Notemigonus crysoleucas
Golden Shiner

Golden Shiner

Flora, fauna, earth, and sky...
The natural history of the northwoods



  • Notemigonus, from the Greek, "angled back"
  • crysoleucas, from the Greek, "golden white"
  • Common Name from the characteristic golden sheen of the adult
  • Other common names include: Bream, Butterfish, Chub, Dace, Goldfish, Roach, Shad Roach, Sunfish, Méné Jaune (Qué)


  • Kingdom Animalia
    • Phylum Chordata, animals with a spinal chord
    • Subphylum Vertebrata, animals with a backbone
      • Superclass Osteichthyes, bony fishes
      • Class Actinopterygii, ray-finned and spiny rayed fishes
      • Subclass Neopterygii
      • Infraclass Teleostei
        • Superorder Ostariophysi
        • Order Cypriniformes, minnows and suckers
        • Family Cyprinidae, carps and minnows
          • Genus Notemigonus, the golden shiners


  • A relatively large, deep-bodied minnow.
  • Length
    • can exceed 10"
    • seldom more than 8", with most adults less than 6" long
    • females grow faster and larger than males
  • Weight
  • Coloration
    • dark green above
    • olive sides
    • brassy belly
    • distinctive golden sheen
    • young silvery with a dusky band along the side, fading with age as the fish takes on a golden color.
  • Body
    • deep and compressed laterally
    • covered with large, rather loosely attached gold or silver scales.
    • complete lateral line of 45-52 scales, strongly curved below center line
    • dorsal fin of 8 rays, set behind the pelvic fin
    • pelvic fins of 9 rays
    • pectoral fins of 15-17 rays
    • long anal fin of 11-13 rays, distinctly falcate shaped
    • no scales covering the belly ridge
  • Head
    • mouth small, terminal, and oblique
    • jaw does not extend to the eye or have a barbel
    • strongly hooked pharyngeal teeth, on slender arches, in a 5-5 pattern
  • Lifespan
    • mature at 2-3 years of age
    • maximum recorded is 9 years
  • Young differ significantly from adults, being silvery, not as slab-sided, and having a distinct lateral stripe from eye to tail fin.


  • Field Marks
    • lateral line strongly curved below the center line
    • long anal fin of 11-13 rays, falcate
    • no scales covering the belly ridge between the pelvic fins and anus


  • East Coast inland to the Mississippi River drainage, and throughout most of the Midwest.


  • Clear, weedy, quiet, shallows of lakes, ponds, and occasionally rivers. Easily adapting to muddy water, they prefer relatively clear, vegetated areas.
  • Found in large schools around submerged structures where they feed primarily on zooplankton.


  • Filter feeders, plankton make up a significant portion of the diet, but aquatic insects, molluscs, and aquatic vegetation are also consumed. Young feed primarily on plankton.
  • Important as forage for more popular game fish.



  • Excellent, commonly used bait fish. Its bright, flashing appearance has made it popular with anglers.
  • Used extensively in fisheries resource management programs as forage fish.
  • Larger specimens occasionally caught by anglers on worms or lures while fishing for panfish.


  • Spawns over an extended period from May to July. During the breeding season, the male exhibits a brilliant golden glow on his body and fins.
  • Females deposit up to 4,000 adhesive eggs over filamentous algae and submerged weed beds. After spawning, the eggs are abandoned.
  • Occasionally, eggs are deposited into the nest of a Largemouth Bass or some other centrarchid while the male centrarchid is still guarding the nest . This special behavior assures greater hatching success for the golden shiner eggs.
  • Eggs hatch in 3-4 days at 17-21 C. Newly hatched larvae remain on the bottom of the nesting area until the yolk sac is absorbed. Once the larvae are able to swim, they are found near the surface or periphery of the littoral zone.
  • Larvae school with their own species or with centrarchid larvae, feeding on small insects, cladocerans, and zooplankton. Young fish grow to a length of 4 inches during their first year.



Boreal border

Last updated on 15 October 1999