Golden Shiner (Notemigonus crysoleucas)

Golden Shiner (Notemigonus crysoleucas)

The golden shiner is a prominent and widespread minnow of the Cyprinidae family. These fish are important forage species for predators and are widely used in various sizes as bait by anglers.


The golden shiner has a deep, compressed body that is generally golden yellow or brass colored in turbid water, varying to more silvery in clear water. The fins are yellow green but become reddish in large spawning adults. The mouth is small and upturned with a slightly pointed snout, and there is a distinctive fleshy, scaleless keel along the belly from the pelvic to the anal fin.

The dusky lateral line of the golden shiner noticeably dips down in the middle of the body, and the caudal fin is moderately forked. The color of the fins is more pronounced during breeding season; the breeding male develops fine tubercles on the dorsal surface of the head and the body. The golden shiner has 7 to 9 dorsal rays and 8 to 19 anal rays.


Golden shiners can grow to 10.5 to 12 inches in length, although the average size varies with the environment. Many northerly waters are likely to produce smaller fish on average, and 3 to 5 inches is the norm in many places. These fish reportedly live for up to 10 years.

Spawning behavior

Golden shiners reach sexual maturity in their second year when they are usually 2.5 to 3.5 inches long, and spawn over an extended period, commencing in the spring when water temperatures exceed 68°F. They do not prepare nests, as many other shiners and minnows do; rather, they scatter adhesive eggs over algae and other aquatic vegetation and do not exhibit parental care.


The food of golden shiners consists of plankton, algae, insects, and small fish; they feed in midwater and at or near the surface.

Other Names

roach, shad roach, shiner, pond shiner.


This species is widely distributed east of the Rockies in the central and eastern United States, ranging from Quebec to Saskatchewan in the north, and to Florida, Texas, and Mexico in the south. It has been introduced elsewhere, including Arizona, California, and Washington.


Slow-water fish, golden shiners are prevalent in lakes, ponds, backwaters, and the slower parts of streams and small to medium rivers. They are common in weedy, clean, quiet, and shallow waters.