Golden Shiner

Notemigonus crysoleucas


Golden shiner male, side view photo with black background
Golden shiner, Notemigonus crysoleucas, male
Lance Merry

Cyprinidae (minnows) in the order Cypriniformes (carps, minnows, and loaches)


The golden shiner is a deep-bodied minnow, back greenish-olive with a faint dusky stripe along the midline. Sides are golden or silvery, and the belly is silvery white. Has a fleshy “keel” along midline of the belly from the anus forward to the pelvic fin bases. One of the largest minnows native to Missouri and the only minnow with a fleshy keel. The tail fin of breeding males is often orange-red.


Total length: 3 to 6 inches; maximum to about 8 inches.

Habitat and conservation

Largest populations found in sloughs, ponds, lakes, impoundments, and quiet pools of streams. Rarely found in stream sections with noticeable current. Tolerates moderate turbidity, but thrives in clear, heavily vegetated habitats.


Both plant material and invertebrates, in about equal quantities.

image of Golden Shiner Distribution Map
Distribution in Missouri

Widespread in Missouri, most abundant in prairie and Ozark border streams of west-central and northeast Missouri, and in southeast lowlands.

Life cycle

Individuals rarely live more than six years.

Human connections

An important bait fish, well suited for pond culture, it is often stocked as prey for game fish.