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Skygazer

SKYGAZER SHINER

SCIENTIFIC NAME: Notropis uranoscopus

Characteristics: This slender species has a long, pointed snout, a flattened head, and elliptical eyes shifted dorsally to the top of the head. A characteristic wedge-shaped, small spot marks the base of the caudal fin, and two dark crescents are between the nostrils. The lateral band is more heavily pigmented on the caudal peduncle and becomes diffuse and dusky anteriorly; each lateral line pore has paired spots. The species is straw colored along the back and upper sides, becoming silvery and white on the venter. Fins are colorless, and no vivid breeding colors develop. Notropis uranoscopus belongs to a closely related group that includes the palezone shiner, N. albizonatus; swallowtail shiner, N. procne; and Chihuahua shiner, N. chihuahua (Warren et al., 1994).

 ADULT SIZE: 1.8 to 2.2 in (45 to 55 mm)

DISTRIBUTION: Notropis uranoscopus is endemic to the Mobile River basin. It is found below the Fall Line in the Cahaba River, lower Alabama River, lower Tallapoosa River, and Uphapee Creek systems. A new record not depicted on the distribution map was recently collected in the Coosa River above the Fall Line near Wetumpka.

HABITAT AND BIOLOGY: This species is found along sand and gravel shoals in large rivers and streams having moderate to fast current. Indeed, it appears to require this habitat for its survival. Individuals are often encountered in moderate current over gravel shoals from 1 to 3 feet deep; they seem to avoid deeper habitats and areas of soft bottom. The skygazer shiner is one of the dominant cyprinids in the Tallapoosa River below the Fall Line. Spawning occurs from April to June.

REMARKS: The type locality of N. uranoscopus is the Cahaba River near Centreville, Bibb County, Alabama.

ORIGINAL DESCRIPTION: Suttkus described the skygazer shiner in 1959.

ETYMOLOGY:
Notropis means keeled back.
Uranoscopus means sky watcher, referring to this species’ upturned eyes.

The copyrighted information above is from Fishes of Alabama and the Mobile Basin.

Note: In Alabama, it is illegal to stock or move any fish, mussel, snail or crayfish to any public water without a permit.

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