Minnow - Family Cyprinidae, Part II


  FATHEAD MINNOW - Pimephales promelas

fathead minnow fish

Fish Notes

The fathead minnow is a popular bait fish which has led to its large distribution across the eastern United States. This fish is hardy and is used by scientists to test the effects of chemicals.

Fairfax County Native: No, probably introduced as a bait bucket fish

Size: 2.5 inches, rarely above 3 inches

Diet: Insects, algae and detritus

map of fathead minnow distribution

 GOLDEN SHINER - Notemigonus crysoleucas

golden shiner fish 

Fish Notes

The golden shiner is a staple in the bait world, which has resulted in its large distribution. The name is a reference to the golden color that appears in some of the species.

Fairfax County Native: Probably, but widespread use as a bait minnow has expanded its range considerably.

Size: 7 inches, rarely to 10 inches

Diet: Terrestrial and aquatic insects, plant matter

map of golden shiner distribution

  GOLDFISH - Carassius auratus


Fish Notes

Goldfish were first introduced to the United States in the late 1600s. Goldfish are naturally a silvery bronze color and not the bright orange you see in the pet stores.

Fairfax County Native: No

Size: 16 inches

Diet: Aquatic insects, plant matter and small fish

map of goldfish distribution

  LONGNOSE DACE - Rhinichthys cataractae

longnose dace fish 

Fish Notes

This native minnow is well adapted to living in swift running water. It has a down sloped nose and a rudimentary gas bladder which allows them to live easily in the swift current.

Fairfax County Native: Yes

Size: 3 to 4 inches, rarely to 5 inches

Diet: Aquatic insects and other small invertebrates

map of longnose dace distribution

  RIVER CHUB - Nocomis micropogon

river chub fish 

Fish Notes

As its name implies, the river chub is found mainly in medium to large rivers. In Fairfax County they were found on the main stems of Accotink Creek, Pohick Creek, Cub Run and Popes Head Creek. During the breeding season the males develop tubercles to defend their nest.

Fairfax County Native: Yes

Size: 7 inches, rarely to 9 inches

Diet: Aquatic insects and other small invertebrates

map of river chub distribution

  ROSYSIDE DACE - Clinostomus funduloides

 rosyside dace fish

Fish Notes

The rosyside dace is a nest associate which means they breed over other fish species' nests. This has led to some cases of hybridization with river chubs, creek chubs and fallfish.

Fairfax County Native: Yes

Size: 3 to 4 inches

Diet: Aquatic and terrestrial insects and other small invertebrates

map of rosyside dace distribution

 SATINFIN SHINERS - Cyprinella spp.

satinfin shiners fish 

Fish Notes

Two species of satinfin shiner are found in Fairfax County; the spotfin shiner and the satinfin shiner. The satinfin shiners have a reputation as a good aquarium fish because of their active nature and their acceptance of dried fish food.

Fairfax County Native: Yes

Size: 3 inches, rarely to 4 inches

Diet: Aquatic and terrestrial insects and other small invertebrates

map of satinfin shiners distribution

  SILVERJAW MINNOW - Notropis buccatus

silverjaw minnow fish 

Fish Notes

The silverjaw has a canal structure below its eye that allows vibrations created by prey to be detected.

Fairfax County Native: Unknown

Size: 2.5 inches, rarely to 3 inches

Diet: Benthic macroinvertebrates

map of silverjaw minnow distribution

  SPOTTAIL SHINER - Notropis hudsonius

 spottail shiner fish

Fish Notes

The spottail shiner is a large shiner that is typically found in medium to large streams and rivers and can survive in tidal brackish waters.

Fairfax County Native: Yes

Size: 3.5 inches, rarely to 5 inches

Diet: Aquatic and terrestrial insects and other small invertebrates

map of spottail shiner distribution

  SWALLOWTAIL SHINER - Notropis procne

swallowtail shiner fish 

Fish Notes

Like the cyprinella, the swallowtail shiner does well in aquaria and will readily breed if given the right conditions.

Fairfax County Native: Yes

Size: 2.5 inches

Diet: Most small aquatic invertebrates

map of swallowtail shiner 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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