Golden Shiner

Golden shiner male, side view photo with black background
Scientific Name
Notemigonus crysoleucas
Cyprinidae (minnows) in the order Cypriniformes (carps, minnows, and loaches)

The golden shiner is a deep-bodied minnow, back greenish-olive with a faint dusky stripe along the midline. Sides are golden or silvery, and the belly is silvery white. Has a fleshy “keel” along midline of the belly from the anus forward to the pelvic fin bases. One of the largest minnows native to Missouri and the only minnow with a fleshy keel. The tail fin of breeding males is often orange-red.


Total length: 3 to 6 inches; maximum to about 8 inches.

Where To Find
image of Golden Shiner Distribution Map

Widespread in Missouri, most abundant in prairie and Ozark border streams of west-central and northeast Missouri, and in southeast lowlands.

Largest populations found in sloughs, ponds, lakes, impoundments, and quiet pools of streams. Rarely found in stream sections with noticeable current. Tolerates moderate turbidity, but thrives in clear, heavily vegetated habitats.

Both plant material and invertebrates, in about equal quantities.

Life Cycle

Individuals rarely live more than six years.

An important bait fish, well suited for pond culture, it is often stocked as prey for game fish.

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About Fishes in Missouri
Missouri has more than 200 kinds of fish, more than are found in most neighboring states. Fishes live in water, breathe with gills, and have fins instead of legs. Most are covered with scales. Most fish in Missouri “look” like fish and could never be confused with anything else. True, lampreys and eels have snakelike bodies — but they also have fins and smooth, slimy skin, which snakes do not.