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stargazing minnows

 SCIENTIFIC NAME: Phenacobius uranops

CHARACTERISTICS: The stargazing minnow's body is more slender and fusiform than those of the riffle and suckermouth minnows, Phenacobius catostomus and P. mirabilis. Its snout is very long and blunt, extending well past the upper lip. The fins are generally rounded, and a distinct lateral band extends from the snout to the caudal fin. The eyes are somewhat elliptical and rotated toward the top of the head. Body color is dark olive brown along the back and silvery below.

ADULT SIZE: 2.4 to 3.9 in (60 to 100 mm)

DISTRIBUTION: The stargazing minnow is found in the Green, Cumberland, and Tennessee river drainages. It is uncommon in Alabama, known from only a few localities in the Cypress Creek, Shoal Creek, and Elk River systems in the Tennessee River drainage. We have collected this species only from Shoal Creek in 1992.

HABITAT AND BIOLOGY: Phenacobius uranops prefers riffles and riffle-run habitats of clear, medium-sized streams and small rivers flowing over rubble and gravel. The individuals collected in 1992 in lower Shoal Creek were taken at the downstream end of large riffles and shoals where erosional pools had formed. The streamline chub, Erimystax dissimilis, was taken syntopically in the same net haul with P. uranops. A bottom dweller, P. uranops consumes midges, immature caddisflies, and detritus by gleaning them from the substrate with its suckerlike lips (Jenkins and Burkhead, 1993). Jenkins and Burkhead also indicate that the spawning season in Virginia is from late April to June, and spawning in the streams of north Alabama probably occurs at the same time.

ORIGINAL DESCRIPTION: The stargazing minnow was described by Cope in 1867.

Phenacobius means deceptive life, because this species' bottom feeding habits suggest that it, like the stoneroller, is herbivorous.
Uranops means sky-gazing.  

The copyrighted information above is from Fishes of Alabama and the Mobile Basin.

Note: In Alabama, it is illegal to stock or move any fish, mussel, snail or crayfish to any public water without a permit.

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