Blackmouth shiner: Notropis melanostomus

Taxonomic Classification

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Cypriniformes
Family: Cyprinidae
Genus/Species: Notropis melanostomus
Common Name: Blackmouth shiner

Listing Status

Federal Status: Not Listed
FL Status: State-designated Threatened
FNAI Ranks: G2/S1 (Globally: Imperiled/State: Critically Imperiled)
IUCN Status: VU (Vulnerable)

Physical Description

The blackmouth shiner is a smaller member of the Notropis genus that can reach a body length of only 1.5 inches (3.8 centimeters).  This species is gray with large black eyes, a black abdominal area, and a black stripe that runs along the midsection of its sides (Florida Natural Areas Inventory 2001).


Life History

The diet of the blackmouth shiner primarily consists of a variety of algae, phytoplankton, zooplankton, rotifers, and small crustaceans (Bortone, 1993). 

Breeding occurs from late spring through the summer between the months of March and August because of the warmer water temperatures available during that time of the year (Bortone, 1993).  Spawning has never been observed; however, they are probably substrate spawners (lay eggs on subsoil) (Gilbert 1992).  The average egg mass per female is 60-70 eggs.  The blackmouth shiner reaches sexual maturity at a standard length of 0.8 inches (2.1 centimeters) (Boschung and Mayden 2004).

Habitat and Distribution

Blackmouth Shiner Distribution MapThe blackmouth shiner inhabits the backwaters of rivers and streams off the main channel (Florida Natural Areas Inventory 2001; Bortone 1993).  This species may be found in the Yellow, Shoal, and Blackwater River, and Pond Creek in Florida; Bay Minnette Creek in Alabama; and the Pascagoula, Lower Black Creek, and Chickasawhay River  in Mississippi. (Bass et al., 2004; Bortone 1993; O’Connell et al., 1998; O’Connell et al., 2005; Suttkus and Bailey, 1990).  Blackmouth shiners have been collected along shoreline areas associated with pond cypress, Atlantic white cedar, sweet gum and various pine species (Bortone 1993).


Primary threats to blackmouth shiners include short life expectancy and the fact that their ephemeral (temporary) primary habitats are brief in existence.  Their small range is also a threat and could cause the extirpation (local extinction) of the species in Florida, during a natural or environmental catastrophe.  Increased urbanization of the drainage areas of the Shoal River and Pond Creek in northwest Florida is a threat to the blackmouth shiner’s ephemeral habitats.  Other threats include decreased water quality levels caused by pollution and potential water supply reservoirs. 

Conservation and Management

The blackmouth shiner is protected as a State-designated Threatened species by Florida’s Endangered and Threatened Species Rule External Website.

Biological Status Review (BSR) Adobe PDF
Supplemental Information for the BSR Adobe PDF

Other Informative Links

International Union for Conservation of Nature External Website
NatureServe Explorer External Website
Florida Natural Areas Inventory External Website



Printable version of this page Adobe PDF


Bass, G., T. Hoehn, J. Couch, K. McDonald. 2004. Florida Imperiled Fish Species Investigations. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Tallahassee. 59 p.

Bortone, S. A.1993. Life history, habitat assessment, and systematics of blackmouth shiner (Notropis sp.) Blackwater River drainage, Fla. Game and Fish Commission, Non-game Wildlife Program, Final Report. Tallahassee, Florida. 40 p.

Boschung H.T., and R. L. Mayden. 2004. Fishes of Alabama. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington D.C. 736 pp.

Florida Natural Areas Inventory.  2001.  Field guide to the rare animals of Florida. External Website

Gilbert, C.R., editors. 1992.  Blackmouth shiner. Pages 58-62 in Rare and Endangered Biota of Florida, Volume II. Fish.  University Press of Florida, Gainesville, Florida.

O'Connell, M. T., A. M. Uzee O’Connell, and J. D. William. 2005. Assessment of rarity of the blackmouth shiner Notropis melanostomus (Cyprinidae) based upon museum and recent survey data. Southeastern Naturalist 4(2):247-260.

O'Connell, M. T., S. T. Ross, J. A. Ewing, and W. T. Slack. 1998. Distribution and habitat   affinities of the blackmouth shiner (Notropis melanostomus) in Mississippi, including eight newly discovered localities in the Upper Pascagoula River drainage. Southeastern Fishes Council Proceedings 36:1–6.

Suttkus, R. D. and R. M. Bailey. 1990. Characters, relationships, distribution, and biology of Notropis melanostomus, a recently named cyprinid fish from southeastern United States. Occasional Papers of the Museum of Zoology, The University of Michigan 722:1–15.

Image Credit Photo courtesy of D.G. Bass

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