Tuesday, May 10, 2011


The word “minnow” is a term that is sometimes used to describe any type of tiny fish. However, the only true minnows are particular kinds of small, or smallish, members of the carp family.

Nevertheless, it is still not easy to decide exactly what a minnow is, because this name has been given to a host of different species. Even within the carp family, it is used for members of various subfamilies.The name is not therefore an indication of a close relationship between different fish, but rather a more general indicator of their size. But even this is inaccurate, since some minnows are
quite big. To add to the confusion, some minnows are popularly known as dace—another description given to small fish.

What Is a Minnow?
Zoologists have discovered a number of features shared by all minnows. These include the absence of scales on the head, a single dorsal fin on the back, and the lack of an adipose fin (the small fatty fin behind the dorsal fin in some fish species). Minnows have no true supportive spines in their fins, only hardened rays. There are no teeth in their jaws, although there may be teeth present right at the back of the mouth.

Another minnow feature is the lack of sensory feelers, known as barbels, on the upper jaw around the mouth. Some of the bones in a minnow’s skull are also different from those of other members of the family, and minnows have more bones in their backbone than in other types of carp. These features all help to distinguish true minnows; members of the subfamily Leuciscinae; from other members of the carp family.


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