Picture by Chad Thomas, Texas State University-San Marcos




Notropis potteri

chub shiner


Type Locality

Waco Creek, near Waco, McLennan Co., TX (Hubbs and Bonham 1951).


Etymology/Derivation of Scientific Name

      Named after the first collector, naturalist Dr. George E. Potter of Baylor University and Texas A&M University (Hubbs and Bonham 1951). 



      Common name was originally Potter’s minnow (Potter 1938:423). 



Maximum size:  110 mm (4.33 in) TL (Page and Burr 1991).


Life colors: Moderately dusky above and silvery below, with little pigment below the region of the lateral line.  Melanophores scattered evenly on upper parts of the head and body. Large melanophores dispersed about the lateral line anteriorly. Dark lateral band moderately developed on the caudal peduncle, ending just before the weak and diffuse basicaudal spot (Hubbs and Bonham 1951).


Pharyngeal teeth count: 2, 4-4, 2 or 1,4-4,1; pharyngeal teeth in lesser row stout (Hubbs and Bonham 1951; Hubbs et al. 1991).


Counts: 34-37 lateral line scales; dorsal fin soft rays 8 (7-8); anal fin soft rays 7 (6-8) (Hubbs and Bonham 1951;

Hubbs et al. 1991).


Body shape:  Moderately large, slim; broad head (Robison and Buchanan 1988).  .


Mouth position: Terminal and oblique; lower lip thin without a fleshy lobe (Hubbs et al. 1991). Middle part of lower lip and the posterior part of the upper lip are swollen (Hubbs and Bonham 1951). Large mouth with a mean (±SD) relative gape size (gape / total length) of 7.2% (±0.41) (J. Perkin et al., Texas State University, unpublished data).  


Morphology: Eye small, contained about four times in body depth, measured over curve (Hubbs et al. 1991).  Body depth contained four and one-quarter times in standard length; depth at occiput equal to or less than width at occiput.  Lateral line complete either straight or with a broad arch; premaxillaries protractile; upper lip separated from skin of snout by a deep groove continuous across the midline; 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). Rigid lateral projection of pectoral fins; adaptation for benthic habitats (Suttkus and Clemmer 1968).  Intestinal canal short, forming a simple S-shaped loop (Hubbs et al. 1991).


Distribution (Native and Introduced)

U.S. distribution:  Red, Muddy Boggy and Kiamichi rivers of Oklahoma (Hubbs and Bonham 1951, Pigg 1977, Miller 1979; Taylor et al. 1996); Red River of Arkansas (Robinson 1974); Mississippi River and Atchafalaya River in Louisiana (Douglas 1974; Schramm 2004; Suttkus and Clemmer 1968); several drainages in Texas (Gilbert 1980).


Texas distribution: Brazos River, Colorado River, San Jacinto River, Trinity Rivers, and Galveston Bay, Texas (Hubbs and Bonham 1951, Jurgens 1954, Blair et al. 1957, Conner 1977).  According to Hubbs et al. (1991), species ranges throughout the Brazos and Red basins; population also known from the San Jacinto Drainage near Conroe. Warren et al. (2000) listed the following drainage units for distribution of N. potteri in the state: Red River (from the mouth upstream to and including the Kiamichi River), Galveston Bay (including minor coastal drainages west to mouth of Brazos River), Brazos River, Colorado River.


Originally described as an endemic to the Brazos River drainage; populations elsewhere were introduced by bait bucket releases (Hubbs and Bonham 1951, Hall 1956). Others recognize Brazos River as location of origin but claim that N. potteri occurrence elsewhere is natural, disputing the bait bucket release explanation (Miller 1953, Suttkus and Clemmer 1968, Conner 1977).  Recent work by Perkin et al. (unpublished data) suggests that N. potteri should be considered native to drainages other than the Brazos River.  


[Additional literature noting collection of this species from Texas locations includes, but is not limited to the following: Riggs and Bonn (1959); Stevenson et al. (1974); Hubbs and Dean (1979); Winston (1995); Lienesch and Matthews (2000); Lienesch et al. (2000); Gido et al. (2002); Ostrand and Wilde (2002); Winemiller et al. (2004); Zeug et al. (2005).]


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

Currently stable (Warren et al. 2000), especially in the Red River downstream from Lake Texoma (Perkin et al., unpublished data).  Brazos River population is declining in the upper (G. Wilde, Texas Tech University, personal communication) and lower reaches (Runyan and Bonner 2007). Notropis potteri is susceptible to extirpation by damming (Winston et al. 1991).


Habitat Associations

Macrohabitat:  Large, turbid rivers (Gilbert 1980); also found in smaller tributaries (Hubbs and Bonham 1951).


Mesohabitat:  Found in flowing water with silt or sand substrate (Gilbert 1980; Perkin et al. unpublished data). Tolerant of high salinities (Taylor et al. 1993; Higgins and Wilde 2005); Echelle et al. (1972) reported collection of species at salinities ranging from 4.2-19.7 ppt.



Spawning season:  Males with mature testes from March through September; one sexually developing female found in May; one sexually mature female found in August (Perkin et al., unpublished data)


Spawning location: No information at this time.


Reproductive strategy: Likely a broadcast spawning pelagophil. 


Fecundity: Only sexually mature female 49 mm (1.93 in) TL captured from the Brazos River had 120 vitellogenic oocytes in left ovary (estimated 240 overall) (Perkin et al., unpublished data).


Age at maturation: Likely one year


Migration: No information at this time.


Growth and population structure:  Age 0 up to 45 mm (1.77 in); age 1 up to 70 mm (Perkin et al., unpublished data)


Longevity: Age 2 (Perkin et al., unpublished data)


Food habits: Invertivore and piscivore; gut contents of fish captured from Oklahoma and Louisiana consisted of 63% benthic invertebrates (by volume), 13% fish, 16% substrate particles (probably ingested accidentally), and 8% open water invertebrates (mostly Cladocera; Felly 1984).  Gut contents of fish captured from the lower Brazos River consisted of aquatic insects (40%) and fish (28%); Coleoptera and Tricoptera were most abundant aquatic insects; red shiners (Cyprinella lutrensis) and western mosquitofish (Gambusia affinis) were common fish prey (Perkin et al., unpublished data).


Phylogeny and morphologically similar fishes

Subgenus Alburnops. Similar species include the smalleye shiner (Notropis buccula), and the Red River shiner (N. bairdi), which differ from N. potteri in having black specks concentrated in patch on side, eye directed more to side than upwardly, shorter snout, pharyngeal teeth 0,4-4,0; and the river shiner (N. blennius) which has larger eye located more on side of head, duskier back and side, more pointed snout (Page and Burr 1991). See Hubbs and Bonham (1951) for further comparison with N. bairdi, and N. blennius. N. potteri differs from the Sabine shiner (N. sabinae) in that it is a much larger and coarser fish, with somewhat smaller and much less inferior and less horizontal mouth, and in the dental formula 2,4-4,2 (versus 0,4-4,0 or 1,4-4,1); differs from the Arkansas River shiner (N. girardi) in having 2,4-4,2 dental formula as opposed to 0,4-4,0 (Hubbs and Bonham 1951).


Host Records

 No information at this time.


Commercial or Environmental Importance

Species potentially vulnerable to extinction in the event of major global warming (of 3-4°C), and without population having avenue for northward dispersal (Matthews and Zimmerman 1990).




Conner, J.V. 1977. Zoogeography of freshwater fishes in western Gulf Slope drainages between the Mississippi and The Rio Grande.  Ph.D. Dissertation. Tulane University, New Orleans, LA.  269 pp.


Douglas, N.H. 1974. Freshwater Fishes of Louisiana. Claitor’s Publishing Division, Baton Rouge, Louisiana. 443 pp.


Echelle, A.A., A.F. Echelle, and L.G. Hill. 1972. Interspecific interactions and limiting factors of abundance and distribution in the Red River pupfish, Cyprinodon rubrofluviatilis. American Midland Naturalist 88(1):109-130.

Felley, J.D. 1984. Piscivorous habits of the chub shiner, Notropis potteri (Cyprinidae).  Southwestern Naturalist 29:495-496.

Gido, K.B., C.W. Hargrave, W.J. Matthews, G.D. Schnell, D.W. Pogue, and G.W. Sewell. 2002. Structure of littoral-zone fish communities in relation to habitat, physical, and chemical gradients in a southern reservoir. Environmental Biology of Fishes 63:253-263.

Gilbert, C.R. 1980. Notropis potteri (Hubbs and Bonham), Chub shiner.  pp.297 in D.S. Lee, et al. Atlas of North American Freshwater Fishes. N. C. State Mus. Nat. Hist., Raleigh, i-r+854 pp.


Hall, G.E. 1956. Additions to the fish fauna of Oklahoma with a summary of introduced species.  The Southwestern Naturalist 1(1):16-26.


Higgins, C.L., and G.R. Wilde. 2005. The role of salinity in structuring fish assemblages in a prairie stream system. Hydrobiologia 549:197-203.


Hubbs, C., and S.M. Dean. 1979. Growth and reproductive responses of Menidia beryllina (Atherinidae) inhabiting Lake Texoma. The Southwestern Naturalist 24(3):546-549.

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

Hubbs, C.L. and K. Bonham. 1951.  New cyprinid fishes of the Genus Notropis from Texas.  Texas Journal of Science 3:91-110.

Jurgens, K.C. 1954. Records of four cyprinid fishes of the genera Notropis and Semotilus from central Texas. Copeia 1954(2):155-156.

Lienesch, P.W., and W.J. Matthews. 2000. Daily fish and zooplankton abundances in the littoral zone of Lake Texoma, Oklahoma-Texas, in relation to abiotic variables. Environmental Biology of Fishes 59:271-283.

Lienesch, P.W., W.I. Lutterschmidt, and J.F. Schaffer. 2000. Seasonal and long-term changes in the fish assemblage of a small stream isolated by a reservoir. The Southwestern Naturalist 45(3):274-288.

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.


Miller, D.R. 1953. Two additions to Oklahoma’s fish fauna from Red River in Bryan County.  Proceedings of the Oklahoma Academy of Science 34:33-34.


Miller, R. J. 1979. New records of fishes from two southern Oklahoma rivers. Proceedings of the Oklahoma Academy of Science 59:121-122.


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

Page, L.M., and B.M. Burr. 1991. A Field Guide to Freshwater Fishes of North America, north of Mexico. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, Massachusetts. 432 pp.

Pigg, J. 1977. A survey of the fishes of the Muddy Boggy River in South Central Oklahoma. Proc. Okla. Acad. Sci. 57:68-82.


Potter, G. E. 1938. Textbook of Zoology. C.V. Mosby, St. Louis. 915 pp.


Riggs, C.D., and E.W. Bonn. 1959. An annotated list of the fishes of Lake Texoma, Oklahoma and Texas. The Southwestern Naturalist 4(4):157-168.


Robinson, H.W. 1974. New distributional records of some Arkansas fishes with addition of three species to the state ichthyofauna. The Southwestern Naturalist 19(2):220-223.

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

Schramm, H.L., Jr. 2004. Status and management of Mississippi River fisheries. In: Proceedings of the second international symposium on the management of large rivers for fisheries (Volume I). R.L.Welcomme and T. Petr (eds.). FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, Bangkok, Thailand. RAP Publication 2004/16, pp. 301-334.

Stevenson, M.M., G.D. Schnell, and R. Black. 1974. Factor analysis of fish distribution patterns in western and central Oklahoma. Systematic Zoology 23(2):202-218.


Suttkus, R. D. and G. H. Clemmer, 1968. Notropis edwardranyeyi, a new cyprinid fish from the Alabama and Tombigbee River systems and a discussion of related species.  Tulane Studies in Zoology and Botany 15:18-39.


Taylor, C.M., M.R.Winston, and W.J. Matthews. 1993. Fish species-environment and abundance relationships in a Great Plains river system. Ecography 16(1):16-23.


Taylor, C.M., M.R. Winston, and W.J. Matthews. 1996. Temporal variation in tributary and mainstem fish assemblages in a Great Plains stream system. Copeia 1996(2):280-289.


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.


Winemiller, K.O., F.P. Gelwick, T.H. Bonner, S. Zeug, and C. Williams. 2004. Response of oxbow lake biota to hydrologic exchanges with the Brazos River channel. Report to the Texas Water Development Board. 59 pp.

Winston, M.R., C. M. Taylor, J. Pigg. 1991. Upstream extirpation of four minnow species due to damming of a prairie stream. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 120:98-105.

Winston, M.R. 1995. Co-occurrence of morphologically similar species of stream fishes. The American Naturalist 145(4):527-545.


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