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Fathead minnows?

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  • NANFA Guest

Posted 07 June 2020 - 09:31 AM

Hi all,

  I could use some feedback on a fish that I caught.  I am trying to identify it.  I think it's a fathead minnow?

  I caught several of these small minnows/shiners in a small freshwater stream here in central Massachusetts just two days ago.  There are pictures of two of the individuals attached to this post (the files called "Fish1", "Fish3", and "Fish5" are of one individual, "Fish4" is of a second individual).  There is a grid in the background of most pictures for a size standard (each line is 1 mm).

  According to my state, here are the possible minnows and shiners that we have in Massachusetts: 

Lake chub

Common shiner

Golden shiner

Bridle shiner

Central mudminnow

Spottail shiner

Bluntnose minnow

Fathead minnow



  I've seen enough Common shiners and Golden shiners in my area to feel pretty confident that it's not those.  I've seen a few fallfish, but not a lot, so I don't think it's that but I also don't feel 100% confident ruling it out.  The dorsal fin shape does not look right for a mudminnow.  Honestly, the dorsal fin shape doesn't look right for most of the species listed above, except for the fathead minnow.  But I've never seen a bridle shiner, spottail shiner, bluntnose minnow, lake chub or fathead minnow before.


  My thinking is that these fish are the fathead minnow, because of the dorsal fin shape, the black stripe along the side, the small mouth, and that the body gets "larger"/"wider" as you go back past the head.  There also appears to be a bit of black "edging" on the scales, which I think is common for that species as well?  However, I was reading and it said that the fathead (and bluntnose, I think?) has a short first dorsal fin ray and I didn't notice that (although it's possible I just didn't see it?).


  I guess it could be possible that the two fish are not the same species, either.  The dorsal fin and caudal fin has black rays in one fish (see "Fish1" picture) but the other fish did not have that ("Fish4").  But maybe that's breeding coloration?   


  What does everyone think?  I could use some thoughts to help me identify this.  Thanks!! 

Attached Files

Edited by DPFW, 07 June 2020 - 09:33 AM.

#2 keepnatives

  • Regional Rep

Posted 07 June 2020 - 11:54 AM

all look like fatheads

Mike Lucas
Mohawk-Hudson Watershed
Schenectady NY


  • NANFA Guest

Posted 08 June 2020 - 07:49 AM

all look like fatheads

Thank you. Can you tell me why you say that? I'd like to know what jumps out to you so that I can hone in on that for the future.

Also, why is one fish's find have black rays in it and the other does not? Any idea?

#4 Billie34

  • NANFA Guest
  • New York

Posted 02 November 2023 - 01:55 AM

all look like fatheads

They look so adorable

Edited by Billie34, 02 November 2023 - 01:56 AM.

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