The common shiner has an olive back with a dark dorsal stripe. Its sides are silvery and sometimes have a bronze tinge. The body is strongly laterally compressed fish and its head and mouth are large. The origin of the dorsal fin is directly over the origin of the pelvic fins. Anal fin rays 9-12 (25% of population may have only 8 rays). The lateral line is slightly curved downwards with 40 – 44 scales along its length.The scales are noticeably taller than wide (twice as high as wide). The average size of the common shiner is 2 – 4 inches, but can grow up to 8 inches.
The common shiner prefers faster pools in rivers and streams, but is also found in lakes. Food items of the common shiner include terrestrial and aquatic insects, vegetation, and other fishes. Spawning occurs from spring to early summer. The male fish develops red to orange colour on the tips of its fins and tubercles on its head. The male will dig a nest in gravel or may use the nest of another fish. After eggs are deposited the male will guard the nest. L ike the golden shiner, the common shiner is popular bait among anglers. Natural predators include larger fish like smallmouth bass and chain pickerel, and birds, such as mergansers and kingfishers.
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