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The Spotfin Shiner has a moderately slender body and is slab-sided. The distinctive color of this fish is amazing, with a steel-blue back and sides overlaid with silver shading and dark scale pockets that form a diamond design. The anal fin of breeding males is often bright yellow, and the back is pigmented with olive green, shading to purple and blue. There is a black blotch in the last few rays of the dorsal fin, which differs from the dusky fin of the Red Shiner. Dorsal, anal, and pelvic fins have 8 rays, while the pectoral fins have 13 to 15 rays. A slightly sub-terminal mouth is oblique and has no barbel. Strongly hooked pharyngeal teeth on sturdy arches are arranged in a l, 4-4, 1 pattern. The complete lateral line has 36 to 38 scales and is slightly de-curved.
Very common in interior streams in north-central and northeast Iowa; found only in a few scattered locations in western and southern Iowa streams.
Insects, vegetable material, and some small fish
This shiner makes an excellent aquarium fish and is is a good bait minnow with its brilliant colors.
The Spotfin Shiner prefers shallow habitat with swift water flowing over sand flats. Spawning sites are chosen over irregular surfaces so the eggs can be deposited into small crevices where they are safe through incubation. Spawning may occur over an extended period from May through August. Adults reach 3-inches long.
Spotfin Shiners are displaced by Red Shiners when the habitat is altered by increased turbidity and siltation.
Recent stream sampling information is available from Iowa DNR's biological monitoring and assessment program.