Golden Shiner (Notemigonus crysoleucas) - Native

20 cm golden shiner.

Adult golden shiners turn a bright, brassy gold and have reddish pelvic fins.

Identification. Adults deep-bodied; juveniles more streamlined. Small head and mouth. Tail forked. Anal rays greater than 12. Dorsal fin rays 8-9. Fleshy scaleless keel between pelvic fins and anus. Anal and dorsal fins slightly falcate (sickle-shaped). Lateral line curves downward. First ray of dorsal fin well behind first rays of pelvic fins. Adults are a brassy gold color. Juveniles are silvery. Pelvic fins are typically orange or reddish in adults. Small juveniles have a dusky lateral band.

6 cm golden shiner.

This 2-inch juvenile golden shiner is not golden at all, but still shows a downward curved lateral line and falcate (sickle-shaped) anal and dorsal fins.

Size. Commonly 3 to 9 inches. State survey max. size 10.6 inches. Max. reported size 12 inches.

Golden shiner.

Golden shiners at this size (3-4 inches) are commonly sold as bait.

Distribution. Widely distributed throughout North America. In Connecticut, golden shiners are found in almost all lakes and ponds and larger streams, where they are typically common in abundance.

Golden shiner distribution map.

Habits. Although young shiners may pop up almost anywhere, adults prefer lakes and ponds with at least moderate amounts of vegetation, and slower backwaters of larger streams and rivers. Larger golden shiners are sometimes caught by anglers on small bait such as worms.

Comments. This is our most common lake and pond minnow species and for that reason is often the most important and preferred prey species for predatory gamefish such as bass and pickerel. They are also the most widely sold baitfish, typically referred to as “pond shiners” or “Arkansas shiners.” Can be confused with the rudd, a European species that has established populations in both Massachusetts and New York.


Text and images adapted from Jacobs, R. P., O'Donnell, E. B., and Connecticut DEEP. (2009). A Pictorial Guide to Freshwater Fishes of Connecticut. Hartford, CT. Available for purchase at the DEEP Store. The fish distribution maps were created in 2009. For updated fish distributions please use the CT DEEP Fish Community Data Interactive Map.