Species At Risk

Pugnose Minnow

(Opsopoeodus emiliae)


Pugnose Minnow
Pugnose Minnow occurrences map


The Pugnose Minnow is a slender, silvery-coloured fish about five centimetres long with a forked tail. It has a black lateral band and the scales on its back and side are distinctly outlined, with translucent straw coloured or olive overtones. The rounded snout and small upturned mouth accounts for the name pugnose.

The Pugnose Minnow feeds mainly on aquatic insects such as midges, but also eats aquatic crustaceans, fish eggs and fish fry. The up-turned mouth suggests that the Pugnose Minnow is a mid-water or near-surface feeder.

This species has a unique spawning behaviour. In late spring, males select a flat surface for the spawning site, such as the underside of a flat rock, and lead the females to the site. Females lay eggs on the underside of this surface and the males then guard the nest and eggs from predators. Eggs are laid singly or in strings of two to five in a single layer. Up to 120 eggs can be laid per spawning session, which is repeated over six to seven days.

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The Pugnose Minnow lives in central North America in the rivers and streams of the Mississippi River basin. Its range extends from South Carolina and Florida west to Texas and north to Wisconsin. In Canada, it is at the northern limit of its range and is only found in extreme southwestern Ontario with small populations in Lake St. Clair and the Detroit River.


The Pugnose Minnow prefers coastal wetlands, and slow-moving rivers and streams with clear, warm water, little or no current, and abundant vegetation.


The main threat to this species is habitat alteration and siltation of rivers and streams due to agricultural practices and urban development, resulting in loss of well-vegetated habitats.


The Pugnose Minnow is protected under Ontario's Endangered Species Act and the federal Species at Risk Act. The species and/or its habitat are also protected under other legislation, such as the federal Fisheries Act and the Ontario Water Resources Act.

What You Can Do to Help the Pugnose Minnow

  • The Ministry of Natural Resources tracks species at risk such as the Pugnose Minnow. 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.

Did you know?

Pugnose Minnows have a lifespan of about three years.

Did you know?

Breeding males develop small white knobs on the first three dorsal fin rays and patches of small tubercles on the snout and chin. These small white knobs may act as egg mimics to stimulate the female to spawn.

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.