with other minnows. Spawning occurs from May through June. Thousands of eggs are produced. The spottail shiner eats algae, adult and immature insects, crustaceans and other items. It may live for five years.

Illinois Range


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

Illinois Status: common, native