The blacknose shiner, or blacknose dace (Notropis heterolepis), also known as the blacknose shiner minnow, has a beautiful coloration that includes striking red and green spots on the sides of the body, as well as rows of red spots along the dorsal and anal fins.
They are active fish that grows to about 4 inches in length, making it ideal for small freshwater tanks with plenty of swimming rooms. Plus, it’s easy to breed, so you can share the fish with other hobbyists or even release them into ponds if you no longer have time to take care of them yourself.
How you care for your blacknose shiner can greatly influence how long it lives and what type of environment it needs to thrive in.
Their diet consists of aquatic organisms like insects, worms, crustaceans, and plant matter like algae and floating plants. They will occasionally feed on fry from other fish species, but this should be discouraged due to the risk of introducing disease into your tank and the overpopulation of your tank.
Origin and descriptions
The blacknose shiner was first described in 1866 by Charles Girard, who collected specimens near New York. The common name of Notropis heterolepis literally means different shaped snout and it refers to its unique and distinctive head shape, which has a pointed snout and large mouth. They have an average length of three inches but can reach over four inches as adults.
Blacknose shiners are native to eastern North America from Quebec, Canada down through Florida, and westward along both sides of the Mississippi River. Their habitat is mainly small streams with sand or gravel bottoms where they burrow into debris piles or crevices in stream banks for shelter. In their natural habitat, they prefer clear water with low turbidity levels.
The blacknose shiner belongs to the family Cyprinidae and order Cypriniformes. There are two species in North America, Notropis heterolepis and Notropis anogenus. Both are native to eastern North America and can be found in a variety of freshwater habitats including rivers, lakes, ponds, streams, and swamps.
They have a life span of up to three years but usually, live for less than two years. They reach maturity at one year old at about 1 inch long. Blacknose shiners can grow up to 3 inches long and weigh .25 ounces. Their diet consists mainly of small insects, crustaceans, and worms that they find on or near the bottom of their habitat.
They have no brutal predators besides humans who sometimes catch them as bait fish or use them as aquarium fish and some other big fishes. Their preferred water temperature is between 10-20 degrees Celsius but they can survive in temperatures between 0-30 degrees Celsius if necessary.
The scientific name of the blacknose shiner is Notropis heterolepis
Blacknose shiners are freshwater fish found in streams, rivers, lakes, and reservoirs across North America. They prefer slow-moving waters with plenty of covers like rocks and plant life. They will usually stay relatively close to cover but may also be found in open areas if there is a current strong enough to keep predators away from them.
Unlike most fish species, blacknose shiners actually prefer warmer water temperatures ranging from 75–85 degrees Fahrenheit. Although they can tolerate lower temperatures for short periods of time, they cannot survive in colder water for an extended period.
They can grow between 1.5 to 4 inches (4-9.8 cm) in length
Due to their small-sized, the minimum recommended tank size is 10 gallons (38 liters)
Like many minnow species, blacknoses prefer shallow, quiet water that’s rich in aquatic vegetation such as algae. In a home aquarium, keep your blacknose shiner in a 10-gallon tank with small to medium-sized live plants and floating driftwood. They need plenty of room to swim, so an aquarium of at least 15 gallons is ideal for one or two adults.
If you plan on keeping more than one fish, increase your tank size accordingly. A larger aquarium will also help maintain stable water parameters over time—the larger volume of water means fewer chances for fluctuations in temperature and pH levels.
Water should be soft and slightly acidic, between 6.0 and 7.5 pH. Ideally, you should use dechlorinated tap water; if your tap water is hard or heavily chlorinated, you may want to consider using distilled or reverse osmosis (RO) water instead.
Plants are important because they provide cover from predators and shade from direct sunlight. Driftwood can also serve as shelter, but make sure it doesn’t touch the bottom of your tank, which could lead to high ammonia levels due to decomposing organic matter.
Finally, avoid overcrowding by adding only one or two blacknose shiners per tank. This might seem counterintuitive because they are schooling fish by nature, but overcrowding can cause stress that leads to disease and even death.
The Blacknose Shiner is a very easy fish to breed in both community and self-sustaining environments. It will spawn readily, but requires clean water with good oxygenation and a gravel substrate, preferably of medium grade or smaller. The breeding temperature is between 22-26 degrees Celsius (71.6-78 degrees Fahrenheit).
Conditioning takes place over two weeks prior to spawning; during which time each fish should be fed once daily for five days. After conditioning, feed every other day until eggs are observed. Once eggs are present, continue feeding every other day until the eggs are laid, fertilized, and hatched, and the fry becomes free swimming.
Fry can be raised on newly hatched brine shrimp nauplii or powdered flake food. To prevent the risk of diseases, remove any uneaten food after 15 minutes. Fry grow quickly and reach sexual maturity at six months of age.
Are they aggressive or peaceful?
Blacknose shiners are generally peaceful fish. However, they can get territorial and aggressive toward others of their own kind if they’re kept in too small of a tank. This behavior can be reduced by giving them more space or dividing your tank into multiple spaces. In any case, keep an eye on any signs of aggression between fish to ensure that no one gets hurt!
Blacknose shiner care
Blacknose shiners are pretty easy to care for in your home aquarium. In general, they don’t need much more than live and frozen foods, but you can supplement their diet with thawed brine shrimp, bloodworms, and earthworms. Their ideal water temperature is 72-80 degrees F with a pH range of 6.0-7.5, and a hardness level of 5-19 dH.
They prefer soft, neutral, or slightly acidic water. They should be kept in schools of at least six fish and given plenty of hiding places among rocks or driftwood. A 20-gallon tank would be adequate for a school of 2 or 3 blacknose shiners. They do well with other small fish such as tetras, minnows, and danios.
What they eat
Blacknose shiners are omnivores, meaning they eat both plant matter and animals. As adults, they should have a diet of both animal and plant-based proteins. It’s best to feed them bloodworms, brine shrimp, earthworms, or grasshoppers at least twice per week in addition to regular vegetable foods such as lettuce, spinach, peas, and carrots. Be sure to avoid overfeeding your fish!
Blacknose shiner can live up to 3 years in captivity with good care and proper water parameters.
Parasites and diseases
They are a relatively hardy fish, and normally don’t have any particular issues. They can be prone to fin rot and other minor diseases, but because of their resilience to parasites, disease outbreaks in blacknoses are few and far between. If you keep your water clean and pristinely filtered, you shouldn’t have any problems with them.
You should always quarantine new fish before adding them to an established tank, just in case they do happen to come down with something. In rare cases, a blacknose shiner will develop ich or white spot disease; if caught early enough, it is possible for aquarists to treat it at home using copper-based medications or salt baths.
Because of their size, blacknose shiners are at risk of being eaten by larger fish, pike, bass, and walleye. They are also prey to birds and other large fish. It is important to take measures to protect them from these predators. To protect them from birds it is advised that you create a barrier in which they can hide or escape when under attack. Their hiding places should be secure enough so that bigger fish cannot enter.
Do they make good pets?
As a whole, minnow species make great pets. They are relatively easy to care for, have interesting personalities, and can live long lives if properly cared for. As long as you know what you’re getting into, that is it.
They will eat any fish small enough to fit in their mouth. This makes it difficult to keep multiple specimens together unless they are introduced at birth or raised together from infancy. If you do decide to get one of these little guys as a pet, prepare yourself to enjoy their unique personality!