Picture by Chad Thomas, Texas State University-San Marcos



Luxilus chrysocephalus

striped shiner



Type Locality

Luxilus chrysocephalus chrysocephalus (central striped shiner) – “Kentucky” (Rafinesque 1820:48).


Luxilus chrysocephalus isolepis (southern striped shiner) – Mountain Fork River, McCurtain County, Oklahoma (Hubbs and Brown in: Ortenburger and Hubbs 1927).


Etymology/Derivation of Scientific Name

Lux - light, illu - small, connotating a small shiny fish, hence the name shiner; chryso - golden, cephalus - head, referring to occasional gold iridescence along back; iso - equal, lepis - scales, referring to its more regular scale pattern (Scharpf 2005).



Gilbert (1961) elevated Luxilus chrysocephalus to specific rank. Currently, two subspecies are recognized: L. c. chrysocephalus Rafinesque and L. c. isolepis Hubbs and Brown. L. c. isolepis is the subspecies found in Texas. See Gilbert (1964) for detailed synonymy.


Notropis cornutus isolepis Hubbs and Brown in: Ortenburger and Hubbs 1927:129.

Luxilus cornutus isolepis Page and Burr 1991:110.

Notropis chrysocephalus isolepis Gilbert 1964:167-172; Gilbert 1980:256.

Luxilus chrysocephalis isolepis Gilbert 1992:138-142.



Maximum size: 175 mm (6.89 in) (Gilbert 1964).


Coloration: Scales on dorsal region with dark markings forming longitudinal stripes (Hubbs et al. 2008). Gilbert (1964) described coloration of L. c. isolepis: dorso-lateral scale pockets darkest around edges which, with the intensification of pigment caused by the overlapping scales, results in three straight, well-defined, parallel stripes running lengthwise along dorso-lateral part of back, the stripes converging posteriorly with those from opposite side to give the appearance of long, narrow, parallel “Vs” when viewed from above; pigment always present on chin and gular region in often with a streak of black running posteriorly down gular membrane; crescent-shaped bars on side of body present; olive-brown dorsum (Gilbert 1964). Various degrees of yellow, rose, or red pigment present on body and fins of breeding males (Gilbert 1964, 1992).


Counts: Pharyngeal teeth 2,4-4,2 or 1,4-4,1; more than 18 predorsal scales; usually 9-12 anal soft fin rays; fewer than 45 lateral line scales; fewer than 10 dorsal fin soft rays (Hubbs et al. 2008).


Mouth position: Terminal and oblique (Gilbert 1992; Hubbs et al. 2008).


Body shape: Deep and compressed (Gilbert 1964).Origin of dorsal fin opposite insertion of pelvic fin; dorsal origin nearer tip of snout than base of caudal fin; distance from anal fin origin to end of caudal peduncle goes 2.5 or fewer times in distance from tip of snout to anal fin origin (Hubbs et al. 2008).


Morphology: Exposed portions of lateral line scales greatly elevated; dorsal fin more triangular, the last fin ray less than ½ the length of the longest; first obvious dorsal fin ray a thin splint, closely attached to the following well developed but unbranched ray; lower lip thin, without fleshy lobes; lateral line usually not decurved, either straight or with a broad arch; premaxillaries protractile; upper lip separated from skin of snout by a deep groove continuous across the midline (Hubbs et al. 2008). Nuptial tubercles present in males only and straight at tips (Gilbert 1964).  Intestine short, forming a simple S-shaped loop (Hubbs et al. 2008).


Distribution (Native and Introduced)

U.S. distribution: The subspecies that is found in Texas, L. c. isolepis, occurs throughout the south-central United States (Hubbs et al. 2008). L. c. isolepis is found in the Mississippi River basin below confluence of White River (Arkansas) and Gulf drainages (except Coosa River system; Scharpf 2005). In Oklahoma, L. c. isolepis occurs in the Red River basin west at least to the Blue River (Miller and Robison 2004). L. c. isolepis intergrades with L. c. chrysocephalus in the upper Black Warrior River system, lower Coosa River system, and lower Tennessee River drainages in Alabama and Tennessee (Boschung and Mayden 2004).


Texas distribution: The southern striped shiner, Luxilus chrysocephalus isolepis, is the subspecies that is found in this state; its range is very limited in Texas, occuring only in the northeast corner of the state in tributaries of the Red, Sulphur and Cypress drainages (Hubbs et al. 2008).


Abundance/Conservation status (Federal, State, Non-governmental organizations)

 In Texas, L. c. isolepis, was listed as Currently Stable in the southern United States by Warren et al. (2000); common (Scharpf 2005). L. c. isolepis was the second most abundant species collected during 11 quarterly sampling events (from January 2003 to August 2005) from Little Sandy , Tiger and Odom creeks, Louisiana (Red River drainage basin; Tyrone 2007). Gilbert (1992) reported “Rare” status (FCREPA list) for L. c. isolepis in Florida.


Habitat Associations

Macrohabitat: L. c. chrysocephalus ordinarily found in small to medium-sized streams (Gilbert 1964). L. c. isolepis (both larvae and adults) was most abundant in headwaters of the Lower Little Creek watershed, southern Mississippi (Pearl River Drainage; Brenneman 1992).


Mesohabitat: L. c. chrysocephalus usually found in clear streams, having a moderate to swift currents, and alternate pools and riffles, the latter with a gravel and/or rubble substrate (Gilbert 1964). In the Lower Little Creek watershed, southern Mississippi (Pearl River Drainage), L. c. isolepis larvae were significantly more abundant in upper stream reaches than lower stream reaches from May-July (Brenneman 1992); larvae collected primarily near surface of eddies on the downstream side of snags or other structures extending into stream. Slack (1996) reported that L. c. isolepis commonly (> 60% of all floods) occurred on floodplains of Beaverdam Creek, in southern Mississippi (Pascagoula River drainage) during 35 flooding events.



Little information is available regarding Luxilus chrysocephalus isolepis; life history and ecology of this subspecie is            probably very similar to that of L. c. chrysocephalus Rafinesque (Gilbert 1964).


Spawning season: In the Lower Little Creek watershed, southern Mississippi (Pearl River Drainage), L. c. isolepis spawned from May into October, with peak spawning from May to July (Brenneman 1992); also, abundances of upper reach larvae seemed to suggest multiple clutch production over a protracted spawning season.


Spawning habitat: In Ohio, spawning of L. c. chrysocephalus observed in shallow water over depression in the gravel of stream bed; depression was 5-15 cm deeper than surrounding substrate and was clear of the brownish diatoms and sediment that covered surrounding rocks (Gleason and Berra 1993).


Spawning behavior: In Ohio, activity over the nest by L. c. chrysocephalus consisted mainly of male-male interactions, with males swimming parallel and attempting to aggressively butt each other with their heads; large males observed picking up gravel with their mouths, apparently helping to maintain the nest; spawning took place during the day when the nest was brightly lit (Gleason and Berra 1993). Simon (1999) classified the species Luxilus chrysocephalus as: nonguarder; brood hider; lithophil – rock and gravel spawner that does not guard its eggs (reproductive behavior of Luxilus chrysocephalus apparently similar to that of Luxilus cornutus, the common shiner; Hankinson 1932; Raney 1940; Gilbert 1964).


Fecundity:  No information at this time.


Age at maturation:  No information at this time.


Migration: No information at this time.


Growth and Population structure:  No information at this time.


Longevity: May reach 5th year (based on study of the subspecies L. c. chrysocephalus; Marshall 1939).


Food habits: Hambrick and Hibbs (1976) studied food habits and feeding activity of Luxilus chrysocephalus isolepis in Bayou Sara, Louisiana: omnivorous; major food items were filamentous algae and terrestrial arthopods; the subspecies consumed almost equal portions of plant and animal matter during the day and mainly plant matter at night; feeding activity apparently continuous with no feeding peak. Goldstein and Simon (1999) classified Luxilus chrysocephalus as an invertivore; benthic and drift, citing the Gillen and Hart (1980) study of the subspecies L. c. chrysocephalus in Pennsylvania: dominate diet items were aquatic and terrestrial insects; other food items included small crayfishes, fish eggs, small fishes, algae and detritus.


Phylogeny and morphologically similar fishes

Natural hybridization between L. c. isolepis and C. anomalum (central stoneroller) in Clark Creek, Mississippi has been reported (Grady and Cashner 1988; Scribner et al. 2001).  Luxilus chrysocephalus isolepis is distinguished from the subspecies L. c. chrysocephalus (which is not found in Texas) in having lower average dorsolateral and body circumferential scale counts and especially in having the dorsolateral stripes distinctly straighter (Gilbert 1964,1992). 


According to T. Dowling (pers. comm. in: Scharpf 2005), genetic study indicates that the subspecies L. c. isolepis should probably be split into two additional species, one in the Red River, Oklahoma, and the other in the Ouachita River, Arkansas. Boschung and Mayden (2004) stated that both currently recognized subspecies, L. c. chrysocephalus and L. c. isolepis, will likely be considered species in the future.  According to J.R. Gold (pers. comm. in: Boschung and Mayden 2004) and W.J. Matthews (pers. comm., 2003 in: Miller and Robison 2004), the L. chrysocephalus population in Blue River (Oklahoma) may be distinct enough to warrant designation as a separate species. Gold and Zoch (1990) discussed intraspecific variation in chromosomal nucleolus organizer regions in L. chrysocephalus.


Host Records

       Dactylogyrus perlus (Monogenea: Dactylogyridae) from L. c. isolepis (Cloutman and Rogers 2005).


Commercial or Environmental Importance

No information at this time.




Boschung, H.T., Jr., and R.L. Mayden. 2004. Fishes of Alabama. Smithsonian Books, Washington. 736 pp.


Brenneman, W.M. 1992. Ontogenetic aspects of upper and lower stream reach cyprinid assemblages in a south Mississippi watershed. Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Southern Mississippi. 96 pp.


Cloutman, D.G., and W.A. Rogers. 2005. Determination of the Dactylogyrus banghami complex (Monogenea: Dactylogyridae) from North American Gulf of Mexico coastal drainages with descriptions of three new species. Comp. Parasitol. 72(1):10-16.


Gilbert, C.R. 1961. Hybridization versus intergradation: an inquiry into the relationship of two cyprinid fishes. Copeia 1961(2):181-192.


Gilbert, C.R. 1964. The American cyprinid fishes of the subgenus Luxilus (genus Notropis). Bull. Florida State Museum Biol. Sci. 8(2):95-194.

Gilbert, C.R. 1980. Notropis chrysocephalus (Rafinesque), Striped shiner. pp. 256 in D. S. Lee et al., Atlas of North American Freshwater Fishes. N. C. State Mus. Nat. Hist., Raleigh, i-r+854 pp.


Gilbert, C.R. 1992. Southern Striped Shiner, Luxilus chrysocephalus isolepis. pp 138-142 in: Gilbert, C.R. (ed.). Rare and Endangered Biota of Florida, Volume 2, Fishes. University Press of Florida, Gainsville.

Gillen, A.L., and T.Hart. 1980. Feeding interrelationships between the sand shiner and the striped shiner. The Ohio Journal of Science 80:71-76.

Gleason, C.A., and T.M. Berra. 1993. Demonstration of reproductive isolation and observation of mismatings in Luxilus cornutus and L. chrysocephalus. Copeia 1993(3):614-628.

Gold, J.R., and P.K. Zoch. 1990. Intraspecific variation in chromosomal nucleolus organizer regions in Notropis chrysocephalus (Pisces: Cyprinidae). The Southwestern Naturalist 35(2):211-215.

Goldstein, R.M., and T.P. Simon. 1999. Toward a united definition of guild structure for feeding ecology of North American freshwater fishes. pp. 123-202 in T.P. Simon, editor. Assessing the sustainability and biological integrity of water resources using fish communities. CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida. 671 pp.


Grady J.M., and Cashner R.C. 1988. Evidence of extensive intergeneric hybridization among cyprinid fauna of Clark Creek, Wilkinson Co., Mississippi. Southwestern Naturalist 33(2):137–146.


Hambrick, P.S., and R.G. Hibbs, Jr. 1976. Spring diel feeding activity of the southern striped shiner, Notropis chrysocephalus isolepis Hubbs and Brown, in Bayou Sara, Louisiana. Proc. Louisiana Acad. Sci. 39:16-18.


Hankinson, T.L. 1932. Observations on the breeding behavior and habitats of fishes in southern Michigan. Pap. Mich. Acad. Sci. Arts. Lett. 15: 411–425.


Hubbs, C., R.J. Edwards, and G.P. Garrett. 2008. An annotated checklist of the freshwater fishes of Texas, with keys to identification of species. Texas Journal of Science, Supplement, 2nd edition 43(4):1-87.


Marshall, N. 1939. Annulus formation in scales of the common shiner, Notropis cornutus chrysocephalus. Copeia 1939(3):148-154. 


Miller, R.J., and H.W. Robison. 2004. Fishes of Oklahoma. University of Oklahoma Press, Norman. 450 pp.


Ortenburger, A.I., and C.L. Hubbs. 1927. A report on the fishes of Oklahoma, with descriptions of new genera and species. Proc. Okla. Acad. Sci. 6(1926):123-141.


Page, L. M. & B. M. Burr.  1991.  A field guide to freshwater fishes of North America north of Mexico.  Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, Massachusetts. 432 pp.

Rafinesque, C.S. 1820. Ichthyologia ohiensis, or natural history of the fishes inhabiting the river Ohio and its tributary streams preceded by a physical description of the Ohio and its branches. W.G. Hunt, Lexington, Kentucky. 90 pp.

Raney, E.C. 1940. The breeding behavior of the common shiner, Notropis cornutus (Mitchill). Zoologica 25(1):1-14.


Robison, H.W., and T.M. Buchanan. 1988. Fishes of Arkansas. University of Arkansas Press, Fayetteville. 536 pp.


Scharpf, C. 2005. Annotated checklist of North American freshwater fishes including subspecies and undescribed forms, Part 1: Petromyzontidae through Cyprinidae. American Currents, Special Publication 31(4):1-44.

Simon, T. P. 1999. Assessment of Balon’s reproductive guilds with application to Midwestern North American Freshwater Fishes, pp. 97-121. In: Simon, T.L. (ed.). Assessing the sustainability and biological integrity of water resources using fish communities. CRC Press. Boca Raton, Florida. 671 pp.

Slack, W.T. 1996. Fringing floodplains and assemblage structure of fishes in the DeSoto National Forest, Mississippi. Ph.D. Dissertation, University Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg. 102 pp.

Tyrone, R. 2007. Effects of upland timber harvest and road construction on headwater stream fish assemblages in a southeastern forest. M.S. Thesis, Texas State University – San Marcos. 33 pp.


Warren, M.L., Jr., B.M. Burr, S.J. Walsh, H.L. Bart, Jr., R.C. Cashner, D.A. Etnier, B.J. Freeman, B.R. Kuhajda, R.L. Mayden, H.W. Robison, S.T. Ross, and W.C. Starnes. 2000. Diversity, Distribution, and Conservation status of the native freshwater fishes of the southern United States. Fisheries 25(10):7-29.