Carmine Shiner

Carmine Shiner, photo courtesy of Konrad P. Schmidt, copyright Konrad P. Schmidt


Carmine Shiners, previously know as Rosyface Shiners, have a slender body and are moderately compressed laterally. Their mouth is large, terminal, and oblique with no barbel. The slender, slightly hooked pharyngeal teeth are arranged in a 2, 4-4, 2 pattern. A slightly de-curved, complete lateral line has 33 to 39 scales. Dorsal and pelvic fins have 8 rays, but the anal varies from 9 to 11 rays, and the pectorals have 12 to 18 rays. The dorsal fin is behind the insertion of the pelvic fins. The back is dark olive and may have a faint mid-dorsal stripe. Sides are silvery with a narrow emerald-lavender lateral band above the midline, and the belly is white. The base of the dorsal fin has a pink shade. Spawning males have a flush of pink or orange on the head and body, which gives rise to their common name.


Carmine Shiner Distribution

Common in the upper reaches of the Raccoon, Des Moines, Cedar, Wapsipinicon, and Maquoketa Rivers, and all of the Turkey, Yellow, and Upper Iowa Rivers. They are the distributional complement of their look alike -- the Emerald Shiner.


aquatic and terrestrial insects

State Record

State Records are not documented for non-game species.

Expert Tip

Carmine Shiners make excellent bait where they are available and can be used in home aquariums.


The Carmine Shiner lives in permanent, clear streams with moderate to high gradient and bottoms of clean gravel, sandy gravel, rock, bedrock, or boulders. It avoids extreme headwaters and is intolerant of excessive turbidity and silt-covered bottoms. Researchers note that it is much more likely to live in large silty rivers than other shiners. In Iowa, this shiner is mostly found in clear, small streams over a gravel or rubble bottom. In other areas, the Rosyface Shiner is most populous in medium to medium-large rivers close to riffles and pools with current. The distribution of this shiner has been affected by siltation due to reservoir construction.

Spawning occurs in June or July when the nests of other minnows may be used. Adults reach up to 3-inches long. 

Recent stream sampling information is available from Iowa DNR's biological monitoring and assessment program.


Harlan, J.R., E.B. Speaker, and J. Mayhew. 1987. Iowa fish and fishing. Iowa Conservation Commission, Des Moines, Iowa. 323pp.

Loan-Wilsey, A. K., C. L. Pierce, K. L. Kane, P. D. Brown and R. L. McNeely. 2005. The Iowa Aquatic Gap Analysis Project Final Report. Iowa Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Iowa State University, Ames.

Photo credit: Photo courtesy of Konrad P. Schmidt, copyright Konrad P. Schmidt.

Present in these Iowa water bodies: