SCIENTIFIC NAME: Notropis buchanani
CHARACTERISTICS: The ghost shiner is pale and has a deep, somewhat slab-sided body. Its arched back tapers to a small head, which has a small, slightly oblique mouth. Sensory canals under the eye are lacking or are reduced, while the dorsal fin is very high and pointed. Notropis buchanani is easily confused with the mimic shiner, N. volucellus, and channel shiner, N. wickliffi, which have more rounded body forms, complete sensory canals, and more pigment on their bodies. Also, the tips of the pelvic fins extend almost to the anal fin on N. buchanani, unlike those on volucellus and wickliffi.
ADULT SIZE: 1 to 2 in. (25 to 50 mm)
DISTRIBUTION: Notropis buchanani is distributed from the Rio Grande basin east to the Mississippi basin and north to Minnesota. In Alabama this species is restricted to the Tennessee River drainage, with collection limited to stream mouths along the river. Historic localities for this species in Alabama came from 1937 and 1938 collections by the Tennessee Valley Authority prior to impoundment of these streams. Few recent collections have been taken in Alabama, although during the 1990s TVA biologists reported the ghost shiner from the impounded reaches of several large tributaries, including Second Creek, Lauderdale County, and the Elk River.
HABITAT AND BIOLOGY: The ghost shiner inhabits large sluggish rivers, streams, and impoundments, preferring sloughs and backwaters. Little is known of its biology, but like most minnows, it probably eats stream drift composed of terrestrial and aquatic insects and plant material. Spawning has been reported to occur from late April to August in several states. Trautman (1981) indicates that ghost shiners definitely seek clean, quiet waters with the clean sand and gravel bottoms usually associated with aquatic plants. In contrast, Smith (1979) reports that ghost shiners are common in turbid waters over a bottom of silt and detritus, noting abundant populations in polluted reaches of the Illinois and Kaskaskia rivers.
ORIGINAL DESCRIPTION: The ghost shiner was described by Meek in 1896.
Notropis means keeled back.
Buchanani means in honor of J. L. Buchanan, former president of Arkansas Industrial University.
The copyrighted information above is from Fishes of Alabama and the Mobile Basin.