Plants and Animals

Notropis photogenis Silver shiner

Key Characteristics

The silver shiner is a slender but large (7-10 cm) minnow with large eyes and a silvery, blue/green iridescence and wide black lateral band. The snout is long with two black crescents between nostrils. The dorsal fin is almost directly above the pelvic fin.

Status and Rank

US Status: No Status/Not Listed
State Status: E - Endangered (legally protected)
Global Rank: G5 - Secure
State Rank: S1 - Critically imperiled


CountyNumber of OccurrencesYear Last Observed
Hillsdale 4 2000
Lenawee 1 2013
Livingston 1 1927
Monroe 3 1929
Washtenaw 7 2018

Information is summarized from MNFI's database of rare species and community occurrences. Data may not reflect true distribution since much of the state has not been thoroughly surveyed.


The silver shiner occurs in medium to large streams with moderate to high gradients. This species usually occurs in pools or eddies with depths of ~110 cm immediately below riffles. They avoid heavily vegetated and silted areas. Spawning habitats are currently not defined.

Specific Habitat Needs

Gravel and cobble substrates needed in: Mainstem stream (3rd-4th order), pool; Mainstem stream (3rd-4th order), riffle; River (5th-6th order), pool; River (5th-6th order), riffle.

Natural Community Types

  • Mainstem stream (3rd-4th order), pool
  • Mainstem stream (3rd-4th order), riffle
  • River (5th-6th order), pool
  • River (5th-6th order), riffle

For each species, lists of natural communities were derived from review of the nearly 6,500 element occurrences in the MNFI database, in addition to herbarium label data for some taxa. In most cases, at least one specimen record exists for each listed natural community. For certain taxa, especially poorly collected or extirpated species of prairie and savanna habitats, natural community lists were derived from inferences from collection sites and habitat preferences in immediately adjacent states (particularly Indiana and Illinois). Natural communities are not listed for those species documented only from altered or ruderal habitats in Michigan, especially for taxa that occur in a variety of habitats outside of the state.

Natural communities are not listed in order of frequency of occurrence, but are rather derived from the full set of natural communities, organized by Ecological Group. In many cases, the general habitat descriptions should provide greater clarity and direction to the surveyor. In future versions of the Rare Species Explorer, we hope to incorporate natural community fidelity ranks for each taxon.

Management Recommendations

Silver shiners are not widespread in Michigan and seem to be able to tolerate a limited amount of human impact including poor water quality. Specific threats are difficult to determine. But damming and channelizing rivers are likely to negatively affect this species due to their relatively restricted stream gradient preferences (McKee and Parker 1982).

Active Period

Spawning from first week of June to fourth week of June

Survey Methods

In small streams a backpack shocker is most appropriate. In larger rivers, a barge/boat shocker should be used. Seines are preferable since electrofishing may cause mortality.


Survey Period: From first week of April to fourth week of September


Survey Period: From first week of April to fourth week of September


Survey References

  • Murphy, B.R. and D.W. Willis, eds. 1996. Fisheries Techniques, 2nd ed. American Fisheries Society, Bethesda. 732pp.

Technical References

  • Bailey, R.M., W.C. Latta, and G.R. Smith. 2004. An Atlas of Michigan Fishes. Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan, No. 192, Ann Arbor. 215p.
  • Baldwin, M.E. 1983. Habitat use, distribution, life history, and interspecific associations of Notropis photogenis (Silver shiner: Osteichthyes: Cyprinidae) in Canada, with comparisons with Notropis rubellus (Rosyface shiner). Thesis, Carleton University, Ottawa.
  • Carman, S.M. 2001. Special animal abstract for Notropis photogenis (Silver shiner). Michigan Natural Features Inventory, Lansing, MI. 3pp.
  • Evers, D.C. 1994. Endangered and Threatened Wildlife of Michigan. The University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor. 412pp.
  • McKee, B.M. and B.J. Parker. 1982. The distribution, biology, and status of the fishes Campostoma anomalum, Clinostomus elongatus, Notropis photogenis (Cyprinidae), and Fundulus notatus (Cyprinodontidae) in Canada. Canadian Journal of Zoology 60:1347-56.
  • Parker, B. and P. McKee. 1984. Status of the silver shiner, Notropis photogenis, in Canada. Canadian Field-Naturalist 98(1):91-97.
  • Trautman, M.B. 1981. The Fishes of Ohio. Ohio State University Press, Columbus. 782pp.

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