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steelcolor shiner

steelcolor shiner (Cyprinella whipplei) Photo © Uland Thomas

Features and Behaviors

The steelcolor shiner's average length is two and one-half to four and one-half inches, and its maximum length is about six inches. The average life span is three to four years. This fish's dorsal fin has dark specks on all the membranes and a black spot on the back portion. The pointed snout, teeth in the throat and small eyes are all characteristic. The steelcolor shiner has an olive back and a silver side with a dark stripe along the back half. Dark edges on the scales give the fish a cross-hatch effect. The breeding male has a blue back and sides, a red snout and yellow fins.

The steelcolor shiner lives in creeks and rivers, usually near riffles. It schools in midwater or near the surface often in association with other species. This fish reaches maturity at an age of two to three years. It spawns June through August. Eggs are deposited in or between objects in water, such as tree roots or logs. The male guards a small territory against other males. The steelcolor shiner eats insects and other small invertebrates.

Illinois Range


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

Illinois Status: common, native