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common shiner

common shiner (Luxilus cornutus) Photo © Konrad P. Schmidt, University of Minnesota

Features and Behaviors


The common shiner averages about three to seven inches in length. Its back and upper sides are green-brown. The lower sides are silver with scattered dark spots, and the belly is silver-white. The fins are colorless. The tip of the chin is clear or with only a few dark patches on the sides. When viewed from above, this fish has a dark stripe in the middle of the back that is darker in front of the dorsal fi n than behind it. A dark, thin stripe is present on each side of the main stripe. The breeding male develops tubercles (bumps) on the head and dorsal and pectoral fins a bright pink color on the sides and in the fins and a steel blue color all over. Gold stripes can be seen along the midline of the back and along the upper sides of the breeding male.


The common shiner may be found in gravel-bottomed creeks in the northern one-fourth of Illinois. Spawning occurs from May through July over gravel in stream riffles. The male excavates a depression to use for a nest, or this fish may nest in a depression made by other nest-building species. The use of communal nests results in frequent development of hybrids. Young common shiners reach maturity in their third summer. The common shiner swims in schools at middle depths in the water often with other minnows. It feeds on insects, fishes, crustaceans and algae. The life span of this fish is about five years.

Illinois Range


Kingdom: Animalia​
Phylum: Chordata​
Class: Actinopterygii​
Order: Cypriniformes​
Family: Leuciscidae

Illinois Status: common, native