Species At Risk

Bridle Shiner

(Notropis bifrenatus)

Special Concern

Bridle Shiner


The Bridle Shiner is a small minnow with a slender body growing up to six centimetres in length. It has a small mouth which extends back to the lower edge of the eye.

Adult Bridle Shiners are generally silvery, often with a green-blue iridescence. The surface of the body is straw-coloured while the underside is silvery-white. Bridle Shiners also have a dark stripe that extends along the side of the body, but at times may be quite faint and difficult to see.

The Bridle Shiner spawns in the spring and early summer. During this period the fins on both sexes become pale yellow, while the sides of the males turn a yellow or gold and the front of their pectoral fins become darker.

Bridle Shiners live for two years and usually only spawn once.

Action we are taking:


The Bridle Shiner is found in eastern North America, extending from eastern Ontario east to Maine and south to South Carolina. In Ontario, it has been identified at 17 sites in the eastern Lake Ontario drainage and the St. Lawrence River.


Bridle Shiners prefer clear, unpolluted streams, rivers and lakes which have an abundance of aquatic vegetation. These vegetated areas provide suitable spawning habitat and places to feed and hide from predators. Bridle Shiners prefer warm water habitats where the bottom is either sand, silt or organic debris, which is necessary for the establishment of aquatic vegetation.


Bridle Shiners are sensitive to sediment and chemical runoff into the water from agricultural lands, and the resulting decrease in water clarity and quality.

One invasive species, Zebra Mussels, may have helped local populations by improving water clarity. Another invasive species, Eurasian Watermilfoil, clogs shallow spawning areas for the minnow and may be contributing to declines.


The Bridle Shiner is listed as a species of Special Concern under Ontario’s Endangered Species Act. Although species of Special Concern do not receive legal protection under this act, this species does receive general protection provided by habitat sections of the federal Fisheries Act.

What You Can Do to Help the Bridle Shiner

  • The Ministry of Natural Resources tracks species at risk such as the Bridle Shiner. You can use a handy online form to report your sightings to the Natural Heritage Information Centre. Photographs with specific locations or mapping coordinates are always helpful. nhic.mnr.gov.on.ca
  • Report any illegal activity related to plants and wildlife to 1-877-TIPS-MNR (847-7667).
  • Private land owners have a very important role to play in species at risk recovery. You may be eligible for stewardship programs that support the protection and recovery of species at risk and their habitats.
  • Volunteer with your local nature club or provincial park to participate in surveys or stewardship work focused on species at risk.
  • Invasive species seriously threaten many of Ontario’s species at risk. To learn what you can do to help reduce the threat of invasive species, visit: ontario.ca/invasivespecies; www.invadingspecies.com; www.ontarioinvasiveplants.ca; and, www.invasivespecies.gc.ca.
  • Land owners can help improve fish habitat and keep Ontario’s water safe and clean by maintaining natural vegetation next to creeks and rivers, and keeping pollution and soil from washing into Ontario’s rivers. You can find more information about programs and funding assistance for eligible farmers from the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association website at www.ontariosoilcrop.org/en/programs/species_at_risk.htm.

Did you know?

The Bridle Shiner can be easily confused with the Blacknose Shiner, Blackchin Shiner and the Pugnose Shiner with which it commonly shares clear vegetated habitats.

Did you know?

As with minnows in general, Bridle Shiners are often prey for larger species of fish such as members of the pike, bass and perch families.

The Endangered Species Act

Contact your local ministry office

Often the best source of local information on species at risk is your nearest ministry office. Call with your questions or concerns.