Notemigonus crysoleucas


Species overview: The golden shiner is widely distributed from the Canadian Maritime provinces, throughout the eastern and central United States, to South America, and in many parts of the western United States. The golden shiner is most often used as bait. “Notemigonus” means “angled back,” and “crysoleucas” means “golden-white.”

Identification: Adults can reach sizes of seven to 10 inches, and may live as long as eight years. Anglers sometimes catch larger adults while fishing for other species. The golden shiner is deep-bodied with a small head. It has gold-colored sides and an olive-brown back. The sides sometimes reflect a silver color. The fins in the adult are yellow or light-olive, and silvery in the young. The smallest young, those smaller than about four inches, appear silvery all over, as do other shiners. Young golden shiners have a dark lateral stripe that becomes fainter as the fish grows, until it is absent in adults. The lateral line is curved noticeably downward.
The golden shiner’s body has cycloid scales, but the head has no scales. It has four to six teeth in one or two rows on the pharyngeal arches. There are no teeth in the mouth. The golden shiner has a single, spineless dorsal fin with eight rays. The anal fin has 11 to 13 rays and is deeply curved.
The belly between the pelvic and anal fins is raised in a sharp keel that bears no scales.

Habits: The golden shiner can be found in the quieter portions of lakes, rivers and streams with clear water, a bottom of sand or organic debris, and much aquatic vegetation.

Life history: Golden shiners spawn in late spring through about mid-summer in water temperatures of 68 to 80 degrees. The female lays adhesive eggs in submerged vegetation. One or two males usually pursue the female, pushing the female with their snouts and moving in quick circles. Spawning males grow small tubercles on the top and sides of the head, and on the lower jaw.
Golden shiners feed on zooplankton and midge pupae. They also consume small mollusks, insect larvae, filamentous algae and terrestrial insects.