Picture by Chad Thomas, Texas State University-San Marcos



Notropis buccula

smalleye shiner



Type Locality

Brazos River, ca. 11.3 km s of Mineral Wells, at U.S. hwy. 281, Palo Pinto Co., Texas (Cross 1953).


Etymology/Derivation of Scientific Name

Notropis”, meaning ridged or keeled back; “buccula”, meaning little mouth, referring to its size compared to close relative, N. bairdi (Red River shiner; Cross 1953; Scharpf 2005).



Notropis bairdi buccula Cross 1953:252.

Notropis buccula Hubbs 1957; Bailey et al. 1960; Bailey et al. 1970.

(Gilbert 1980).



Maximum size: Up to 83 mm (3.27 in) SL (Durham 2007)


Coloration: Straw color with black pigments outlining dorsal scales, especially posterior to dorsal fin. Distinct pigments forming a dash at base of dorsal fin.  Midlateral pigments are paired anteriorly. Scattered pigment on nape. Ventral and abdomen areas white and without pigment. Sometimes with a faint caudal spot. 


Pharyngeal teeth count: 0,4-4,0 (Cross 1953; Hubbs et al. 1991).


Counts: Lateral line scales 33-37; dorsal fin soft rays 8; caudal fin soft rays 19; pelvic fin soft rays 8; pectoral fin soft rays 14-16, usually 15 (Cross 1953); usually 7 anal fin soft rays (Hubbs et al. 1991).


Body shape: Dorsally arched and ventrally flattened. 


Mouth position: Horizontal and slightly subterminal.


Morphology: Squamation of nape and breast incomplete (Cross 1953); snout length greater than distance from anterior tip of mandible to posterior tip of maxillary; head depth 15.9 to 17.7 percent of standard length; opercle length 8.0 to 9.6 percent of standard length; eye small, contained about four times in body depth (measured over curve; Hubbs et al. 1991).  Intestine short, forming a simple S-shaped loop (Hubbs et al. 1991).


Distribution (Native and Introduced)

U.S. distribution:  Found only in Texas.


Texas distribution: Endemic to the Brazos River drainage; presumed to have been introduced into the Colorado River (Hubbs et al 1991).  Warren et al. (2000) listed the following drainage unit for distribution of N. buccula in the state: Brazos River. Historically found in lower Brazos River as far south as Hempstead (TX). 


[Additional literature noting collection of this species from Texas locations includes, but is not limited to the following: Hubbs (1957); Marks (1999); Ostrand and Wilde (2002).]


Abundance/Conservation status (Federal, State, NGO):

Endangered (Warren et al. 2000); Threatened (Hubbs et al. 1991).  Considered a candidate for listing by USFWS.  Mean relative abundance was 3% from 1940 through 1969 in the lower Brazos River (downstream of Waco, TX).  Last verifiable collection in the lower Brazos River was made in 1986 by Dr. Hubbs near Hempstead (TX).  Populations likely extirpated in the middle Brazos River (Possum Kingdom Reservoir to Waco, TX) and appear stable in the upper Brazos River.  Ostrand and Wilde (2004) reported N. buccula to be one of the seven fish species that dominated 1997-1998 collections from isolated pools in the upper Brazos River, representing 18.5% of the total number of fish collected.


Habitat Associations

Macrohabitat:  Mainstem river, sometimes entering smaller tributaries. 


Mesohabitat:  Common in river channels or periphery of channels in water with moderate depth and current velocities.  Substrate usually sand or silt (Moss and Mayes 1993).  Typically found in turbid waters of broad, sandy channels of main stream, over substrate consisting mostly of shifting sand (Gilbert 1980; Page and Burr 1991). Can survive in isolated pools for a period of time (Durham 2007). Species has high thermal, low dissolved oxygen, and high salinity tolerances: average critical thermal maxima 40.6 ± 0.4°C (105.1°F); salinity tolerance 18 ± 2.52‰; minimum dissolved oxygen tolerance 2.11 ± 0.08 mg/L (Ostrand and Wilde 2001).



Spawning season:  April through September with multiple peaks in gonadosomatic index; developing ovaries as early as February; spent ovaries from June through July (Durham 2007).   


Spawning habitat:  Thought to be open water.


Reproductive strategy:  Likely open substrate pelgophil producing semi-buoyant eggs.  Batch spawner, producing multiple cohorts within a spawning season; population usually asynchronously egg production, but might also synchronously spawn during pulse flows (Durham 2007). 


Fecundity:  Range from 36 to 4,084 vitellogenic oocytes per female; mean number ranged from 600 to 804 vitellogenic oocytes per female, but underestimating annual fecundity because of batch spawning; maximum gonadosomatic index is 26% for females and 2.95% for males; maximum oocyte diameter is 1.2 mm (0.047 in) (Durham 2007). 


Age at maturation:  Thought to be age 1.


Migration: Not thought to be substantial (Durham 2007).


Growth and Population Structure:  Occurrence of age-0 fish by the end of May. 


Longevity:  Usually up to age 1, some surviving up to age 2 (Durham 2007).


Food habits:  Opportunistic invertivore consuming aquatic insects, primarily dipterans, terrestrial insects, detritus, and plant material (Moss and Mayes 1993; Marks et al. 2001).


Phylogeny and morphologically similar fishes

Closely related to, the Red River shiner (Notropis bairdi) found only in the adjacent Red River drainage; Gilbert 1980); N. buccula differs from N. bairdi in that it has a longer snout, a smaller mouth, and a lesser head depth (Cross 1953). N. buccula is similar to Arkansas River shiner (N. girardi), but the latter species has fully scaled breast and nape; usually 8 anal rays, 14 pectoral rays; larger and more falcate fins (Page and Burr 1991).


Host Records

No information at this time.


Commercial or Environmental Importance

According to Matthews and Zimmerman (1990), this species is potentially vulnerable to extinction in the event of global warming. After impoundment of an intermittent Texas stream (Brazos River), Wilde and Ostrand (1999) reported decreased distribution of N. buccula upstream of the impoundment, and predicted eventual extirpation of the species at this location.



Bailey, R.M., E.A. Lachner, C.C. Lindsey, C.R. Robins, P.M. Roedel, W.B. Scott, and L.P. Woods. 1960. Common and Scientific Names of Fishes from the United States and Canada, 2nd Edition. Amer. Fish. Soc. Spec. Publ. 2:1-102.

Bailey, R.M., E.S. Herald, E.A. Lachner, C.C. Lindsey, C.R. Robbins, and W.B. Scott. 1970. A List of Common and Scientific Names of Fishes from the United States and Canada, 3rd Edition. Amer. Fish. Soc. Spec. Publ. 6:1-150.

Cross, F.B. 1953. A new minnow, Notropis bairdi buccula, from the Brazos River, Texas. Texas Journal of Science 1953(2):252-259.

Durham, B.W. 2007.  Reproductive ecology, habitat associations, and populaton dynamics of two imperiled cyprinids in a great plains river.  Ph.D. Dissertation, Texas Tech University, Lubbock.

Gilbert, C.R. 1980.  Notropis buccula (Cross), Smalleye shiner.  pp. 242 in D. S. Lee et al., Atlas of North American Freshwater Fishes. N. C. State Mus. Nat. Hist., Raleigh, i-r+854 pp.

Hubbs, C. 1957. A checklist of Texas fresh-water fishes. Texas Game and Fish Commission, Inland Fisheries Series 3:1-11.

Hubbs, C. 1957. Distributional patterns of Texas fresh-water fishes. The Southwestern Naturalist 2(2/3):89-104.

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

Marks, D.E. 1999. Life history characteristics of the sharpnose shiner (Notropis oxyrhynchus) and the smalleye shiner (Notropis buccula) in the Brazos River, Texas. M.S. Thesis. Texas Tech University. 87 pp.

Marks, D.E., G.R. Wilde, K.G. Ostrand and P.J. Zwank. 2001. Foods of the smalleye shiner and sharpnose shiner in the upper Brazos River, Texas. Texas Journal of Science. 53(4): 327-334.

Matthews, W.J., and E.G. Zimmerman. 1990. Potential effects of global warming on native fishes of the Southern Great Plains and the Southwest. Fisheries 15(6):26-32.

Moss, R.W. and K.B. Mayes. 1993. Current status of Notropis buccula and Notropis oxyrhyncus in Texas. River studies report 8, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Austin, TX. 125 pp.

Ostrand, K.G., and G.R. Wilde. 2001. Temperature, dissolved oxygen, and salinity tolerance of five prairie stream fishes and their role in explaining fish assemblage patterns. Trans. Amer. Fish. Soc. 130:742-749.

Ostrand, K.G., and G.R. Wilde. 2002. Seasonal and spatial variation in a prairie stream-fish assemblage. Ecology of Freshwater Fish 11(3):137-149.

Ostrand, K.G., and G.R. Wilde. 2004. Changes in prairie stream fish assemblages restricted to isolated streambed pools. Trans. Amer. Fish. Soc. 133:1329-1338.

Page, L.M., and B.M. Burr. 1991. A Field Guide to Freshwater Fishes of North America, north of Mexico. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston. 432 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 25(10):7-29.


Wilde, G.R., and K.G. Ostrand. 1999. Changes in the fish assemblage of an intermittent stream upstream from a Texas impoundment. Texas Journal of Science 51:203-210.