Picture by Chad Thomas, Texas State University-San Marcos



Notemigonus crysoleucas

golden shiner



Type Locality

New York (Mitchill 1814 in: Eschmeyer 1990).


Etymology/Derivation of Scientific Name

Notemigonus, Greek, “angled back;” crysoleucas, Greek, meaning “golden white,” in reference to the body color (Pflieger 1997).



Cyprinus crysoleucas Mitchill 1814 in: Eschmeyer 1990:23.

Notemigonus chrysoleucas Hay 1881:512, 1883:71.

Notemigonus crysoleucas Hildebrand and Towers 1928:117; Cook 1959:103.



Maximum size: 367 mm (14.4 in) TL (McLane, 1955).


Coloration: Eyes and medial fins usually yellow-green (Hubbs et al 1991). Silver to olive green on back and upper sides, light gold or silver on lower sides, and silvery white undersides. Gold colors in fish inhabiting waters stained with tannins and silver colors in fish from clearer water. Fins clear to dusky. Males develop submarginal orange bands (more pronounced on leading rays) on the dorsal, caudal, anal, and pelvic fins, in the spring. Small fish have dark lateral band (Ross 2001).


Counts: Pharyngeal teeth in 0,4-4,0 or 0,5-5,0; 17-19 gill rakers on first gill arch (Hubbs et al 1991, 2008); 39-51 lateral line scales, 8 dorsal fin soft rays, 12-16 anal fin soft rays, 13-14 pectoral fin soft rays, and 9 (8-10) pelvic fin soft rays (Ross 2001).


Body shape: Deep, strongly compressed laterally; head triangular, small (Scott and Crossman 1973).


Mouth position: Oblique, nearly superior, opening narrow (Scott and Crossman 1973).


Morphology: Abdomen behind pelvic fins with fleshy keel over which the scales do not pass; gill rakers long and slender; lateral line greatly decurved; premaxillaries protractile; upper lip separated from skin of snout by a deep groove continuous across the midline; distance from origin of anal fin to end of caudal peduncle contained two and one-half or fewer times in distance from tip of snout to origin of anal fin (Hubbs et al 1991). Etnier and Starnes (1993) give a tubercle description provided by R. E. Jenkins: Nuptial males develop small, scattered tubercles on the side of the head from the internasal area to the occiput, on sides of the head, especially on posterior and ventral portions of opercles, and on lower jaw and brachiostegal rays; all lateral scales have several tiny, marginal tubercles; tiny tubercles occur on rays of all fins, including both dorsal and ventral surfaces of pectoral and pelvic fin rays.


Distribution (Native and Introduced)

U.S. distribution: Atlantic Slope from the Canadian Maritime Provinces south to Florida, west to Texas, and North to Saskatchewan (Lee 1980).


Texas distribution: Widely distributed throughout the state, primarily as a result of bait releases; species probably native only to the streams of eastern Texas (Hubbs et al 1991)


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

Populations in southern drainages are currently stable (Warren et al. 2000)


Habitat Associations

Macrohabitat: Water with access to shallow areas. Common to abundant in ponds and lakes. Often in streams and rivers where it may be abundant in sluggish areas (Lee 1980).


Mesohabitat: Slow, deep areas of streams and in oxbow lakes and reservoirs, commonly with submerged aquatic vegetation, but may also be fairly common in turbid oxbow lakes and sluggish streams (Cooper et al 1982); turbid waters of sluggish streams (Rose and Echelle 1981); turbid, shallow pools and riffles with sand and clay substrate, and turbid streams with very soft sand/silt substrate (Linam et al. 1994). Can survive at temperatures up to 40°C (104°F) (Alpaugh 1972). Enters brackish water (6.8 ppt. salt) in lower Mobile Delta (Swingle 1971).



Spawning season: In spring or summer, when water temperatures are above 20.6°C (69.1°F) (Cooper 1935).


Spawning habitat: Adhesive eggs attach to filamentous algae or other aquatic plants (Cooper 1935), and apparently sometimes over nests of largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides), as their larvae benefit from the guarding habits of the males (Kramer and Smith 1960; Chew 1974).


Spawning Behavior: No information at this time.


Fecundity: Up to 200, 000 (NCWRC 1962). Eggs measuring 1 mm (0.04 in) in diameter (Cooper 1935). Four day incubation at approximately 24-27°C (75.2-80.6°F) (Dobie et al. 1956).


Age at maturation: Second or third summer, depending on rate of growth; maturity usually reached at a total length of 64-89 mm (2.52-3.50 in) (Cooper 1935).


Migration: Diel migrations from the littoral to limnetic zone. Golden shiners schooled in the littoral zone during the day, breaking up and migrating to open water regions just after sunset (Hall et al. 1979).


Growth and Population structure: Studies on 1, 058 shiners from 20 Michigan natural water localities show an average growth rate of approximately 76 mm (3.00 in) TL during second summer, 102 mm (4.02 in) TL during third summer, 114 mm (4.45 in) TL during fourth summer, and 140 mm (5.51 in) TL during the sixth.  Females grow faster and attain a larger size (Cooper 1935). Newly hatched golden shiner larvae ranged from 4.0-4.3 mm (0.16-0.17 in) TL; For further larval development information see Buynak and Mohr (1980).


Longevity: Maximum age of eight summers; females live longer than males (Cooper 1935).


Food habits: Invertivore/herbivore; particulate feeder; midwater and surface feeder (Simon 1999). Main foods: Cladocera 90% by volume, flying insects 20%, chironomid pupae 30%, and filamentous algae (Keast and Webb 1966). Consume zooplankton during the lowlight hours after sunset and just before sunrise (Hall et al 1979). Will filter feed on smaller zooplankton, which may be beneficial when larger zooplankton are less abundant, or light level precludes capture of larger zooplankton (Ehlinger 1989).


Phylogeny and morphologically similar fishes

Notemigonous crysoleucas hybridizes with the morphologically similar rudd (Scardinius erythrophthalmus).  Notemigonous crysoleucas differs from S. erythrophthalmus in lacking bright red fins and in having an unscaled (as opposed to scaled) abdominal keel, a higher lateral scale count (39-51 versus 38-41), and more gill rakers (16-23 versus 10-13) (Burkhead and Williams 1991).


Host Records

Trematoda: Dactylogyrus auratus, Dactylogyrus aureus, Dactylogyrus parvicirrus, Posthodiplostomum minimum (Mayberry et al., 2000). Hoffman (1967) lists the following parasites from species in North American waters: protozoans

(2), trematodes (15), cestodes (3), nematodes (3), acanthocephalans (3), leeches (3), and crustaceans (3).


Commercial or Environmental Importance

Scott and Crossman (1973) stated, “The golden shiner may well be the most popular of all bait fishes in North America.”



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Kramer, R. H. and L.L. Smith. 1960. Utilization of nests of largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides by golden shiners (Notemigonus crysoleucas). Copeia 1960(1):73-74.

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