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Fishes of North Dakota

Minnow Family

Minnow Family

This family comprises the largest number of fishes in North Dakota. Exotic carp and goldfish and about 30 other species of small fish which we call "minnows" are found in North Dakota. These small minnows all have a single dorsal fin. They are important food fish for game fish, birds, and animals. A few examples of the minnow family follow.


Introduced German carp have multiplied and occupy most North Dakota waters. Carp root up vegetation and contribute to turbid water conditions which are a detriment to game fish and waterfowl. Carp have two barbels on each side of the jaw and can be found in three types: the scaled that are covered with scales; the mirror that have a few large scales, and the leather that have no scales. Goldfish that are released into the wild will grow large and cause the same problems as carp.
JPG -- Picture of a Carp.

JPG -- Picture of a Fathead Minnow.

Fathead Minnow

This abundant minnow is important as a bait fish. It is not big enough to be good bait for large fish, but its small size prevents it from causing problems which larger bait fish such as suckers may cause. The males have black heads and horn-like projections across the snout during the spawning period. Brassy and silvery minnows are very similar to the fathead.

Creek Chub

This chub may grow to a foot in length and is found mainly in rivers and large streams. Some people like to fish for them and others use them as bait fish.
JPG -- Picture of a Creek Chub.

JPG -- Picture of a Golden Shiner.

Golden Shiner

The golden shiner may grow to a foot in length, is hardy and can survive where few fish can live. It often overpopulates our small fishing lakes. It is illegal to sell golden shiners as bait fish. It is deep-bodied and an attractive golden color.

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