Minnow - Family Cyprinidae, Part I

   BLACKNOSE DACE - Rhinichthys atratulus

blacknose dace fish

Fish Notes

The blacknose dace is tolerant of a wide range of environmental conditions. The dace is so adaptable it is the most common fish collected in Fairfax County.

Fairfax County Native: Yes

Size: Typically 2 to 3 inches

Diet: Aquatic and terrestrial insects, algae and detritus

map of blacknose dace distrbution

   BLUNTNOSE MINNOW - Pimephales notatus

bluntnose minnow fish

Fish Notes

Bluntnose minnows are named for their short, blunt noses. During breeding season, the bluntnose minnow sports numerous hard bumps on its snout called tubercles.

Fairfax County Native: Unknown, has spread quickly because of use as a bait species

Size: 3 inches, rarely to 4 inches

Diet: Aquatic insects and other small invertebrates

map of bluntnose minnow distribution

 CENTRAL STONEROLLER - Campostoma anomalum

central stoneroller fish 

Fish Notes

The central stoneroller is perfectly adapted to eat algae. It has a hard jaw ridge adapted to scrape algae off rocks.  To help digest the algae, this fish has the longest intestine compared to its size of any American minnow.  

Fairfax County Native: Yes

Size: 5 inches, rarely to 7 inches

Diet: Algae and detritus

map of central stoneroller distribution

  COMELY SHINER - Notropis amoenus

comely shiner fish

Fish Notes

The comely shiner is rare in Fairfax County. Due to its small size and rarity, not much is known about this minnow.

Fairfax County Native: Yes

Size: 3 inches, rarely larger

Diet: Unknown

map of comely shiner distribution

  COMMON CARP - Cyprinus carpio

common carp fish 

Fish Notes

The common carp is the largest member of the minnow family. The Virginia state fishing record is just over 49 pounds. Because of its large size, it typically inhabits large rivers and lakes. Specimens collected in Fairfax County are probably individuals pushed out of the lakes by heavy rains.

Fairfax County Native: No

Size: 30 inches, rarely to 40 inches

Diet: Aquatic invertebrates, plants, seeds, berries

map of common carp distribution

 COMMON SHINER - Luxilus cornutus

common shiner fish 

Fish Notes

During the spring breeding season, the common shiner males’ fins turn a bright red making this fish quite stunning.

Fairfax County Native: Yes

Size: 4 inches, rarely exceeding 5 inches

Diet: Aquatic and terrestrial insect, small invertebrates, algae and detritus

map of common shiner distribution

  CREEK CHUB - Semotilus atromaculatus

creek chub fish 

Fish Notes

Next to the blacknose dace, the creek chub is the second most common fish in Fairfax County. The creek chub grows large enough for it to be caught by fisherman on artificial lures.

Fairfax County Native: Yes

Size: 8 inches, rarely to 12 inches

Diet: Fish, crayfish and small frogs

map of creek chub distrbution 

  CUTLIPS MINNOW - Exoglossum maxillingua

cutlips minnow fish

Fish Notes

The cutlips minnow has a highly specialized lower jaw that is split into three lobes. While the exact reason for the split is debatable, it is theorized that it is used to help dislodge snails and insects from the stream bottom and to help crush mollusks for food.

Fairfax County Native: Yes

Size: 6 inches

Diet: Aquatic insects, snails and mullusks

map of cutlips minnow distribution

  EASTERN SILVERY MINNOW - Hybognathus regius

eastern silvery minnow fish

Fish Notes

The eastern silvery minnow has a very long intestine adapted to digest algae and detritus. Its plain looks make it a difficult minnow to identify.

Fairfax County Native: Yes

Size: 3.5 inches, rarely to 5 inches

Diet: Algae and detritus

map of eastern silvery minnow distribution


  FALLFISH - Semotilus corporalis 



Fish Notes

Fallfish are large minnows that build the largest stone nests among fishes during breeding season. These mounds can be up to three feet in height.

Fairfax County Native: Yes

Size: 12 inches

Diet: Aquatic and terrestrial insects, crayfish, fish and algae

map of fallfish distribution


Jenkins, R. E., N. M. Burkhead, 1994, Freshwater Fishes of Virginia, 1079 pgs., American Fisheries Society, Bethesda, MD

For more information, please email the Stormwater Planning Division or call 703-324-5500, TTY 711



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