The group of fishes identified as minnows is very large in Kansas. The physical characteristics that determine whether a fish can be considered a Minnow are as follows. External features include: scaleless head, toothless jaws, lack of adipose fin, lack of appendages at the base of the pelvic fins, and a single, soft dorsal fin in native species that has less than 10 rays. Internal anatomical features are: cyprinids have fewer than 10 teeth in any row on the pharyngeal arch, an enlarged intestine instead of a true stomach, and a series of bones called weberian ossicle that form a rudimentary ear.
Minnows form the basis of our natural stream fish fauna, and they have filled most of the habitat niches through evolution and natural selection. To most people, a minnow is a small fish – any small fish. Not so. A minnow is a member of a distinct group. It has scales and bones and internal organs that distinguish it from fishes of other families. And not all minnows are small. The carp is a minnow. It can weigh sixty pounds. Of course, most minnows are small.
More than a third of the different kinds of fish in Kansas are minnows. About thirty kinds of Minnows live in the Kansas river and it’s tributaries. In southern Kansas the Neosho river has just as many kinds. Several kinds of Minnows are very hardy and able to invade new territory during periods of heavy rain. Other Minnows have very definite environmental requirements and are very unlikely to expand in range.
In closing, We have divided the group Minnows (Family Cyprinidae) into 5 classifications. This is not a scientific grouping but rather a logical setup for easier access for you. If ever you capture a fish and are unable to determine it’s idenity, please feel free to contact us at Kansasfishes.com.