Red Shiner

Cyprinella lutrensis


Image of a red shiner
Joseph R. Tomelleri. Used with permission.

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


A rather slab-sided minnow. Yellowish-olive back with dark edgings on scales. 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.


Total length: 1 3/4 to 3 inches; maximum to about 3 1/2 inches.

Habitat and conservation

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.


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.