Cyprinella lutrensis
Cyprinella lutrensis
(Red Shiner)
Native Transplant
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Cyprinella lutrensis (Baird and Girard, 1853)

Common name: Red Shiner

Synonyms and Other Names: Notropis lutrensis

Taxonomy: available through www.itis.govITIS logo

Identification: Robison and Buchanan (1988); Page and Burr (1991); Pflieger (1997).

Size: 9 cm.

Native Range: Mississippi River basin from southern Wisconsin and eastern Indiana to South Dakota and Wyoming and south to Louisiana; Gulf drainages west of Mississippi River to Rio Grande, Texas, New Mexico, and Colorado. Absent in Ozark and Ouachita uplands (Page and Burr 1991).

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Puerto Rico &
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Guam Saipan
Native range data for this species provided in part by NatureServe NS logo
Interactive maps: Point Distribution Maps

Nonindigenous Occurrences: This species is known from the upper Tombigbee River, the Coosa River drainage, Lower Conasauga River, and reservoirs of the Chattahoochee River, Alabama (Boschung 1987, 1992; Mettee et al. 1996; Burkhead and Huge 2002); the Colorado River and its major tributaries in Arizona including the Gila and Virgin drainages and Montezuma Castle National Monument and Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Bill Williams River National Wildlife Refuge (Hubbs 1954; Miller and Lowe 1967; Minckley and Deacon 1968; Minckley 1973; Tyus et al. 1982; Greger and Deacon 1988; Stolzenburg 1992; USFWS 2005); the Colorado River, the San Joaquin River drainage, Salton Sea drainages, the Yolo Bypass, and the Los Angeles basin and certain surroundings areas in California (Hubbs 1954; Moyle 1976a, 1976b; Jennings and Saiki 1990; Swift et al. 1993; Dill and Cordone 1997; Sommer et al. 2001); the Colorado River and some of its tributaries in western Colorado (Everhart and Seaman 1971; Tyus et al. 1982; Woodling 1985); the Ocmulgee, Coosa, Etowah, Oostanaula, Coosawattee, and Chattahoochee river drainages in Georgia (Couch et al. 1995; Devivo and Freeman 1995; Burkhead et al. 1997; Burkhead and Huge 2002); in northeastern Illinois including lagoons of Lake Michigan in Chicago (Hubbs and Lagler 1958) and Channel Lake, Fox River drainage, in Lake County (Smith 1979); Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge (USFWS 2005) and Dickey Brook in New Salem, Massachusetts (Hartel et al. 1996); Boyer Chute National Wildlife Refuge, Washington County, Nebraska (USFWS 2005); portions of the Colorado River basin in Nevada including the lower Virgin River, Moapa River, and Lake Mead National Recreation Area (Bradley and Deacon 1967; Branson 1968; Cross 1975; Deacon and Williams 1984; Greger and Deacon 1988; Tilmant 1999; Vinyard 2001), and the Moapa River (Deacon and Bradley 1972; Cross 1976); portions of the Colorado River basin in New Mexico including the San Juan, Gila, and San Francisco drainages (Tyus et al. 1982; Sublette et al. 1990; Stolzenburg 1992); portions of Atlantic Coastal drainages in North Carolina including the Yadkin, Pee Dee, Haw and Roanoke river drainages (Moore et al. 1976; Hocutt et al. 1986; Menhinick 1991; W. Starnes, pers. comm); the Pee Dee River drainage in South Carolina (Hocutt et al. 1986); portions of the Colorado River basin in Utah including the Green, White, and Virgin river drainages, Arches and Canyonlands National Parks, Dinosaur National Monument, and Glen Canyon National Recreation Area (Holden and Stalnaker 1975b; Tyus et al. 1982; Deacon 1988; B. Schmidt, personal communication; Tilmant 1999); the Roanoke River drainage in Virginia (Hocutt et al. 1986); and from the Green River drainage, Colorado River basin, Wyoming (Tyus et al. 1982).

Means of Introduction: The origin of most introduced Red Shiner populations can be attributed to bait bucket releases; however, initial introduction is often followed by the species' rapid multiplication, dispersal, and aggressive colonization (e.g., Hubbs and Lagler 1958; Minckley and Deacon 1968; Minckley 1973). In some areas dispersal of introduced populations has been aided by the presence of irrigation ditches and canals (e.g., Jennings and Saiki 1990). Koehn (1965) mentioned that the species has been introduced as a forage fish. According to Dill and Cordone (1997), it was introduced into northern California as forage, not as a bait minnow as suggested by Kimsey and Fisk (1964). The introduction into the Yadkin drainage, North Carolina, was possibly the result of an aquarium release (Moore et al. 1976). Hubbs (1954) reported this species as established in the lower Colorado River basin by 1953. He attributed the source of the introduction to escapes from the Arizona Fish Farms in Ehrenburg, Arizona. There apparently has been more than one subspecies introduced into the southwestern United States. Hubbs (1954) also noted that Red Shiners found in the lower Colorado River basin were intergrades between the subspecies N. l. lutrensis and N. l. suavis. In contrast, Minckley (1973) reported that the Arizona specimens he examined more closely resembled the typical subspecies, C. l. lutrensis. Gilbert (1998) also referred it to the typical subspecies (C. l. lutrensis).

Status: Established in areas outside their native range in Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Utah, and Wyoming. In contrast to Hubbs and Lagler's statement (1958), Becker (1983) found that there was no evidence to substantiate the presence of this species in lagoons of Lake Michigan at Chicago.

Impact of Introduction: The Red Shiner is very aggressive and where introduced may dilute the gene pools of native Cyprinella via hybridization (Mayden 1989; Burkhead and Huge 2002). The Red Shiner is hybridizing with the Blacktail Shiner C. venusta stigmatura in Alabama (Mettee et al. 1996; Burkhead and Huge 2002).

The Red Shiner has also affected the distribution and abundance of native fishes. For example, populations in the Moapa and Virgin rivers, Nevada, have been implicated in the decline of the native fish of this region, including Spikedace Meda fulgida, Woundfin Plagopterus argentissimus, and Virgin River Chub Gila seminuda (Moyle 1976; Deacon 1988; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 1990a, 1995). Members of this species may compete with and affect adversely young Colorado Pikeminnow Ptychocheilus lucius, an endangered species (Karp and Tyus 1990). The introduced Redside Shiner Richardsonius balteatus declined when the Red Shiner became common in the Green River near the boundary of Dinosaur National Monument, Utah, in 1971 (Holden and Stalnaker 1975). In degraded streams in Georgia, introduced Red Shiners have become one of the most abundant species (Devivo and Freeman 1995). The introduction of Red Shiners into Utah was probably the means by which the Asian tapeworm entered the Virgin River; subsequent tapeworm infestation of Woundfin Plagopterus argentissimus, an endangered species, may be primarily responsible for the Woundfin's decline during the 1980s (Deacon 1988). Dill and Cordone (1997) called the Red Shiner the second greatest threat to the welfare of indigenous southwestern fishes, after the Mosquitofish.

Remarks: The Red Shiner is a widespread and commonly used bait fish; it is also in the aquarium trade (Becker 1983; Etnier and Starnes 1993). It has been marketed in a pet shop under the name "rainbow dace" (Moore et al. 1976). Several attempts have been made to eradicate the Red Shiner from a portion of the Virgin River as part of the recovery plan for Woundfin and Virgin River chubs. It was successfully eliminated from the river between Washington Fields Diversion and Johnson Diversion, but have re-invaded below Johnson Diversion (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 1995). Tyus et al. (1982) gave a distribution map of the this species in the upper Colorado basin. Swift et al. (1993) and Dill and Cordone (1997) detailed the history of this species in California. Marsh-Matthews et al. (2011) examined recruitment and survivorship of Red Shiners 'introduced' to native communities in mesocosm experiments, and found that predation by piscivorous fishes (e.g., centrarchids) can limit the ability of Red Shiner to establish itself within a community. Although hybridization with Blacktail Shiner has been reported in areas where Red Shiner is introduced, Higgens et al. (2015) found little evidence for hybridization (using both genetic and morphological data) in two river systems where both species natively occur in sympatry. Glotzbecker et al. (2016) examined cytochrome-b variation across the native and introduced range of Red Shiner, identifying four distinct regional genetic lineages; introduced populations in the western United States were founded by introductions from the mid-west and western clades, whereas introductions in the eastern United States were solely derived from colonists from the mid-western clade.

References: (click for full references)

Becker, G.C. 1983. Fishes of Wisconsin. University of Madison Press, Madison, WI.

Bradley, W. G. and J. E. Deacon. 1967. The biotic communities of southern Nevada. Nevada State Museum Anthropological Papers No. 13, Part 4. 201-273.

Burkhead, N.M., and D.M. Huge. 2002. The case of the red shiner: what happens when a fish goes bad? Created on September 2002. Accessed on 06/04/2015.

Burkhead, N.M., S.J. Walsh, B.J. Freeman, and J.D. Williams. 1997. Status and restoration of the Etowah River, an imperiled southern Appalachian ecosystem, p 375-444, In: G.W. Benz and D.E. Collins (eds). Aquatic Fauna in Perile: The Southeastern Perspective.  Special Publication 1, Southeast Aquatic Research Institute, Lenz Design & Communications, Decatur, Ga.

Deacon, J.E. 1988. The endangered woundfin and water management in the Virgin River, Utah, Arizona, Nevada. Fisheries 13(1):18-29.

Devivo, J.C., and B.J. Freeman. 1995. Impact of introduced Cyprinella lutrensis on stream fish assemblages in Georgia. Association of Southern Biologists Bulletin 42:129.

Dill, W.A., and A.J. Cordone. 1997. History and status of introduced fishes in California, 1871-1996. California Department of Fish and Game Fish Bulletin, volume 178.

Etnier, D.A., and W.C. Starnes. 1993. The fishes of Tenneessee. University of Tennessee Press, Knoxville, TN.

Glotzbecker, G.J., F. Alda, R.E. Broughton, D.A. Neely, R.L. Mayden, and M.J. Blum. 2016. Geographic independence and phylogenetic diversity of red shiner introductions. Conservation Genetics 17(4):795-809.

Higgins, C.L., Love-Snyder, A., W. Wiegreffe, and R.S. Pfau. 2015. Lack of hybridization between naturally sympatric populations of Red and Blacktil Shiner (Cyprinella lutrensis and C. venusta) in Texas, but evidence of introgression among three lineages of the C. lutrensis species group. Copeia 103(2):272-280.

Hocutt, C.H., R.E. Jenkins, and J.R. Stauffer, Jr. 1986. Zoogeography of the fishes of the central Appalachians and central Atlantic Coastal Plain. Pages 161-212 in C.H. Hocutt and E.O. Wiley, eds. The zoogeography of North American freshwater fishes. John Wiley and Sons, New York, NY.

Holden, P.B., and C.B. Stalnaker. 1975. Distribution and abundance of mainstream fishes of the middle and upper Colorado River basins, 1967-1973. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 104:217-231.

Hubbs, C.L. 1954. Establishment of a forage fish, the red shiner (Notropis lutrensis), in the lower Colorado system. California Fish and Game 40(3): 287-294.

Hubbs, C.L., and K.F. Lagler. 1958. Fishes of the Great Lakes region. University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor, MI.

Karp, C.A., and H.M. Tyus. 1990. Behavioral interactionsn between young colorado squawfish and six fish species. Copeia 1990(1):25-34.

Marsh-Matthews, E., W.J. Matthews., and N.R. Franssen. 2011. Can a highly invasive species re-invade its native community? The paradox of the red shiner. Biological Invasions 13:2911-2924.

Mayden, R.L. 1989. Phylogenetic studies of North American minnows, with emphasis on the genus Cyprinella (Teleostei: Cypriniformes). University of Kansas Museum of Natural History, Miscellaneous Publication 80, Lawrence, KS.

Mettee, M.F., P.E. O'Neil, and J.M. Pierson. 1996. Fishes of Alabama and the Mobile Basin. Oxmoor House, Inc., Birmingham, AL.

Miller, R.R., and C.H. Lowe. 1967. Part 2. Fishes of Arizona. Pages 133-151 in Lowe, C.H, ed. The vertebrates of Arizona. University of Arizona Press. Tuscon, AZ.

Moore, R.H., R.A. Garrett, and P.J. Wingate. 1976. Occurrence of the red shiner, Notropis lutrensis, in North Carolina: a probable aquarium release. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society. 102(2): 220-221.

Moyle, P.B. 1976. Inland fishes of California. University of California Press, Berkeley, CA.

Page, L.M. and B.M. Burr. 1991. A field guide to freshwater fishes of North America north of Mexico. The Peterson Guide Series, vol. 42. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, MA.

Pflieger, W. 1997. The fishes of Missouri. Missouri Department of Environmental Conservation, Jefferson City, MO.

Robison, H.W., and T.M. Buchanan. 1998. Fishes of Arkansas. University of Arkansas Press, Fayetteville, AR.

Sommer, T, B. Harrell, M. Nobriga, R. Brown, P. Moyle, W. Kimmerer, and L. Schemel. 2001. California's Yolo Bypass: Evidence that flood control can be compatible with fisheries, wetlands, wildlife, and agriculture. Fisheries 26(8): 6-16.

Stewart, C.T., and M.M.F. Lutnesky. 2014. Retardation of reproduction in the Red Shiner due to electroshock. North American Journal of Fisheries Management 34(3):463-470.

Swift, C.C., T.R. Haglund, M. Ruiz, and R.N. Fisher. 1993. The status and distribution of the freshwater fishes of southern California. Bulletin of the Southern California Academy of Sciences 92:101-167.

Tilmant, J.T. 1999. Management of nonindigenous aquatic fish in the U.S. National Park System. National Park Service. 50 pp.

Tyus, H M., B.D. Burdick, R.A. Valdez, C.M. Haynes, T.A. Lytle, and C.R. Berry. 1982. Fishes of the upper Colorado River basin: distribution, abundance, and status. 12-70 in W.H. Miller, H.M. Tyus, and C.A. Carlson, eds. Fishes of the upper Colorado River system: present and future. Western Division, American Fisheries Society.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 1990. Spikedace recovery plan. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 1995. Greenback cutthroat trout recovery plan. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Denver, Colorado.

FishBase Summary

Author: Leo Nico, Pam Fuller, and Matt Neilson

Revision Date: 11/7/2016

Peer Review Date: 4/1/2016

Citation Information:
Leo Nico, Pam Fuller, and Matt Neilson, 2018, Cyprinella lutrensis (Baird and Girard, 1853): U.S. Geological Survey, Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL,, Revision Date: 11/7/2016, Peer Review Date: 4/1/2016, Access Date: 1/19/2018

This information is preliminary or provisional and is subject to revision. It is being provided to meet the need for timely best science. The information has not received final approval by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and is provided on the condition that neither the USGS nor the U.S. Government shall be held liable for any damages resulting from the authorized or unauthorized use of the information.

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Citation information: U.S. Geological Survey. [2018]. Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database. Gainesville, Florida. Accessed [1/19/2018].

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