Ozark Minnow

Notropis nubilus


Ozark minnow female, side view photo with black background
Ozark minnow, Notropis nubilus, female
Lance Merry

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.


Ozark minnow male in spawning colors, side view photo with black background
Ozark Minnow Male in Spawning Color
Ozark minnow, Notropis nubilus, male in spawning coloration
Habitat and conservation

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.

image of Ozark Minnow distribution map
Distribution in Missouri

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

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.