Blacktail shiners occur in gulf drainages. In the Mississippi River basin their range is from southern Illinois to Louisiana. The western range is Red River drainage to western Oklahoma (Page and Burr 1991). Blacktails live in a variety of habitats, but prefer flowing waters and are most abundant in areas with swift current, gravel bottoms and minimal aquatic vegetation.
These shiners have elongated to moderately deep bodies with moderately large head. The head is moderately large with a sharp snout and a terminal, large, and oblique mouth. A large, distinct spot at the base of the tail is typical. Coloration is dark olive along the back, coupled with a dark midline stripe. Sides are silvery white transitioning to a white belly. The anal and tail fins are light yellow, and all fins are edged in white. Blacktails are one of the larger shiners, reaching sizes of six inches and may live upwards of four years.
Spawning occurs from March through September when conditions permit. Blacktail shiners use rock crevices with good current as spawning sites. Males defend their crevice from other males, which will try to sneak in and deposit their milt first. After attracting a female, the pair swims along the crevice and the female deposits her eggs into it after the male has deposited his sperm. Any eggs that fail to make it into the crevice are typically eaten by the male. A clutch typically contains 100-400 eggs and females may deposit upwards of four dozen clutches throughout the spawning season.
Blacktail shiners feed primarily on aquatic insects found in the drift, but also consume algae, seeds, and terrestrial insects. Most feeding occurs during the day.
Blacktail Shiner in Texas
Cyprinella is Greek for "small carp" and venusta is Latin for "beautiful, like Venus." The blacktail shiner is a somewhat slender minnow with 8-9 rays on the anal fin, and a prominent black spot at the base of the tail fin. The back is usually yellowish-olive, and the sides are silvery with hints of blue. Adults in Texas have reached 4.6 inches in length.
Unlike the golden shiner, the blacktail shiner prefers flowing waters. It is usually most abundant in areas with little vegetation, swift current, and gravelly bottoms.
In Texas, blacktail shiners are unknown in the Panhandle, being found primarily from the Edwards Plateau eastward.
Courtesy of Texas Parks and Wildlife