South Dakota Field Office
Mountain-Prairie Region
Topeka Shiner
Notropis topeka




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Picture of a Topeka shinerFAMILY: Cyprinidae

DESCRIPTION: Topeka shiners are small (less than 3 inches in length) minnows that have a dark lateral and back stripes. Scales above the lateral stripe are edged in pigment while below the stripe the scales appear silvery-white. During the breeding season, Topeka shiners have a dark chevron at the base of the caudal fin. Breeding males have orange fins.

STATUS: Listed as endangered in 1998 (Federal Register, December 15, 1998).

REASONS FOR CURRENT STATUS: Topeka shiners have been adversely impacted by degradation of stream quality, habitat destruction, siltation, channelization, dewaterin of streams, and water impoundment.  Population declines also are attributed to introduce predaceous fishes. 

REPRODUCTION AND DEVELOPMENT: Spawning behavior is poorly understood for this species.  It is thought that Topeka shiners spawn on silt-free substrates found in the quieter waters of stream pools. 

RANGE: Historically, Topeka shiners were abundant throughout the prairie regions of South Dakota, Minnesota, Kansas, Iowa, and Missouri.  Topeka shiners still occur in the above mentioned states but exist in fragmented and isolated populations.

POPULATION LEVEL: The number of known occurrences has declined by 80% and Topeka shiners have been extirpated from many watersheds.

HABITAT: Topeka shiners are found in small prairie streams and creeks that exhibit perennial or nearly perennial flow. Substrate usually is clean gravel, cobble, or sand although Topeka shiners have been found in areas with bedrock and clay hardpan overlain by silt.

MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS: Topeka shiners may require open pools with cool, clean water. Activities, such as agriculture and grazing, that increase sedimentation and reduce water quality contribute to the decline of Topeka shiners. Although impoundments provide a refuge during droughts, impoundments prevent upstream movement and shiners that utilize these impoundments are subject to predation by larger fish. Streams with watering ponds and other impoundments have eliminated Topeka shiners from the associated stream reaches. As a prairie species, Topeka shiners are adapted to taking refuge in pools during periods of drought. However, human activities that use ground and stream water create artificial drought conditions that result in death of Topeka shiners from anoxia or exposure.


Simons, A. M., J. T. Hatch, and K. Schmidt. 2001. Topeka shiner Notropis topeka. Retrieved November 29, 2001, from James Ford Bell Museum of Natural History Fish Collection Web site (no longer available).

USFWS. 1998. Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Final Rule To List the Topeka Shiner as Endangered. Federal Register 63:69008-69021.

USFWS Topeka Shiner Species Profile page



Last updated: September 9, 2013

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