A Virtual Museum on the State's Fish Biodiversity

Notropis texanus

Weed Shiner
Credit: Joseph R. Tomelleri


Life Life
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Class Actinopterygii
Order Cypriniformes
Family Cyprinidae (Carps and Minnows)
Genus Notropis
Species Notropis texanus (Weed Shiner)


All text below is derived from a January 2013 copy of Dr. Timothy Bonner's website at Texas State University. That content was derived primarily from published literature. We are aware of some conflicts with the museum record and the content below will evolve as the new, expanded UT and Texas State Fishes of Texas project team members are able to update it. We invite collaborations to improve and expand the species account content. Please contact us if you wish to help, or if you discover flaws in our species account content that you can address.

Type Locality

Salado Creek, just east of San Antonio, Bexar Co., TX (Girard 1857).

Etymology/Derivation of Scientific Name

Notropis, Greek, meaning “back keel;” (Pflieger 1997); texanus in reference to type locality Salado Creek, Texas (Ross 2001).


N. texanus was placed by Swift (1970), Coburn (1982), and Mayden (1989) in the N. texanus species group (subgenus Hydrophlox), which presently contains eight taxa including N. texanus, and N. chalybaeus. Prior to 1958, this species was known as N. roseus (Ross 2001). The taxonomic history of this species was clarified by Suttkus (1958).


Cyprinella texana Girard 1857:198

Alburnops xaenocephalus Hay 1881:504, 1883:69.

Notropis roseus Cook 1959: 117 (Ross 2001, co-authored with W.T. Slack).


Maximum size: Maximum size is 70mm SL, equivalent to 87mm (3.4 in) TL (Swift 1970). In Mississippi, most adults collected are less than 50mm SL and the largest fish examined was 67mm SL (Ross 2001).

Life colors: The back and upper sides are light olive green, with dark scale margins creating a cross hatched pattern. The sides have silvery white foundations, and the suborbital, postorbital, and ventral half of the opercle are silvery as well. In preservative the body is straw colored. The predorsal stripe is thickened and conspicuous, becoming expanded as a wedged shaped spot just anterior to the dorsal fin origin; postdorsally the stripe is much narrower or absent. A dark lateral band of uniform width (about the same width as the pupil) encircles the snout and continues posteriorly across the opercle to the base of the caudal fin, where it forms a rectangular caudal spot about the same width as the lateral band. A pale unpigmented band 1.0-1.5 scales wide borders the dorsal edge of the lateral band. The snout and head are lightly stippled, with the anterior half of the lower jaw and the lips more heavily stippled with dark pigment. The anterior scales below the lateral line are faintly to moderately edged with pigment. The remaining venter lacks pigment except for the intense pigmentation around the anus and posteriorly along the anal fin base. The post anal stripe is of varying intensity. The rays of the dorsal and caudal fins are usually outlined with melanophores. Melanophores in the caudal rays are usually more intense along the medial rays and the rays of the leading edges of the fin. The first ray of the pectoral fin is heavily lined with melanophores; rays 2-4 are faintly lined. The remaining rays and the interradial membrane are immaculate. The pelvic fin completely lacks pigment. The last three to four rays of the anal fin are outlined with melanophores, but the anterior rays usually are not. Some question exists regarding N. roseus, now recognized as a synonym or N. texanus, were described by Jordan (1877) as having a rose red dorsal, anal caudal, and pectoral fins, and having red on the top of the head tip of the snout, and iris. In thousands of specimens collected in Mississippi, the only fish approaching such coloration were taken from the Escatawapa River (Pascagoula drainage). These fish were nontuberculate males with developing testes. The color pattern matched Jordan’s description, although most of the color faded soon after capture when the fish were still in the seine. Etnier and Starnes (1993) commented on the lack of red coloration in Tennessee specimens (Ross 2001).

Pharyngeal teeth count: Pharyngeal teeth 1 or 2,4-4,2 or 1; without prominent parallel grooves (Hubbs et al., 1991). Pharyngeal teeth rarely 1,4-4,2 or 2,4-4,1 (Suttkus 1958).

Counts: Usually 7 anal fin rays; fewer than 10 soft rays on dorsal fin (Hubbs et al., 1991). Lateral line scales 34-38, predorsal scale rows 14-16. Pectoral fin rays 12-16. Pelvic fin rays modally 8. Gill rakers 7-9; the longest rakers about twice their basal width (Etnier and Starnes 1993).

Body shape: Medium sized minnow, with a somewhat compressed body; bluntly rounded nose (Ross 2001).

Mouth position: Mouth terminal and oblique (Hubbs et al., 1991).

External morphology: Lateral stripe distinct; paired dots along lateral line; eye small contained about four times in body depth (measured over curve); dorsal fin more triangular, last fin ray less then one half length of the longest. Predorsal scales not crowded; first obvious dorsal fin ray a thin splint, closely attached to the following well developed but unbranched ray especially at tip; lower lip thin, without fleshy lobe; no maxillary barbel present; lateral line usually not decurved, either straight or with a broad arch. Premaxillaries protractile; upper lip separated from skin of snout by a deep groove continuous across the midline; cartilaginous ridge of lower jaw hardly evident and not separated by a definite groove from the lower lip. Distance from origin of anal fin to end of caudal peduncle contained two and one-half or fewer times in distance from tip of snout to origin of anal fin. Dorsal and anal fins without spines (Hubbs et al.1991). Nuptial males develop tubercles on their pectoral fins and on the snout, lower jaw, and top of the head. Small tubercles also occur on the anterior half of body on the breast and on the sides above the pectoral fin (Ross 2001).

Distribution (Native and Introduced)

U.S. distribution: Occurs in the Mississippi River Basin from Minnesota and Wisconsin south to the Gulf of Mexico; ranges along Gulf of Mexico Drainages in the Coastal Plain from the Suwannee River of Florida and Georgia, east to the Nueces River of Texas; more common or abundant south of the Ohio-Tennessee River Confluences (Ross 2001); reported from the Red River of the North drainages in Minnesota, and the drainages of Lake Michigan and Lake Huron (Swift 1980).

Texas distribution: Distributed in low gradient streams in eastern part of state from the Nueces Basin northward to the Red River about at Lake Texoma (Hubbs et al., 1991).

Abundance/Conservation status (Federal, State, NGO):

Populations in southern drainages are currently stable (Warren et al. 2000).

Not listed by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (2006).

Habitat Associations

Macrohabitat: Mainly in open sand bottomed streams of widely varying sizes in the south (Swift 1979); may occur in oxbow lakes, and in man-made ponds and reservoirs, especially in shallow, weedy coves (Ross 2001).

Mesohabitat: Low-gradient streams and slower-moving portions of high-gradient streams with substrates of sand, gravel, or rock (Boschung and Mayden 2004). During summer and fall associated with sand bank habitat, but as discharge increased during winter they were found more in backwaters, riffles, and flooded riffles; occupied sandbank and backwater habitats during spring (Moriarty and Winemiller 1997). Some authors (Page and Burr 1991; Gilbert and Williams, in litt.) indicate the weed shiners propensity for a weed habitat in the northern part of its range and a weedless habitat in the south (Boshung and Mayden 2004). Although weed shiners are common in vegetated streams, they also occur in streams with little or no vegetation. In vegetated streams they occur in open water near, but not in vegetation (Ross 2001). Readily moved out onto inundated floodplains, which may be highly vegetated habitats (Guillory 1979; Ross and Baker 1983), and population cycles may be tied to period of flooding. Ross and Baker (1983) indicate abundance of weed shiners increases in years of spring flooding, and decreases in those years having relatively low flow in the spring.


Spawning season: In Florida, breeds during March and April; in Missouri, breeding in May; in Mississippi, breeds in June (Swift 1970). In southeastern Mississippi, March through September or early October at water temps of 17-29° C (Heins and Davis 1984). In Village Creek, Texas, Moriarty and Winemiller (1997) collected individuals showing length-frequency distributions consistent with late spring-early summer (May-June) spawning.

Spawning habitat:

Reproductive strategy:

Fecundity: Ripe unfertilized eggs are about 0.9mm (0.75-1.05mm) in diameter. Egg sizes very among drainages and are positively correlated with stream discharge (as measured by run off). Populations in streams with higher discharge tend to produce larger eggs, resulting in increased larval size at hatching. Mature females have several size classes of ova in their ovaries, indicating that they produce multiple clutches of eggs during the breeding season. Females of 33.8-61.0mm SL contain 191-1105 mature eggs, with body size and clutch size strongly correlated. However, because females produce multiple clutches during the spawning season, annual egg production is likely much greater than these numbers would indicate (Heins and Davis 1984; Heins and Rabito 1988).

Age at maturation: Age 1; minimum size at maturity is 33mm SL for females and 30mm SL for males (Heins and Rabito 1988).


Growth and population structure: Growth is initially rapid, with fish attaining 32mm SL, about 60% of maximum growth after one year of growth. Fish average 44mm SL after their second year and 54mm SL after their third year (Bresnick and Heins 1977).

Longevity: Bresnick and Heins (1977) studied age and growth: Most individuals live two plus years in Mississippi, with a few living over three; mean standard lengths of 37, 44, and 54 mm were reached at ages 1, 2, and 3. Ross (2001) noted individuals living into their fourth year but most parishing after their third year.

Food habits: Detritivore; particulate feeder; feeding behavior classified as “biter”, as species exhibits feeding mode in which accumulated detritus is scraped from macrophyte leaves (Simon 1999); feeds during the day, with peaks in activity either after sunrise or in mid-afternoon (Baker and Ross 1981). In the Calcasieu River drainage of southern Louisiana, weed shiners fed primarily on organic detritus (81% by volume) during the dry season. In the wet season, when food was perhaps more abundant, weed shiners had a broader diet, obtaining 20% of their diets volume from surface animal prey, 5% from midwater prey, 39% from benthic animal prey, and 35% from organic detritus (Felley and Felley 1987). Becker (1983) reported significant portion of diet composed of filamentous algae and detritus, in addition to small invertebrates; ratio of digestive tract (DT) to total length (TL): DT 0.6-0.7 TL; gut is single S-shaped loop. Intestine not wound spirally around air bladder (Hubbs et al. 1991).

Phylogeny and morphologically similar fishes

Notropis texanus often confused with N. chalybaeus; N. chalybaeus has 8 anal rays rather than 7, and has considerable pigment inside the mouth, whereas N. texanus has none (Swift 1970). The presence of seven anal rays and a 2,4-4,2 pharyngeal tooth pattern separate N. texanus from N. chalybaeus, N. maculutus, N. volucellus, and Opsopoeodus emiliae (Ross 2001). N. blennius has only 7 anal fin rays, but lacks a dark lateral stripe and caudal spot and is restricted to large rivers (Etnier and Starnes 1993).

Host Records

Dactylogyrus: D. banghmai, D.ornatus (Mizelle and McDougal 1970); freshwater mussel (Family: Unionidae): Lampsilis straminea claibornensis (Keller and Ruessler 1997).

Commercial or Environmental Importance

[Additional literature noting collection of this species from Texas locations includes, but is not limited to the following: Big Sandy Creek, an East Texas stream (Polk and Hardin counties; Evans and Noble 1979); Brazos River and San Jacinto River drainages (Amemiya and Gold 1988); Pine Island Bayou, southeast Texas (Hardin and Jefferson counties; Kleinsasser and Linam 1987); San Marcos River (Hays Co.) and Gibbons Creek (Nacogdoches Co.; Campos and Hubbs 1973).]


Amemiya, C.T., and J.R. Gold. 1988. Chromosomal NORs as taxomic and systematic characters in North American cyprinid fishes. Genetica 76(2):81-90.

Baker, J.A. and S.T. Ross. 1981. Spatial and temporal resource utilization by southeastern cyprinids. Copeia 1981(1):178-189.

Becker, G.C. 1983. Fishes of Wisconsin. University of Wisconsin Press, Madison. 1052 pp.

Boschung, H.T., Jr., and R.L. Mayden. 2004. Fishes of Alabama. Smithsonian Books, Washington. 736 pp.

Bresnick, G.I. and D.C. Heins 1977. The age and growth of the weed shiner, Notropis texanus (Girard). Amer. Midl. Nat. 98(2):491-494.

Campos, H.H., and C. Hubbs. 1973. Taxonomic implications of the karyotype of Opsopoeodus emiliae. Copeia 1973(1):161-163.

Coburn, M.M. 1982. Anatomy and relationships of Notropis athinoides. Ph.D. diss., Ohio State Univ., Columbus.

Cook, F.A. 1959. Freshwater fishes in Mississippi. Mississippi Game and Fish Commision, Jackson. 239 pp.

Etnier, D.A., and W.C. Starnes. 1993. The Fishes of Tennessee. Knoxville, The University of Tennessee Press. 681 pp.

Evans, J.W., and R.L. Noble. 1979. The longitudinal distribution of fishes in an east Texas stream. American Midland Naturalist 101(2):333-343.

Felley, J.D., and S.M. Felley. 1987. Relationships between habitat selection by individuals of a species and patterns of habitat segregation among species: fishes of the Calcasieu drainage, pp. 61-68. In: Evolutionary and community ecology of North American Stream fishes. W.J. Matthews and D.C. Heins, eds. Univ. Oklahoma Press, Norman.

Gilbert, C.R., and J.D. Williams (in litt.). The Freshwater Fishes of Florida. [Author’s manuscript of book in preparation]. referenced p.253 In: Boshung and Mayden. 2004.

Girard, C. 1857. Researches upon the cyprinid fishes in habiting the fresh waters of the United States of America, west of the Mississippi Valley from specimens in the Museum of the Smithsonian Institution. Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci. Phil. (1856) 8(5):165-213.

Guillory, V. 1979. Utilization of an inundated floodplain by Mississippi River fishes. Fla. Sci. 42:222-228.

Hay, O.P. 1881. On a collection of fishes from eastern Mississippi. Proc. U.S. Nat. Mus. 3:488-515.

Hay, O.P. 1883. On a collection of fishes from the lower Mississippi Valley. Bull. U.S. Fish Comm. 2:57-75.

Heins, D.C. and D. Davis. 1984. The reproductive season of the weed shiner, Notropis texanus. (Pisces:Cyprinindae), in Southeastern Mississippi. Southwest. Nat. 29(1):133-140

Heins, D.C. and F.G. Rabito. 1988. Reproductive traits in populations of the weed shiner, Notropis texanus from the Gulf Coastal Plain. Southwest. Nat. 33(2):147-156.

Hoffman G.L. 1967. Parasites of North American Freshwater Fishes. University of California Press. Berkeley and Los Angeles, CA 1-486.

Hubbs, Carl L., R.J. Edwards and G.P. Garret. 1991. An annotated checklist of freshwater fishes of Texas, with key to identification of species. Texas Journal of Science, Supplement 43(4):1-56.

Jordan, D.S. 1877. Contributions to North American ichthyology, based primarily on on the collections of the United States National Museum. No. 2A. Notes on Cottidae, Etheostomatidae, Percidae, Centrarchidae, Aphredoderidae, Dorysomatidae, and Cyprinidae, with revisions of genera and descriptions of new or little know species. Bull. U.S. Nat. Mus. 10:1-68.

Keller, A.E., and D.S. Ruessler. 1997. Determination or verification of host fish for nine species of unionid mussels. American Midland Naturalist 138(2):402-407.

Kleinsasser, L.J., and G.W. Linam. 1987. Fisheries use attainability study for Pine Island Bayou (segment 0607). River Studies Report No. 6. Resource Protection Division, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Austin. 21 pp.

Mayden, R.L. 1989. Phylogenetic studies of North American Minnows, with emphasis on the genus Cyprinella (Teleostei:Cypriniformes). Misc. Publ. Mus. Nat. Hist. Univ. Kans. 80:1-189.

Mizelle, J.D. and H.D. McDougal. 1970 Studies on Monogenetic Trematodes. XLV. The genus Dactylogyrus in North America. Key to Species, Host Parasite and Parasite host lists, Localities, emendations, and description of D. Kritskyi sp.n. Amer. Midl. Nat. 84(2):444-462.

Moriarty, L. J. and K.O. Winemiller. 1997. Spatial and temporal variation in fish assemblage structure in Village Creek, Hardin County Texas. Tex. J. Sci., 49: 85-110.

Page, L.M., and B.M. Burr. 1991. A Field Guide to Freshwater Fishes of North America North of Mexico. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston. 432 pp.

Ross, S.T., and J.A. Baker. 1983. The response of fishes to periodic spring floods in a southeastern stream. Amer. Midl. Nat. 109(1):1-14.

Ross, S.T. 2001. Inland fishes of Mississippi. University Press of Mississippi, Jackson Mississippi. 220-222 pp.

Simon, T. P. 1999. Assessing the sustainability and biological integrity of water resources using fish communities. CRC Press. Boca Raton; London; New York; Washington. 671 pp.

Suttkus, R. D. 1958. Status of nominal cyprinid species Moniana deliciosa Girard and Cyprinella texana Girard. Copeia 1958(4):307-318.

Swift, C.C. 1970. A review of the eastern North American cyprinid fishes of the Notropis texanus species group (subgenus Hydrophlox, Alburnops), with a definition of the subgenus Hydrophlox, and materials for a revision of the subgenus Alburnops. Ph.D. diss. Florida State Univ., Tallahassee.

Swift, C.C. 1979. Notropis texanus (Girard), Weed Shiner. pp. 316 in D.S. Lee et al. Atlas of North American Freshwater Fishes. N.C. State Mus. Nat. Hist., Raleigh, i-r+854 pp.

Swift, C.C. 1980. Notropis texanus (Girard), weed shiner, p.316. In: Lee, D. S., et seq. 1980. Atlas of North American Freshwater Fishes. North Carolina State Museum of Natural History, Raliegh.

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Wildlife Division, Diversity and Habitat Assessment Programs. County Lists of Texas' Special Species. [30 May 2006]. http://gis.tpwd.state.tx.us/TpwEndangeredSpecies/DesktopModules/AcountyCodeKeyForWebESDatabases.pdf

Warren, M.L. Jr., B.M. Burr, S. J. Walsh, H.L. Bart Jr., R. C. Cashner, D.A. Etnier, B. J. Freeman, B.R. Kuhajda, R.L. Mayden, H. W. Robison, S.T. Ross, and W. C. Starnes. 2000. Diversity, distribution and conservation status of the native freshwater fishes of the southern United States. Fisheries 25(10):7-29.


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