Spotfin shiner

Spotfin shiner


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.


Spotfin shiner Distribution

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

State Record

State Records are not documented for non-game species.

Expert Tip

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.

Present in these Iowa water bodies:
Lake/Stream County Location Acres/Length
Pool 19, Mississippi River Lee Amenities listed are at City of Ft. Madison boat ramp. Amenities vary by location in Pool 19 33500.00
Pool 18, Mississippi River Louisa Amenities listed are for the Toolsboro Ramp. The ramp at Toolsboro is paved but the road to the ramp is gravel. There is some shore fishing along the parking area and at the outlet of Lake Odessa. Amenities vary by location in pool 18 13300.00
Pool 16, Mississippi River Scott The amenities list are for Buffalo Shores campground in Buffalo, Iowa. Amenities at other locations in Pool 16 vary by location. 13000.00
Pool 17, Mississippi River Muscatine Amenities list for Muscatine City Ramp. This ramp is located in downtown Muscatine. Amenities vary by location in Pool 17. 7580.00
Coralville Reservoir Johnson 4 miles north of Iowa City 5340.00
Lake Macbride Johnson 4 miles West of Solon 940.00
Missouri River (Sioux City to Little Sioux) Harrison Chris Larsen Park: 1280 Larsen Park Road/Sioux City, IA. Located on the Sioux City riverfront along the Missouri River. Larsen Park offers 110 acres on the Sioux City Riverfront. Managed by the City of Sioux City. 64.00
Missouri River (Council Bluffs to state line) Fremont Lake Manawa State Park: 1100 South Shore Drive/Council Bluffs, IA 51501 phone: 712-366-0220. Managed by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources Lake Manawa State Park has boat ramps on the Missouri River within the park. 61.00