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Montana Field Guide

Montana Field Guides

Sand Shiner - Notropis stramineus

Native Species

Global Rank: G5
State Rank: S4

Agency Status


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General Description
The smallest of the shiners in Montana is the sand shiner. This species is native to the plains area of eastern Montana, where it lives in schools, primarily in clear streams with sandy bottoms. It attains a length of about 3 inches and so is too small to be used much as a bait minnow. The sand shiner is one of our least known minnow species.

Diagnostic Characteristics
Back light olive, sides silvery (sometimes with bluish purple sheen), underside white. A thin black stripe along midline of back expands into a wedge at front of dorsal fin. Black dashes on lateral line scale may be faint on fish from turbid water. Eye large. Body somewhat flat sided but not deep.

Species Range
Montana Range


Western Hemisphere Range


Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations: 859

(Click on the following maps and charts to see full sized version) Map Help and Descriptions
Relative Density



(Observations spanning multiple months or years are excluded from time charts)

Streams both large and small, with clear water, rapid current, and sand or gravel bottom; also sandy shallows of lakes. Southeast Montana study showed widest distributions at mouth sections of study streams.

Food Habits
Food consists largely of small aquatic insects and crustaceans and finely divided detritus.

Among the smallest Montana fishes.

Reproductive Characteristics
Sexually mature at 1 yr. Spawns May - Aug. with late July - Aug. peak.

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Citation for data on this website:
Sand Shiner — Notropis stramineus.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from