Description: The Topeka shiner is a
small minnow that is less than three inches in total length. It is a
silvery color, with a well-defined dark stripe along its side, and a
dark wedge-shaped spot at the base of the tail fin. Males develop
additional reddish color in all other fins during the breeding
Habitat and Habits: The Topeka shiner is a fish that is found
in prairie streams with stable stream channels and in off-channel
oxbows with sandy or gravel bottoms. An important aspect for
survival is clear, clean water with cool temperatures and clean
gravel, rock, or sand bottoms. Streams that have Topeka shiners tend
to be perennial with year-round flows, although some are small
enough to stop flowing during dry summer months. In those instances,
water levels need to be maintained by groundwater seepage for the
fish to survive or the fish move downstream to areas of permanent
Photograph provided by
Distribution: Historically, this species occurred in 36
counties. Recent surveys have found the Topeka shiner in 13 counties
of Iowa. Additional surveys may find the Topeka shiner in a few more
counties, but it is probably extirpated from about 50 percent of its
historic range in Iowa.
Conservation Measures: Protection of known Topeka shiner
populations in the tributaries to the North Raccoon River, Rock and
Little Rock rivers, and Boone River drainage is related to:
• Limiting new construction of dam structures and removal of
existing dam structures when feasible. When dam removal is not
feasible, the creation of fish passage ways over existing dams is
• Restoration of stream channels.
• Implementation of proper upland management such as contour farming
and other soil erosion control methods.
• Reestablishment of grassy riparian corridors.
• Maintaining oxbows and in some cases removal of sediment from
by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and
Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship.
Mailing Address: IDALS, Wallace State Office Building, 502 E. 9th Street, Des Moines, IA 50319: PH: 515-281-5321