SCIENTIFIC NAME: Pteronotropis welaka
CHARACTERISTICS: The spectacular colors exhibited by male bluenose shiners in breeding condition place them among the most beautiful minnows in North America. As the common name indicates, breeding males have bright blue snouts. The extremely enlarged dorsal, pelvic, and anal fins are also colorful. The dorsal fin is suffused with black pigment, while the pelvic and anal fins are yellow with a black diagonal band. A dark lateral band extends from the chin to the tail, where it expands into a large caudal spot extending to the tip of the caudal fin rays. A light yellow to amber stripe occurs above the lateral band. Life color is typically olive on the back (down to the lateral band) and whitish on the venter. Scales on the sides of breeding males are highlighted with bright, silvery pigment spots. In all adults, the body is slender, the head small, and the snout pointed.
ADULT SIZE: 1.6 to 2.2 in (40 to 55 mm)
DISTRIBUTION: The bluenose shiner is found in Gulf slope drainages from the Pearl River east to the Apalachicola basin, with isolated populations in the St. Johns basin in Florida. In Alabama its distribution is spotty, being limited to isolated localities throughout the Coastal Plain. This uneven distribution is most likely a collecting artifact arising from the fact that sampling in this species" preferred habitat is difficult.
HABITAT AND BIOLOGY: Bluenose shiners usually inhabit quiet backwaters and vegetated pools of streams and rivers. These pools generally have bottoms of mud or sand, with abundant growths of golden club and other aquatic vegetation. Cook (1959) describes this species' habitat as "weedy streams with beds of deep, dark, fetid mire, supporting such aquatics as broad leaf Saggittaria, submerged and floating Potamogeton, and Utricularia." We cannot improve on this description except to add that we have found breeding individuals to be more common deep within vegetation mats and small individuals to be more common on the periphery. Little is known about the life history of the bluenose shiner, but brightly colored males have been collected in April and June, and spawning presumably occurs from May to June. The diet is unknown, but it probably consists of small crustaceans, aquatic and terrestrial insects, and plant material.
ORIGINAL DESCRIPTION: The bluenose shiner was described by Evermann and Kendall in 1898.
Pteronotropis means winged keeled back, referring to the enlarged dorsal fin of breeding males.
Welaka means the type locality, St. Johns River near Welaka, Florida.
The copyrighted information above is from Fishes of Alabama and the Mobile Basin.