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golden shiner

​golden shiner (Notemigonus crysoleucas) Photo © Uland Thomas

Features and Behaviors

The golden shiner may grow to a length of three to six inches. The female is larger than the male. The body of this fish is very deep and flattened side‐to‐side. Its distinctive lateral line is low on the body and strongly curved. It has a scaleless keel on part of the belly. The snout is pointed, and the mouth is upturned. This fish may appear silver or gold depending on the clarity of the water it lives in. Its green back has a faint stripe. A breeding male may have a red tail fin.

The golden shiner may be found statewide in Illinois. This minnow lives in lakes, ponds, swamps and creeks and rivers with little current, preferring areas with abundant vegetation. The golden shiner swims in small schools in midwater or near the surface. Spawning occurs in spring. Eggs are scattered over algae or submerged plants, or they may be deposited in largemouth bass and green sunfish nests. Eggs hatch in about four days. The golden shiner eats algae, plants, small crustaceans, snails and insects.

Illinois Range


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

Illinois Status: common, native