• Family: Cyprinidae (minnows and carps)
• Other Names: None
• Ohio Status: No special status
• Adult Size: Typically 4-6 inches, can reach 8 inches.
• Typical Foods: Various aquatic invertebrates and some terrestrial insects.
The common shiner is a deep-bodied and slab-sided large species of minnow. They have large scales and silvery sides with a darker colored back. They usually have a few dark colored scales which look like dark blotches along their sides. Despite their name they are far less common in Ohio than the closely related striped shiner. They are only found in Northern Ohio rather than throughout the state like the striped shiner. The best way to distinguish common shiners from striped shiners is to look at the scales directly behind the head on their back. On a common shiner these scales are smaller than the scales on the rest of the back and appeared squished together and on a striped shiner they are relatively evenly sized compared to the rest of the scales on the back. Breeding male common shiners get a bright pinkish-red coloration on their sides, lower fins, and rear edge of their tail. They also get small pointy bumps on their head called tubercles which they use to defend territories from rival males.
Habitat and Habits
Common shiners are found across the northern edge of Ohio and are found a little further south in the eastern half of the state. They are found in small to medium sized streams with relatively clear water and clean gravel and sand substrates. They are far less abundant than the closely related striped shiner. They spend most of their time in deeper pools and can often be seen eating insects off the surface. Common shiners can be caught hook and line by stream fisherman.
Reproduction and Care of the Young
Common shiners spawn in large schools at the top or bottom end of a riffle. Males dig out shallow pits with their tails in course sand or fine gravel substrates. The eggs of many females are then scattered into these shallow nests. After spawning the adults return to deeper pools where they spend most of their time. After hatching the young drift down stream and spend their time near the edge of pools in shallow water.