Golden shiners are native to the eastern half North America, ranging from Saskatchewan in the north, south to Texas. This popular bait fish has been widely introduced throughout the west.
Golden shiners prefer quiet waters, such as lakes, ponds, sloughs, and occasionally are found in the quietest parts of rivers. Clear water with heavy aquatic vegetation is best, but they are tolerant of pollution, turbidity, low oxygen levels and high water temperatures (100 degrees Fahrenheit). Goldens tend to live in large schools.
These golden hued fish are deep bodied and laterally compressed. Their fins are reddish and the dorsal fin is soft rayed. The head is small, with a small, upturned mouth. Coloration is a light greenish olive to light orange along the back, with silvery or golden sides and a whitish belly. These shiners can exceed 12 inches in length, but typically are 3-7 inches long. Golden shiners release an alarm substance if the skin is broken. Other shiners in the area detect the substance and leave.
Spawning occurs from April to July, when shiners lay sticky eggs primarily on vegetation. No parental care. Golden shiners are known to practice egg dumping. They lay their eggs in the nests of other fish, such as sunfish, largemouth bass, or bowfins.
As omnivores, shiners diet includes a wide variety of items, such as crustaceans, filamentous algae, adult and immature insects, and plankton, crustaceans, aquatic insects, and algae. Feeding can occur anywhere throughout the water column. They are primarily visual feeders.
Golden Shiner in Texas
Both Notemigonus and crysoleucas are Greek, meaning "angled back" and "golden white" (a reference to the fish's color). The golden shiner is a deep-bodied minnow. There are 7-9 branched rays in the dorsal fin, and 8-19 branches rays in the anal fin. The mouth is small and upturned. The lateral line has a strong downward curve. The back is olive green, with a darker stripe along the midline. The sides range in color from silver to gold. In Texas, golden shiners in excess of 8 inches and weighing 0.25 pounds have been reported.
Spawning begins in the spring when water temperatures reach about 70°F and ceases when temperatures exceed 80°F. Sometimes spawning resumes in late summer if temperatures drop below 80°F. No nest is prepared. Adhesive eggs are scattered over algae or submerged vegetation and hatch in approximately 4 days under good conditions. Golden shiners are omnivorous. Plant material makes up about half the diet; the other half is animal material such as crustaceans, insects, and snails.
Typically, golden shiners prefer water with little to no current.
In Texas, the golden shiner is nearly ubiquitous, probably as a result of bait releases. It is believed to have been native only to east Texas streams.
Often used as a bait fish
Courtesy of Texas Parks and Wildlife