Emerald shiners are native to Texas north through the Mississippi basin and much of Canada east of the Rockies. As an important forage fish for game fish they have been stocked outside their native range. They typically live in large, deep lakes and rivers and prefer clear waters, although they have a tolerance for turbid waters. Generally found in large school in open water where the move to the surface under low light to feed. Shiners don’t appear to have a preference for a particular substrate, but they do seem to avoid dense vegetation.
Emerald shiners are small, 2-4 inches, slender silvery fish with a terminal mouth, rounded nose and large eyes. Their sides are compressed with an iridescent emerald green or bluish hue. Fins are transparent with no spots or markings. Scales are easily rubbed off. Their maximum size is less than six inches and they seldom live past four years.
Emerald shiners are broadcast spawners, spawning open water. They do use any particular substrate for spawning and no parental care is given. Spawning occurs during July and August. Shiners become sexually mature at 2 years.
Zooplankton, insect larvae, and small flying insects such as midges are the primary forage, although algae and terrestrial insects have been found in their stomachs.