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emerald shiner

emerald shiner (Notropis atherinoides) Photo © Uland Thomas

Features and Behaviors


The emerald shiner grows to an average length of two and one-half to three and one-half inches. The front half of its lips are black, and the chin has dark pigment. The back is green with a dark stripe. The silvery side has a silver stripe with green reflections which gives rise to the common name of “emerald shiner.” The belly is silver-white. A breeding male has small projections (tubercles) on its pectoral fins. The life span of this fish is about two years.


The emerald shiner may be found statewide in Illinois, including Lake Michigan. It  lives in areas of noticeable current in rivers and in large lakes. The emerald shiner swims in large schools in midwater or at the surface. Spawning occurs in spring and summer at night in shallow water over sand or mud. The eggs sink to the bottom and hatch in about 24 to 36 hours. The emerald shiner feeds by sight, eating small crustaceans and insects.

Illinois Range


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

Illinois Status: common, native