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New Jersey Endangered and Threatened Species Field Guide

Image of Comely shiner.Zoom+ Comely shiner. Photo courtesy of Flickr user miciah mcnelius.

Comely shiner

Notropis amoenus

Species Group: Fish

Conservation Status

State: Special Concern



Approximately 4 ¼ inches in length with a slender, compressed body. Body color is light olive above with a narrow dusky stripe along the back and silver stripe with emerald sheen along the side. The dorsal fin origin is behind the pelvic fin origin. It has a large, terminal oblique mouth on a fairly pointed snout. It has a smaller eye than the similar Emerald Shiner (Notropis atherinoides).

Image of Range of the comely shiner in New Jersey.Zoom+ Range of the comely shiner in New Jersey.


This species occurs within Atlantic Slope drainages from the Hudson River in New York to the Cape Fear River in North Carolina. New Jersey is along the periphery of this species' range. Within New Jersey, it can only be found within the northern and western portions of the state.

Habitat includes runs and flowing pools within creeks and medium to large rivers, over sand or gravel.


Comely shiners are invertivores, consuming insects and other small aquatic and terrestrial invertebrates. Like other members of the Cyprinidae family, they are stomachless fish with toothless jaws. Food is chewed by pharyngeal teeth (teeth in the pharyngeal arch of their throat). The pharyngeal teeth are species-specific and are a way to identify some species.


A schooling species which spawns throughout the summer, primarily in July.


This species is found in relatively low numbers within New Jersey with the state being along the periphery of the species' range. Within the state, it has a limited distribution with disjunct populations. It also appears to be declining in nearby states.

It has an intolerance to environmental degradation, particularly siltation within spawning habitat. Urbanization and habitat loss may also be contributing to its low populations in the state.

In 2016, the New Jersey Endangered and Nongame Advisory Committee recommended a Special Concern status for this species, but no formal rule proposal has been filed to date.

Text written by Michael J. Davenport in 2016.


  • Arndt, Rudolf G. 2004. “Annotated Checklist and Distribution of New Jersey Freshwater Fishes, With Comments on Abundance.” The Bulletin: New Jersey Academy of Scince. Vol. 49, No. 1.
  • Page, Lawrence M. and B.M. Burr. 2011. Peterson Field Guide to Freshwater Fishes of North America North of Mexico.
Scientific Classification

Kingdom: Animalia
    Phylum: Chordata
       Class: Actinopterygii
          Order: Cypriniformes
             Family: Cyprinidae
                Genus: Notropis
                   Species: N. amoenus

Find Related Info: Fish, Special concern

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