15 Fin-tastic Facts About Arkansas River Shiner For Kids

Arkansas River shiner facts are about a fish native to the United States.

The Arkansas River shiner (Notropis girardi) is a fish belonging to the family Cyprinidae. The distribution of these fish covers extensive regions of the western parts of the Arkansas River Basin, including the rivers in the states of Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, and Kansas. However, the population range is now restricted to the south Canadian River, Cimarron River, and Pecos River, where it has been introduced. Arkansas River shiners are native to the central United States.

Arkansas River shiners are commonly found in the shallower parts of rivers, with sandy bottoms. These fish have a silvery appearance and are quite small in size. Their diet mainly consists of aquatic invertebrates, sand, silt, and detritus. As reported by the U.S. Fish And Wildlife Service, these fish are severely threatened due to a variety of causes. Hence, efforts have been made to conserve this species in the rivers. Critical habitat has been established to protect these shiners from further decline. However, better implementation of conservation laws and research is required to fully recover the population.

To learn more about these amazing shiners, keep reading! You can also check out rainbow shiner facts and silver shiner facts.

Arkansas River Shiner

Fact File

What do they prey on?

Aquatic invertebrates

What do they eat?


Average litter size?

120-274 eggs

How much do they weigh?


How long are they?

2 in (5 cm)

How tall are they?


What do they look like?

Tan and silvery with dark blotches

Skin Type

Wet and slimy scales

What are their main threats?


What is their conservation status?


Where you'll find them

Streams, sandy bottoms of rivers, creeks


Initially widespread in the Arkansas River Basin, now restricted to the Canadian River and Pecos River





Scientific Name

Notropis girardi





Arkansas River Shiner Interesting Facts

What type of animal is an Arkansas River shiner?

The Arkansas River Shiner is a fish belonging to the family of Cyprinidae. This family is also known as the carp or minnow family and has other members like the white cloud mountain minnow.

What class of animal does an Arkansas River shiner belong to?

This fish belongs to the class of Actinopterygii, which has other ray-finned fishes in it, like the channel catfish. Arkansas River shiners are part of the genus Notropis.

How many Arkansas River shiners are there in the world?

Unfortunately, the Arkansas River shiners seem to have a decreasing population trend according to the International Union For Conservation Of Nature (IUCN). The distribution of the North Arkansas River basin population of this species has declined drastically over the years, and much of their presence in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and New Mexico has been reduced. Though the exact population has not been estimated, as per records from the U.S. Fish And Wildlife Service, the population of these fish has reduced by 80%.

Where does an Arkansas River shiner live?

The Arkansas River shiner fish is endemic and native to the central region of the United States. The most notable range of the population of these fish was in the western parts of the Arkansas River basin, in the states of New Mexico, Texas, Kansas, and Oklahoma. However, this Arkansas River Basin population has declined considerably. Now, these fish are limited to the south Canadian River in Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Texas. A much smaller population may also be present in the Cimarron River. This species has also been introduced in the Pecos River of New Mexico.

What is an Arkansas River shiner's habitat?

The habitat of Arkansas River shiner fish is characterized by streams, sandy bottoms of rivers, and creeks. These fish are usually common in shallow waters and never found in deep waters with stone or mud. Arkansas River shiners are adapted to living in a variety of microhabitats and are found in different kinds of habitats throughout their life.

Who do Arkansas River shiners live with?

Arkansas River shiners have been noted in gatherings or schools in their natural habitat. They also come together for spawning events.

How long does an Arkansas River shiner live?

The lifespan of an Arkansas River Shiner is estimated to be less than three years in the wild.

How do they reproduce?

During the reproductive season which lasts from May to July, the female Arkansas River shiner lays between 120-274 eggs which drift with the current of the water and hatch within the next 24-48 hours.  These fish only spawn when the environmental conditions are favorable. The larvae that hatch out are capable of swimming in the next three to four days.

What is their conservation status?

The conservation status of the Arkansas River shiner has been marked as Vulnerable by the International Union For Conservation Of Nature (IUCN). These fish are threatened by several factors, some of which are reservoir construction, agricultural practices, degradation of water quality, and alteration of streamflow. The range of Arkansas River shiners has been negatively affected due to such man-made causes which have, in turn, led to great habitat loss for these fish and restricted their distribution to the south of the Canadian River.

Arkansas River Shiner Fun Facts

What do Arkansas River shiners look like?

The Arkansas River shiner is described as a generalist feeder.
*Please note that this is an image of a rainbow shiner, not an Arkansas River shiner. If you have an image of an Arkansas River shiner, please let us know at

The Arkansas River shiner is a small fish with a dorsally flattened head. Their snout appears rounded with a mouth in the subterminal position. On the dorsal side of this species of fish, the scales appear to be light tan in color. Their sides are silvery like the silver dollar fish and they have a dark blotch present right at the base of their dorsal fin, while their belly region is white toned. The pelvic, dorsal, and anal fins in this fish species have eight rays each.

How cute are they?

This fish species look pretty cute, especially because of their small size. Their silvery appearance further adds to their charm.

How do they communicate?

The exact patterns of communication in the Arkansas River shiner species have not been studied. However, there is information about the methods of communication among the fish belonging to the genus Notropis, to which the Arkansas River shiner belongs. These fish have an enhanced auditory system that allows them to detect auditory signals. They also release a substance called Schreckstoff when they are injured or as a form of warning to other fish of their own or related species.

How big is an Arkansas River shiner?

The Arkansas River shiner fish is quite a small species. Usually, they grow up to 2 in (5 cm). Very rarely they can measure up to 2.5 in (6 cm). When compared to another species under the genus Notropis, known as the rainbow shiner, Arkansas River shiner appears smaller, as rainbow shiners can grow up to 3 in (8 cm).

How fast can an Arkansas River shiner swim?

The Arkansas River shiner fish are thought to be quick swimmers, even though their exact swimming speeds have not been ascertained. Another member of the genus Notropis, known as the Topeka shiner has sustained swimming speeds of 0.9-1.3 fps (0.3-0.4 mps). It can be assumed the Arkansas River shiner fish also displays similar speed while swimming.

How much does an Arkansas River shiner weigh?

The weight of the Arkansas River shiner fish is not known. However, given their small size, it can be estimated that they are quite light in weight.

What are the male and female names of the species?

They have no sex-specific names.

What would you call a baby Arkansas River shiner?

Baby Arkansas River shiners are known as fry.

What do they eat?

Their diet includes aquatic invertebrates, sand, silt, and detritus. This species of fish are more of generalist feeders and no aquatic invertebrate occupies a major portion of their diet. During the winter season, they are known to consume larval flies in greater proportions. The fish of this species in the Pecos River rely on mayflies, insects eggs, seeds, and so on, to form a major part of their diet.

Are they dangerous?

These fish are not considered to be dangerous and do not cause harm to humans or their habitat.

Would they make a good pet?

Arkansas River shiners are not commonly seen as pets. Given their conservation status, it is best to let these fish occupy their natural habitat.

Did you know...

Arkansas River shiners are very similar to the Red River shiners. However, both can be differentiated as the breast and nape of Arkansas River shiners is fully scaled and they are usually seen with eight anal rays and 14 pectoral rays.

As these fish are listed as Vulnerable, they are at risk of being Endangered in the near future.

How many eggs do Arkansas River shiners lay?

This shiner species lays between 120-274 eggs, though some of the larger female Arkansas River shiners can lay up to 400 eggs. The spawning usually takes place in the month of July. However, their reproductive period starts from May and is characterized by several spawning events. The spawning in this species is in sync with the flood flows in their habitat after heavy rainfall.

Do Arkansas River shiners eat algae?

Arkansas River shiners eat quite a few things, with plant materials making up 6% of their diet. Even though in comparison to other shiner species, the Arkansas River shiner is not that commonly observed to feed on algae, the population of these fish in the Canadian River was found to have algae in their diet.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other fish from our smelt facts and brook trout facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable intricate fish coloring pages.



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