Red Shiner

Cyprinella lutrensis

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Red shiner side view photo with black background
Red shiner, Cyprinella lutrensis
Lance Merry
Family

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

Description

The red shiner is a rather slab-sided minnow. The back is yellowish olive with dark edgings on scales. The sides are silvery with blue reflections. Large young and adults have all membranes of the dorsal fin more or less uniformly dusted with fine, dark specks. Breeding males are a beautiful metallic blue with top of head and all fins (exept dorsal) bright red and have a pink vertical bar on body behind the pectoral fin.

Size

Total length: 1¾ to 3 inches; maximum to about 3½ inches.

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red shiner
Red Shiner Male
Red shiner male
Habitat and conservation

Occurs in streams of all sizes but is most abundant in large creeks and rivers. Inhabits a variety of habitats, from riffles to quiet pools. Most abundant and widely distributed minnow in the prairie region of north and west Missouri. Distribution is largely related to competition with closely related species including whitetail, bluntface, blacktail, spotfin, and steelcolor shiners.

Foods

Primarily insects; feeds primarily by sight. Seizes anything available in the appropriate size range. An extremely active fish, frequently breaking the surface of the water while feeding.

image of Red Shiner distribution map
Distribution in Missouri

Abundant in most prairie-region streams of northern and western Missouri; common in northern and western Ozark border. Also occurs south along Mississippi River to the boundary of the state.

Life cycle

Individuals rarely live for more than three years. Most active in daytime. Has adaptable spawning requirements; may spawn on sunfish nests, gravelly riffles, submerged logs, or submerged plants from late May to early September.