olive-green with bluish reflections on back and sides, silvery belly; dark pigmentation behind scattered scales; scales along side elevated and appear diamond-shaped
throughout state, but most common in large interior rivers, natural lakes, and the Mississippi River
plant and animal material
popular bait fish
Common shiners are widely distributed throughout the entire state, but are far more prevalent in the large interior rivers, natural lakes, and the Mississippi River, where they are rare to common in most fish collections.
This cyprinid is robust with a stout body form and moderately compressed laterally. Body color is olive-green with bluish reflections on the back and the sides, and the belly is silvery. Breeding males are tinted with pink over their entire body and have dusky dorsal and caudal fins. Common shiners are one of a few minnow species which have dark pigmentation behind scattered scales, giving the appearance that some scales have been lost. The scales along the sides are elevated and appear diamond shaped. A broad mid-dorsal stripe, along the top of the back, is subtended by 2 or 3 narrow, parallel stripes and is best seen by viewing the fish from above. The dorsal and pelvic fins have 8 rays, while the pectoral fins have from 15 to 17, and the anal fin usually has 9 rays. A large, terminal mouth is nearly horizontal and has no barbel. Strongly hooked pharyngeal teeth on sturdy arches are arranged in a 2, 4-4, 2 formula.
Common shiners have a habitat preference for clear water and reach their greatest abundance in the upstream tributaries of major interior rivers. These minnows build nests and spawn in the spring over clean gravel and commonly utilize the nests of other minnows. Forage consists of both plant and animal material. Adults reach 8 to 10 inches in length, and they are an excellent bait fish.