Picture by Chad Thomas, Texas State University-San Marcos



Notropis atrocaudalis

blackspot shiner



Type Locality

Neches River, 22.5 km east of Palestine, Anderson Co., TX (at Palestine and Rusk railroad bridge; Evermann 1892).


Etymology/Derivation of Scientific Name

Notropis, Greek, meaning “back keel” (Pflieger 1997).  Atro meaning black or dark, caudalis meaning tail; reference to black pigments forming a distinct spot near the caudal fin. 



No information at this time.



Maximum size: 88 mm (3.46 in) TL (P. Bean, C. Williams, T. Bonner, unpublished data).


Coloration:  Thin and distinct dark mid-lateral stripe extending from snout to caudal fin; caudal spot is rectangular and separate from mid-lateral stripe (Miller and Robison 1973).  Scales above mid-lateral stripe outlined in dark pigments, forming faint horizontal dorsal stripes, scales below mid-lateral stripe and abdomen usually without pigments (Robison and Buchanan 1988).  Paired dark pigments along lateral line obscured by mid-lateral stripe; in live specimens at times, paired dark pigments along lateral line are more distinct than mid-lateral stripe. 


Pharyngeal teeth count: 0,4-4,0; 1 or 2,4-4,2 or 1 (Hubbs et al. 1991).


Count: Usually 7 anal soft fin rays (Hubbs et al. 1991); 35 – 40 lateral line scales.


Body shape: Thick, rounded body.


Mouth position: Subterminal and slightly oblique.


Morphology: Relatively large scales. Intestine short, forming simple S-shaped loop (Hubbs et al. 1991).


Distribution (Native and Introduced)

U.S. distribution:  Red River drainage in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas, and gulf slope drainages from Calcasieu River drainage in Louisiana to Brazos River in Texas (Gilbert 1980).


Texas distribution:  Tributaries from the lower Brazos River to the Sabine River drainage (Hubbs et al. 1991). Warren et al. (2000) listed the following drainage units for distribution of N. atrocaudalis in the state: Red River (from the mouth upstream to and including the Kiamichi River), Sabine Lake (including minor coastal drainages west to Galveston Bay), Galveston Bay (including minor coastal drainages west to mouth of Brazos River), and Brazos River.


Abundance/Conservation status (Federal, State, Non-governmental organizations)

Considered stable by Warren et al. (2000), but listed as imperiled or potentially imperiled (Bender et al. [eds.] 2005). 

Can be locally abundant in some areas and as high as 23% in relative abundance (Williams 2003).


Habitat Associations

Macrohabitat: Small to moderate size tributary streams (Gilbert 1980). Usually more abundant near headwaters; Evans and Noble (1979) reported high relative abundance of N. atrocaudalis in headwater of Big Sandy Creek, Texas, while numbers decreased downstream. 11 specimens were collected from 4 sites at Village Creek, a backwater stream of the Gulf coastal plain in east TX (Moriarty and Winemiller 1997). Species classified as a fluvial specialist (Herbert and Gelwick 2003). Zueg et al. (2005) reported collection of a single specimen in a deep and rarely connected oxbow of the Brazos River, Texas.


Mesohabitat:  In runs and pools over all types of substrates, generally avoiding areas of backwater and swiftest currents.  In Banita Creek, TX, N. atrocaudalis were found at average depths ranging from 190-290 mm (7.48-11.4 in), and mean current velocities ranging from 0.13 to 0.30 m/s (0.42-0.98 ft/s) (Bean et al., unpublished data).  In gulf coastal areas of Texas, species most commonly occurs in small seepage-fed hill streams with sandy bottoms, where it is closely associated with goldstripe darters  (Etheostoma parvipinne) (John Van Conner, personnal communication in: Echelle and Schnell 1976). In Arkansas, collected from a spring-fed stream over mud and sand substrate (Robison and Buchanan 1988).



Spawning season:  April through June; developing ovaries found in March and in July (Bean et al., unpublished data).


Spawning habitat:  Likely open water (Bean et al., unpublished data)


Reproductive strategy:  Likely pelagophils, broadcast spawning eggs; oocyte diameters with multiple modes, indicating batch spawning throughout the spawning season (Bean et al., unpublished data)


Fecundity:  Maximum mean average during spawning season is 522 vitellogenic oocytes for one ovary (1,044 total; in April from 13 mature females) (Bean et al., unpublished data)


Age at maturation:  Age-1, but possibly as earlier as age-0 based on collection of two females 47 and 48 mm (1.85 and 1.89 in) TL with developing ovaries in July (Bean et al., unpublished data).


Migration:  Evidence of movement between juvenile fish from downstream sites to upstream sites in 15 km (9.3 mi) stretch of Banita Creek, TX (Bean et al., unpublished data).


Growth and population structure:  Three age-groups; maximum total length was 56 mm (2.17 in) for age-0 fish, 78 mm (3.07 in) for age-1 fish, and 88 mm (3.46 in) for age-2 fish (Bean et al., unpublished data)


Longevity: Two years.


Food habits:  Primarily invertivore, consuming aquatic insects.  Opportunistically will consume other organisms, both aquatic and terrestrial; large amounts of substrate in stomach suggest benthic feeding at times (Bean et al., unpublished data).


Phylogeny and morphologically similar fishes

No information at this time.


Host Records

No information at this time.


Commercial or Environmental Importance

No information at this time.



Bean, P.T., C.S. Williams, and T.H. Bonner.  Texas State University.  Unpublished data. 

Bender, S., S. Shelton. K.C. Bender, A. Kalmbach (eds.). 2005. Texas Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy, 2005-2010.  Texas Parks and Wildlife, Austin. 

Echelle, A.A., and G.D. Schnell. 1976. Factor analysis of species associations among fishes of the Kiamichi River, Oklahoma. Trans. Amer. Fish. Soc. 105(1):17-31.

Evans, J.W., and R.L. Noble. 1979. The Longitudinal distribution of fishes in an East Texas stream. American Midland Naturalist 101(2):333-343.

Evermann, B.W. 1892. A report upon investigations made in Texas in 1891. Bull. U.S. Fish Comm. 11:61-90.

Gilbert, C.R. 1980. Notropis atrocaudalis (Evermann), Blackspot shiner. pp.234 in D.S. Lee et al. Atlas of North American Freshwater Fishes. N.C. State Mus. Nat. Hist., Raleigh, i-r+854 pp.

Herbert, M.E., and F.P. Gelwick. 2003. Spatial variation of headwater fish assemblages explained by hydrologic variability and upstream effects of impoundment. Copeia 2003(2):273-284.

Hubbs, C., R.J. Edwards and G.P. Garret. 1991. An annotated checklist of freshwater fishes of Texas, with key to identification of species. Texas Journal of Science, Supplement 43(4):1-56.

Miller, R.J. and H.W. Robison. 1973. The Fishes of Oklahoma. Oklahoma State University Press, Stillwater. 246 pp.

Moriarty, L.J. and K.O. Winemiller. 1997. Spatial and temporal variation in fish assemblage structure in Village Creek, Hardin County, Texas. Texas Journal of Science, Supplement 49(3):85-110.

Robison, H.W. and T.M. Buchanan. 1988. Fishes of Arkansas. The University of Arkansas Press, Fayetteville. 536 pp.

Warren, M.L., Jr., B.M. Burr, S.J. Walsh, H.L. Bart, Jr., R.C. Cashner, D.A. Etnier, B.J. Freeman, B.R. Kuhajda, R.L. Mayden, H.W. Robison, S.T. Ross, and W.C. Starnes. 2000. Diversity, Distribution, and Conservation status of the native freshwater fishes of the southern United States. Fisheries, Conservation. 25(10):7-29.

Williams, C.S. 2003. Cyprinid assemblage structure along physical, longitudinal, and seasonal gradients and life history and reproductive ecology of the Sabine shiner. M.S. Thesis, Texas State University – San Marcos, Texas.

Zueg, S.C., K.O. Winemiller, and S. Tarim. 2005. Response of Brazos River oxbow fish assemblages to patterns of hydrologic connectivity and environmental variability. Trans. Amer. Fish. Soc. 134:1389-1399.