Picture by Chad Thomas, Texas State University-San Marcos



Notropis braytoni

Tamaulipas shiner



Type Locality

Rio Monterrey (tributary to Rio San Juan), Cadereyta, Nuevo Leon, Mexico (Jordan and Evermann 1896; Gilbert 1980).


Etymology/Derivation of Scientific Name

Notropis – ridged or keeled back; a misnomer, probably due to the shrunken specimen used by Rafinesque when establishing this genus for N. atherinoides; braytoni – in honor of A.M. Brayton, who traveled with Jordan and Evermann in Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina (Scharpf 2005).



Notropis braytoni (substitute for Moniana nitida Girard, preoccupied) Jordan and Evermann 1896:253.



Maximum size: 76 mm (3.00 in) TL (Heard 2008).


Coloration: Dusky stripe along side from opercle  to caudal peduncle, followed by clear area, then small black wedge on caudal fin base. Straw-colored above; scales above dusky stripe along side darkly outlined, creating cross-hatched appearance; often a dusky middorsal stripe along back. Silver sides; white below; clear fins (Page and Burr 1991). Lateral stripe of scattered melanophores; lateral stripe solid, not composed of a series of doubled dashes; dorsal fin base without distinct black dashes separated by a clear space when viewed from above; interradial membranes of dorsal fin without melanophores except along edges of rays (Hubbs et al. 1991).


Counts: Pharyngeal teeth 0,4-4,0 or 2,4-4,2 or 1,4-4,1 (Hubbs et al. 1991). Usually 7 anal fin soft rays; 32-39 lateral line scales; 15-16 pectoral soft fin rays (Hubbs et al. 1991; Page and Burr 1991).


Mouth position: Subterminal and horizontal (Hubbs et al. 1991).


Body shape: Body compressed, deepest at origin or in front of dorsal fin;


Morphology: Lateral line below lateral stripe between pectoral and pelvic fins; depressed dorsal fin shorter than head; last ray of dorsal fin much less than one-half the length of the longest; first obvious dorsal fin ray a thin splint, closely attached to the following well developed but unbranched ray; lower lip thin, without fleshy lobe; lateral line usually not decurved, either straight or with a broad arch; premaxillaries protractile; upper lip separated from skin of snout by a deep groove continuous across the midline (Hubbs et al. 1991).  Dorsal fin origin over pelvic fin origin (Page and Burr 1991). Distance from corner of mouth to posterior end of maxillary much less than distance from corner of mouth to tip of mandible; eyes larger, equal to or longer than snout and contained three and one-half or fewer times in head length; distance from origin of anal fin to end of caudal peduncle contained two and one-half or fewer times in distance from tip of snout to origin of anal fin (Hubbs et al. 1991).  Intestine short, forming simple S-shaped loop (Hubbs et al. 1991).


Distribution (Native and Introduced)

Mexico distribution: Endemic to Rio Grande and Rio Conchos drainages (Gilbert 1980; Hubbs et al. 1991; Heard 2008); range includes Mexican states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo Leon, and Tamaulipas (Contreras-Balderas et al. 2003; Heard 2008).


Texas distribution: Restricted to the Rio Grande basin in Texas; also occurs in the lower Pecos River (Robinson 1959; Miller 1974; Gilbert 1980; Hubbs et al. 1991).


[Additional literature noting collection of this species from Texas locations includes, but is not limited to the following: Edwards and Contreras-Balderas (1991); Huber and Rylander (1992); Rhodes and Hubbs (1992).]


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

Listed as imperiled by the Texas Parks and Wildlife (TPWD 2005), and as threatened by Mexico (Contreras-Balderas et al. 2003; Heard 2008). Once common throughout historical range in the Rio Grande (Robinson 1959), but has apparently declined substantially in abundance (Hubbs et al. 1991). Recent collections indicative of increased abundance in the Big Bend reach of the Rio Grande and a decline below Amistad reservoir (Heard 2008). Platania (1990) reported that this species comprised only 0.135% of the assemblage in collections from Maverick Co. through Zapata Co., Texas; quarterly samples taken in 2007 from the same stretch of river produced only one specimen, which was collected at Larado (Heard 2008). Collections in the Big Bend region of the Rio Grande from 1977 – 2006 indicated that relative abundance has increased from 3.2% to 35% (Hubbs et al. 1977; Edwards 2005; Heard 2008). Continued monitoring of water quantity and quality from the Rio Conchos basin, as well as the preservation of suitable habitat in Big Bend Ranch State Park, Big Bend National Park, and Black Gap Wildlife Management are important to the conservation of this species (Heard 2008).


Habitat Associations

Macrohabitat: Rivers, large creeks (Gilbert 1980).


Mesohabitat: Specimens from Big Bend National Park, most often associated with a variety of different habitats such as runs and gravel/cobble riffles (Heard 2008). Found mid-water to bottom, over gravel, in cool, moving waters (Contreras-Balderas 1974). Typically found in large, rivers or large creeks with rubble, gravel and sand bottom, often overlain with silt(Gilbert 1980).



Spawning season: Elevated gonadsomatic indices (GSI) were recorded from February through August (Heard 2008).


Spawning habitat: Hubbs and Wauer (1973) suggested that N. braytoni laid eggs in the river (Rio Grande), and some young moved to the creek (Tornillo Creek) nursery area; fish <20 mm (0.79 in) SL were present in August and September collections.


Spawning Behavior: No information at this time.


Fecundity:  No information at this time.


Age at maturation: No information at this time.


Migration: No information at this time.


Growth and Population structure:  No information at this time.


Longevity: No information at this time.


Food habits: Diet consists primarily of aquatic insects (66%), the most abundant being mayflies (Heard 2008). Insectivorous (Contreras-Balderas 1974).


Phylogeny and morphologically similar fishes

Within its range, N. braytoni is most similar to the phantom shiner (N. orca), which has smaller eyes, usually 8 anal fins rays, pharyngeal teeth  are 2,4-4,2; is more pallid, with only a faint stripe along side (Page and Burr 1991).


Host Records

The exotic and invasive Asian fish tapeworm, Bothriocephalus acheilognathi (Bean et al. 2007).


Commercial or Environmental Importance

Species is threatened by habitat alteration, water depletion, and introduction of non-native fish (Contreras-Balderas 1974; Contreras-Balderas et al. 2002; Edwards et al. 2002; Contreras-Balderas et al. 2003; Heard 2008).




Bean, M.G., A. Skerikova, T.H. Bonner, T. Scholz, and D.G. Huffman. 2007. First record of Bothriocephalus acheilognathi in the Rio Grande with comparative analysis of ITS2 and V4-18S rRNA gene sequences. Journal of Aquatic Animal Health 19:71-76.

Contreras-Balderas, S. 1974. Speciation aspects and man-made community composition changes in Chihuahuan Desert fishes. In: Wauer, R.H., and D.H. Riskind (eds.). Transactions of the Symposium on the Biological Resources of the Chihuahuan Desert Rigion United States and Mexico. U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service Transactions and Proceedings Series (3):405-431.

Contreras-Balderas, S., P. Almada-Villela, M. Lozano-Vilano, and M. Garcia-Ramirez. 2003. Freshwater fish at risk or extinct in Mexico. Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries 12:241-251.

Contreras-Balderas, S., R.J. Edwards, M. Lozano-Vilano, and M. Garcia-Ramirez. 2002. Fish biodiversity changes in the lower Rio Grande/Rio Bravo, 1953-1996. Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries 12:219-240.

Edwards, R.J. 2005. Feasibility of reintroducing Rio Grande silvery minnows (Hybognathus amarus) to the Rio Grande, Big Bend Region, Texas. Final report to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 54 pp.

Edwards, R.J., and S. Contreras-Balderas. 1991. Historical changes in the ichthyofauna of the lower Rio Grande (Rio Bravo del Norte), Texas and Mexico. The Southwestern Naturalist 36(2):201-212.

Edwards, R.J., G.P. Garrett, and E. Marsh-Matthews. 2002. Conservation and status of the fish communities inhabiting the Rio Conchos basin and middle Rio Grande, Mexico and U.S.A. Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries 12:119-132.


Gilbert, C.R.  1980.  Notropis braytoni (Jordan and Evermann), Tamaulipas shiner.  p. 241.  In: D. S. Lee, C. R. Gilbert, C. H. Hocutt, R. E. Jenkins, D. E. McAllister & J. R. Stauffer, Jr. (eds.), Atlas of North American freshwater fishes, North Carolina State Museum of Natural History, Raleigh, 854 pp.

Heard, T. 2008. Master of Science Thesis. Texas State University – San Marcos. San Marcos, Texas.

Hubbs, C., and R. Wauer. 1973. Seasonal changes in the fish fauna of Tornillo Creek, Brewster County, Texas. The Southwestern Naturalist 17(4):375-379.

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

Hubbs, C. R.R. Miller, R.J. Edwards, K.W Thompson, E. Marsh, G.P. Garrett, G.L. Powell, D.J. Morris, and R.W. Zerr. 1977. Fishes inhabiting the Rio Grande, Texas and Mexico, between El Paso and the Pecos confluence. In: Johnson, R.R., and D.A. Jones (eds.). Importance, Preservation and Management of Riparian Habitat: A symposium. USDA Forest Service, General Tech. Report, RM-43:91-97.

Huber, R., and M.K. Rylander. 1992. Brain morphology and turbidity preference in Notropis and related genera (Cyprinidae, Teleostei). Environmental Biology of Fishes 33:153-165.

Jordan, D.S., and B.W. Evermann  1896. The Fishes of North and Middle America. Bull. U.S. Natl. Mus. 47(Pt.1):1-1240.

Miller, R.R. 1974. Composition and derivation of the native fish fauna of the Chihuahuan Desert region. In: Wauer, R.H., and D.H. Riskind (eds.). Transactions of the Symposium on the Biological Resources of the Chihuahuan Desert Rigion United States and Mexico. U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service Transactions and Proceedings Series (3):365-381.


Page, L. M. & B. M. Burr.  1991.  A field guide to freshwater fishes of North America north of Mexico.  Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, Massachusetts. 432 pp.


Platania, S.P. 1990. The ichthyofauna of the Rio Grande drainage, Texas and Mexico, from Boquillas to San Ygnacio. Report to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 100 pp.


Rhodes, K., and C. Hubbs. 1992. Recovery of Pecos River fishes from a red tide fish kill. The Southwestern Naturalist 37(2):178-187.


Robinson, D.T. 1959. The ichthyofauna of the lower Rio Grande, Texas and Mexico. Copeia 1959(3):253-256.

Scharpf, C. 2005. Annotated checklist of North American freshwater fishes, including subspecies and undescribed forms, Part 1: Petromyzontidae through Cyprinidae. American Currents, Special Publication 31(4):1-44.

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. 2005. Texas Comprehensive Wildlife Comprehensive Strategy. Austin, Texas. 1116 pp.