Emerald shiner

The emerald shiner (Notropis atherinoides) is one of hundreds of small, silvery, slender fish species known as shiners. The identifying characteristic of the emerald shiner is the silvery emerald color on its sides. It can grow to 3.5 inches in length and is found across North America from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico, commonly in large, deep lakes and rivers, though sometimes in smaller bodies of water as well. It feeds on small organisms such as zooplankton and insects, congregating in large groups near the surface of the water. It is a quite common fish and is often used as a bait fish.

Emerald shiner
Emerald shiner.jpg
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Cypriniformes
Family: Cyprinidae
Subfamily: Leuciscinae
Genus: Notropis
N. atherinoides
Binomial name
Notropis atherinoides
  • Minnilus dinemus Rafinesque, 1820
  • Alburnus nitidus Kirtland, 1854
  • Alburnus acutus Lapham, 1854
  • Alburnus dilectus Girard, 1856
  • Alburnus lepidulus Girard, 1856
  • Alburnus oligaspis Cope, 1865
  • Alburnellus jaculus Cope, 1867
  • Leuciscus copii Günther, 1868
  • Notropis louisianae Evermann, 1898


Emerald shiners are native to North America; they are widely distributed throughout Canada, and south to Virginia and Texas.[2] They range to the gulf coast from Texas to Alabama, and are especially prevalent in the Mississippi Basin.[1] Emerald shiners are most likely the most abundant fish in the Mississippi.[1]

Physical descriptionEdit


Maximum size is 89–127 mm. Females are larger than males.[3][4]


Live emerald shiners are a bright, iridescent, silvery green with a silver mid-lateral band. The back and upper sides are emerald greenish to straw colored, and the ventral side of the fish is a silvery white color. The dorsal scales have pigmented margins and clear centers. The area between the nostril and the eye lacks pigment, and the lips are pigmented medially and continues to halfway down the midline of the lower jaw. The dorsal, caudal, and leading rays of the pectoral fins are lined with pigment, but the remaining fin rays and membranes are clear. The underside of the opercle are gray.[5] There are no nuptial colors exhibited by either sex.[6]

Body morphologyEdit

Shiners have a slender, laterally flattened, and compressed body type. The dorsal fin is transparent, with 8 rays located right behind the insertion of the pelvic fins.[3] They have 9–12 anal fin rays, 35–43 lateral line scales, 19–20 pre-dorsal scale rows, 14–16 pectoral fin rays, and 8–9 pelvic fin rays.[7] The mouth is large and in the terminal and oblique position, and does not have a barbel.[3] The pharyngeal teeth are hooked, and are in a 2, 4–4, 2 or 1, 4–4, 1 pattern.[3] Shiners have a short and blunt snout, and the upper lip is separated from the skin of the snout by a deep groove that is continuous across the midline. The cartilaginous ridge of the lower jaw is not very evident.[8][5]


Living in freshwater, emerald shiners are benthopelagic.[2] They live in large open rivers, lakes, and reservoirs.[1] In medium-sized habitats the temperature preference for the shiner is 25 °C (77 °F), and they are tolerant of low oxygen levels.[9][10] It is a midwater or near-surface species that usually lives in large or moderately sized schools.[3] Some shiners are tolerant of turbidity in streams, but others avoid turbid streams.[1] They are most commonly seen in clear water over sand or gravel.[1]

Diet habitsEdit

Shiners are planktivores, feeding on a variety of zooplankton, protozoans and diatoms.[3] They move with a planktonic food source up toward the surface at dusk, and move back down at dawn.[11] Both aquatic and terrestrial insects obtained at the surface of the water are a small portion of their diet.[3] Algae and plants are also eaten, during spring especially.[4][12][13][14]

Importance to humansEdit

Emerald shiners are used for fishing bait, especially for winter fishing because of the shiner's hardiness in cold weather.[15] They are also an important resource for other animals to forage.[16][17] The glistening sides of the shiner, along with its graceful movements make it a good aquarium fish.

Conservation statusEdit

Currently, this species is of relatively low conservation concern and does not require significant additional protection or major management, monitoring, or research action.[1] The IUCN Red List status of the emerald shiner is of least concern.[2] Other than being caught for use in fish bait, emerald shiners are preyed upon by birds (gulls, terns, mergansers, cormorants) and fishes.[2]

Life spanEdit

The maximum reported age of emerald shiners is four to five years.[2] Females live longer than males, and all older fish that have been found were female.[4][12][13]


Emerald shiners are oviparous.[2] Females have been known to spawn anywhere from late spring (mid-May) to late summer (mid-August).[3][10] Spawning is temperature dependent, and begins around 22.2 °C (72.0 °F).[4] This is known as the threshold temperature.[4] In Canada, females have been found to spawn in temperatures ranging from 20.1–23.2 °C (68.2–73.8 °F).[13] Emerald shiners tend to spawn near the surface in open water near boulders and gravel shoals.[4][13] Eggs usually hatch between 24–32 hours.[3] They are pelagic spawners with numerous buoyant eggs that have none or poorly-developed respiratory organs, and little pigment.[11]

Spawning occurs at night, about 1 to 2 feet below the surface, milling and darting in a circular path.[4] Smaller males tend to pursue larger females, and the pairs swim together in a circle. The male presses closely on one side of the female, interlocking pectoral fins and gyrating.[4] The female then rolls over and eggs are released for the male to fertilize.[4] Males are mature at 55–60 mm, and females at 65 mm.[4][13][12]

Etymology of nameEdit

Notropis, comes from the Greek noton, meaning "back keel". The species name atherinoides comes from the Greek atherina, meaning silverside; and from the Greek suffix oides, meaning resemblance.


Emerald shiners resemble members of the silverside family, hence the species name atherinoides, silverside-like. This is in reference to the Old World silverside family.[2]

Other common names include: Buckery shiner, common emerald shiner, lake shiner, lake silver side, plains shiner, river emerald shiner, shiner.[3]

Plains shiner (Notropis percobromus) was recently incorporated into the emerald shiner species designation.[3]

External linksEdit

  • A fact sheet by Earl J. S. Rook – part of a collection of fact sheets put together on organisms found in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area.
  • Ohio Department of Natural Resources life history notes
  • "Notropis atherinoides". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 12 June 2006.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g NatureServe (2016). "Notropis atherinoides". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2016. Retrieved 14 April 2017.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2018). "Notropis atherinoides" in FishBase. June 2018 version.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Rook, Earl J.S. "Notropis Atherinoides Emerald Shiner." Emerald Shiner. 1999. [1]
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Flittner, G.A. (1964). Morphometry and life history of the emerald shiner, Notropis atherinoides Rafinesque (Ph.D. diss.). Univ. Michigan, Ann Arbor.
  5. ^ a b Hubbs, C., R.J. Edwards and G.P. Garret. 1991. An annotated checklist of freshwater fishes of Texas, with key to identification of species. Texas Journal of Science, Supplement 43(4):1–56.
  6. ^ Ross, S.T. 2001. Inland fishes of Mississippi. University Press of Mississippi, Jackson Mississippi. 624 pp.
  7. ^ Etnier, D.A., and W.C. Starnes. 1993. The Fishes of Tennessee. The University of Tennessee Press, Knoxville. 681 pp.
  8. ^ Bailey, R.M., and M.O. Allum. 1962. Fishes of South Dakota. Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. 131 pp.
  9. ^ Matthews, William J.; Maness, Joseph D. (1979). "Critical thermal maxima, oxygen tolerances and success of cyprinid fishes in a southwestern river". American Midland Naturalist. 102 (2): 374–377. doi:10.2307/2424665. JSTOR 2424665.
  10. ^ a b Hassan-Williams, Carla, and Timothy H. Bonner. "Emerald Shiner Notropis Atherinoides." Emerald Shiner Notropis Atherinoides. Texas State University, 2007. [2]
  11. ^ a b Simon, T. P. 1999. Assessing the sustainability and biological integrity of water resources using fish communities. CRC Press. Boca Raton; London; New York; Washington.
  12. ^ a b c Fuchs, Everett H. (1967). "Life history of the emerald shiner, Notropis atherinoides, in Lewis and Clark Lake, South Dakota". Transactions of the American Fisheries Society. 96 (3): 247–256. doi:10.1577/1548-8659(1967)96[247:lhotes]2.0.co;2.
  13. ^ a b c d e Campbell, J. S.; MacCrimmon, H. R. (1970). "Biology of the emerald shiner Notropis atherinoides Rafinesque in Lake Simcoe, Canada". Journal of Fish Biology. 2 (3): 259–273. doi:10.1111/j.1095-8649.1970.tb03284.x.
  14. ^ Hartman, Kyle J.; Vondracek, Bruce; Parrish, Donna L.; Muth, Kenneth M. (1992). "Diets of emerald and spottail shiners and potential interactions with other western Lake Erie planktivorous fishes". Journal of Great Lakes Research. 18 (1): 43–50. doi:10.1016/s0380-1330(92)71273-8.
  15. ^ Becker, G.C. 1983. Fishes of Wisconsin. The University of Wisconsin Press, Madison. 1052 pp.
  16. ^ Boschung, H.T., Jr., and R.L. Mayden. 2004. Fishes of Alabama. Smithsonian Books, Washington. 736 pp.
  17. ^ Scott, W.B., and E.J. Crossman. 1973. Freshwater Fishes of Canada. Fisheries Research Board of Canada, Ottawa. 966 pp.