Aquatic Species at Risk – Pugnose Shiner

Pugnose Shiner

Pugnose Shiner (Notropis anogenus)

Photo credit: DFO

SARA Status: Endangered

Region: Ontario


Did you know?

The Pugnose Shiner has a small, almost vertical mouth. It is this vertical mouth that gives the fish its “pugnose” appearance. Its Greek scientific name anogenus means “without a chin”.

Related Information

Consultations on listing under the Species at Risk Act

Recovery strategy for the Pugnose Shiner in Canada

SARA Registry - Pugnose Shiner

COSEWIC Status Report - Pugnose Shiner (2013)


Pugnose Shiner
Illustration of a Pugnose Shiner by Ellen Edmonson (NYSDEC)

The Pugnose Shiner (Notropis anogenus) is a member of the minnow family (Cyprinidae) and has the following characteristics:

  • Body is fragile, slender and small, somewhat compressed laterally;
  • Extremely small upturned mouth;
  • Distinct black lateral band extends around snout and chin, through the eye to the caudal peduncle, ending with a small dark wedge-shaped caudal spot;
  • Overall colouration is silver with pale yellow and olive tints above the lateral black band;
  • Males become brightly golden in colour during spawning;
  • All fins are transparent;
  • Eight dorsal rays; and
  • Total length is approximately 50 mm for males and 60 mm for females.


The range of the Pugnose Shiner extends from Ontario, south to Illinois and west to North Dakota. The species has a disjunct distribution and it is often absent from theoretically suitable habitat within its range. In Canada, this species has only been found in four main areas of Ontario: 1) southern Lake Huron drainage; 2) Lake St. Clair; 3) Lake Erie; and 4) eastern Lake Ontario/upper St. Lawrence River drainage. It is assumed to be extirpated from Point Pelee and Rondeau Bay.

The Pugnose Shiner is usually found over sand and mud in slow-moving, clear, vegetated streams and lakes. It is found in sheltered ponds, wetlands, stagnant channels and protected bays adjacent to larger waterbodies. Spawning is thought to occur in late spring to early summer, and takes place in shallow, heavily vegetated waters. It does not guard its eggs, but rather distributes them widely over the aquatic plants and substrates.


The Pugnose Shiner requires clear water with abundant aquatic vegetation. Habitat degradation and loss is the principal threat. Activities that contribute to these threats include agricultural, industrial and urban development, removal of aquatic vegetation, and changes in water quality/quantity. As many habitat areas are fragmented, there is limited connection between populations. Aquatic invasive species are also a growing threat, particularly Common Carp and Eurasian watermilfoil, due to their negative effects on native aquatic vegetation.

Further Information

As of January 2005, the Pugnose Shiner is protected under the Species at Risk Act, which prohibits harming, killing or capturing individuals.

A recovery strategy has been developed in collaboration with the recovery team, which includes representatives from Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, local conservation authorities, universities, and other interested stakeholders.

Several recovery measures have already been implemented. For example, there is currently an aquatic ecosystem-based recovery strategy for the Essex-Erie region, which helps to support populations of Pugnose Shiner. In addition, stewardship and outreach/awareness programs to reduce identified threats are ongoing.

For more information, visit the SARA Registry at

Also see the Baitfish Primer for Ontario (PDF 15,73 MB)

Scientific Information

Scientific Name: Notropis anogenus
SARA Status: Endangered (January 2005)
COSEWIC Status:  Threatened (May 2013)