Species At Risk

Pugnose Shiner

(Notropis anogenus)


The Pugnose Shiner is a small, slender minnow that can reach five to six centimetres in length. It is a silvery colour with pale yellow to olive-coloured markings on its back and a dark (sometimes inconspicuous) stripe along the side of the body that extends from the tail to the snout. The fins are pale and without pigmentation. This species has large eyes and a very small, upturned mouth. It is very similar in appearance to several other species of shiners that are found in Ontario.


In North America, the Pugnose Shiner is found in several tributaries of the upper Mississippi River, in the upper Red River drainage and in the Great Lakes drainage.

In Canada, the Pugnose Shiner is found only at a few sites in southern Ontario, including the Teeswater River, the old Ausable Channel, the Trent River and a few coastal wetlands in Lake St. Clair (and some tributaries), Lake Erie, lower Lake Huron, Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River. The population sizes at these sites are unknown.


The Pugnose Shiner is found in lakes and calm areas of rivers and creeks having clear water and bottoms of sand, mud or organic matter. It prefers water bodies with plenty of aquatic vegetation, particularly stonewort (Chara sp.). Aquatic plants provide hiding places, food, and breeding habitat. The Pugnose Shiner eats aquatic plants, green algae, plankton and some aquatic insects.


The main threat to the Pugnose Shiner is habitat degradation, including the alteration and destruction of wetlands and increased erosion from shoreline development. Waterbodies where this fish currently lives are becoming less suitable due to soil washing into the water from nearby urban and agricultural development. Invasive species, such as Eurasian Watermilfoil, are also a concern in some areas.


The Pugnose Shiner 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 Shiner

  • The Ministry of Natural Resources tracks species at risk such as the Pugnose 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).
  • 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.
  • Private land owners have a very important role to play in species at risk recovery. If you find a Pugnose Shiner in a watercourse on or adjacent to your property, you may be eligible for stewardship programs that support the protection and recovery of species at risk and their habitats. For more information, visit: ontario.ca/speciesatrisk.
  • Farmers and 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.
  • Volunteer with your local nature club or provincial park to participate in surveys or stewardship work focused on species at risk.

Did you know?

The Pugnose Shiner is one of the rarest minnows in eastern North America.

Did you know?

The Pugnose Shiner has a very small mouth. Its scientific name “anogenus” is a Greek word that means ‘without a chin’.

Did you know?

This fish is very timid and will retreat to hiding places in underwater vegetation when frightened.

Did you know?

The Pugnose Shiner and the Pugnose Minnow are often thought to be the same species, but in fact are two distinct species, both are considered species at risk, both provincially and federally.

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.