Ozark Minnow

Ozark minnow female, side view photo with black background
Scientific Name
Notropis nubilus
Cyprinidae (minnows) in the order Cypriniformes (carps, minnows, and loaches)

The Ozark minnow is small and slender. The back and upper sides are dark yellow olive. Scales are dark-edged. The lower sides are silvery, with a prominent dusky stripe at the midline that extends forward past the eye. The midline of the back has a dusky stripe overlain with a series of golden spots that are visible when the fish is in the water.


Total length: 2¼ to 2¾ inches; maximum to about 3 inches.

Where To Find
image of Ozark Minnow distribution map

One of the most common minnow species in the Ozark uplands.

Most abundant in creeks and small rivers with gravelly or rocky bottoms and strong, permanent flow. Usually found in protected backwaters near riffles or in pools directly below riffles. Often seen in large schools with other common minnows such as bleeding, cardinal, and duskystripe shiners.

Omnivorous, feeding mostly on plant material with some animal matter.

Life Cycle

Usually only live for about three years. Most active in daytime. Ozark minnows spawn late April to early July. Spawning activity peaks in May and June. Like the bleeding shiner, Ozark minnows often spawn over nests of the hornyhead chub. The Ozark minnow and bleeding shiner frequently spawn at the same time and place, and hybrids between them are common.

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Similar Species
About Fishes in Missouri
Missouri has more than 200 kinds of fish, more than are found in most neighboring states. Fishes live in water, breathe with gills, and have fins instead of legs. Most are covered with scales. Most fish in Missouri “look” like fish and could never be confused with anything else. True, lampreys and eels have snakelike bodies — but they also have fins and smooth, slimy skin, which snakes do not.