Red shiner

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Red shiner
Red shiner.JPG
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Cypriniformes
Family: Cyprinidae
Subfamily: Leuciscinae
Clade: Pogonichthyinae
Genus: Cyprinella
C. lutrensis
Binomial name
Cyprinella lutrensis
  • Leuciscus lutrensis Baird & Girard, 1853
  • Notropis lutrensis (Baird & Girard, 1853)
  • Leuciscus bubalinus Baird & Girard, 1853
  • Moniana frigida Girard, 1856
  • Cyprinella umbrosa Girard, 1856
  • Cyprinella gunnisoni Girard, 1856
  • Cyprinella beckwithi Girard, 1856
  • Moniana leonina Girard, 1856
  • Moniana complanata Girard, 1856
  • Moniana laetabilis Girard, 1856
  • Moniana pulchella Girard, 1856
  • Moniana couchi Girard, 1856
  • Moniana gibbosa Girard, 1856
  • Cyprinella suavis Girard, 1856
  • Cyprinella billingsiana Cope, 1871
  • Moniana jugalis Cope, 1871
  • Hypsilepis iris Cope, 1875
  • Cyprinella forbesi Jordan, 1878
  • Nototropis forlonensis Meek, 1904

The red shiner or red-horse minnow (Cyprinella lutrensis) is a North American species of freshwater fish in the family Cyprinidae. They are deep-bodied and laterally compressed,[2] and can grow to about three inches in length. For most of the year, both males and females have silver sides and whitish abdomens. Males in breeding coloration, though, have iridescent pink-purple-blue sides and a red crown and fins (except the dorsal fin which remains dark).[3]

Red shiners can live up to three years. They are omnivorous; they eat both aquatic and terrestrial invertebrates, as well as algae.[4] Red shiners have also been known to eat the eggs and larvae of native fish found in locations where they have been introduced.[5]


The spawning season for red shiners is generally from mid-April through September.[2] In addition to spawning in crevices like other members of the genus Cyprinella, red shiners also broadcast their eggs and attach them to rocks or vegetation.[6] Females can release up to 16 batches per day with up to 71 eggs per batch. The average clutch size, however, is 585 eggs and they may have five to 19 clutches in one reproductive season.[7] Red shiners are capable of generating viable hybrid offspring with closely related species, such as the blue shiner and the blacktail shiner.[6]


Red shiners are found naturally in a variety of aquatic habitats, including backwaters, creek mouths, streams containing sand and silt substrates, riffles, and pools.[2][8] They are tolerant of areas of frequent high turbidity and siltation,[9] but they tend to avoid waters with high acidity.[10] Red shiner are habitat generalists in that they are adapted to favor a wide range of environmental conditions that are not ideal to most other fish species. These include habitats degraded by human disturbance, and those with poor water quality (such as polluted waterways), natural physiochemical extremes, and seasonally intermittent flows.[6]


Map of the native and non-native distribution of red shiners (Cyprinella lutrensis) in the United States

The red shiner is naturally found in the Mississippi River basin from southern Wisconsin and eastern Indiana to South Dakota and Wyoming and south to Louisiana. It is also found as an introduced species in Arizona, Alabama, California, Colorado, Illinois, Georgia, Nebraska, North Carolina, South Carolina, Wyoming, Massachusetts, Utah, Virginia, Nevada, and New Mexico.[11] Although the species is overall widespread and common, the subspecies from Maravillas Creek in Texas (Cyprinella lutrensis blairi) became extinct in the late 1950s due to competition from the invasive plains killifish.[12][13]


The red shiner is a common bait fish, and the emptying of bait buckets containing them is believed to be the main cause of introduction of this species into new areas. It is also commonly used as an aquarium fish.[11] It has become a species of special concern in the United States, as it has been implicated in the decline of native fish populations in the areas where it has been introduced. As previously mentioned, red shiners have been known to eat the eggs of native fish and in doing so hinder the growth of those populations.[5] They are also adapted to thrive in a variety of environments, and as generalists, may be better able to persist in disturbed habitats than native species of those areas. Red shiners are capable of hybridizing with the blacktail shiner (Cyprinella venusta stigmatura), a native species found in the Coosa River, which serves to dilute the gene pool of this species.[6]


  1. ^ NatureServe.; Lyons, T.J. (2019). "Cyprinella lutrensis". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2019: e.T191260A129687569. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2019-2.RLTS.T191260A129687569.en. Retrieved 12 November 2021.
  2. ^ a b c Farringer R.T., III, A.A. Echelle, and S.F. Lehtinen. 1979. Reproductive cycle of the red shiner, Notropis lutrensis, in central Texas and south central Oklahoma. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society, 108, 271-276.
  3. ^ Mayden, R.L. 1989. Phylogenetic studies of North American minnows, with emphasis on the genus Cyprinella (Teleostei: Cypriniformes). The University of Kansas Museum of Natural History, Miscellaneous Publication, 80, 1-189.
  4. ^ Goldstein, R.M., & Simon, T.P. (1999). Toward a united definition of guild structure for feeding ecology of North American freshwater fishes, in T.P. Simon, editor. Assessing the sustainability and biological integrity of water resources using fish communities. CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida, 123-202
  5. ^ a b Ruppert, J.B., Muth, R.T., Nesler, T.P. (1993). Predation on Fish Larvae by Adult Red Shiner, Yampa and Green Rivers, Colorado. The Southwestern Naturalist, 38(4), 397-399.
  6. ^ a b c d Burkhead, N. M., & Huge, D. H. (2002). The Case of the Red Shiner:What Happens When a Fish Goes Bad? Retrieved October 13, 1872, from USGS:
  7. ^ Gale, W.F. (1986). Indeterminate fecundity and spawning behavior of captive red shiners - fractions, crevice spawners. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society, 115, 429-437.
  8. ^ Hubbs, C., Kuehne, R.A., Ball, J.C. (1953). The fishes of the upper Guadalupe River. Texas Journal of Science, 5(2), 216-244.
  9. ^ Cross, F.B. (1967). Handbook of fishes of Kansas. University of Kansas Museum of Natural History, Lawrence, 357.
  10. ^ Matthews, W.J., & Hill, L.G. (1979). Influence of physico-chemical factors on habitat selection by red shiners, Notropis lutrensis. Copeia, 70-81.
  11. ^ a b Nico, L., & Fuller, P. (2010). Cyprinella lutrensis. USGS Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL.
  12. ^ Jelks, H.L., S.J. Walsh, N.M. Burkhead, S. Contreras-Balderas, E. Díaz-Pardo, D.A. Hendrickson, J. Lyons, N.E. Mandrak, F. McCormick, J.S. Nelson, S.P. Platania, B.A. Porter, C.B. Renaud, J.J. Schmitter-Soto, E.B. Taylor and M.L. Warren Jr. (2008). Conservation status of imperiled North American freshwater and diadromous fishes. Fisheries 33(8): 372-407.
  13. ^ Texas Freshwater Fishes: Cyprinella lutrensis blairi. Texas State University – San Marcos, Department of Biology.