The Nonindigenous Occurrences section of the NAS species profiles has a new structure. The section is now dynamically updated from the NAS database to ensure that it contains the most current and accurate information. Occurrences are summarized in Table 1, alphabetically by state, with years of earliest and most recent observations, and the tally and names of drainages where the species was observed. The table contains hyperlinks to collections tables of specimens based on the states, years, and drainages selected. References to specimens that were not obtained through sighting reports and personal communications are found through the hyperlink in the Table 1 caption or through the individual specimens linked in the collections tables.

Cyprinella lutrensis
Cyprinella lutrensis
(Red Shiner)
Native Transplant

Copyright Info
Cyprinella lutrensis (Baird and Girard, 1853)

Common name: Red Shiner

Synonyms and Other Names: Red-horse Minnow, Notropis lutrensis (Baird and Girard, 1853), Leuciscus lutrensis Baird and Girard, 1853, Cyprinella lutrensis blairi (Hubbs, 1940).

Taxonomy: available through www.itis.govITIS logo

Identification: Cyprinella lutrensis are a deep-bodied minnow that is laterally compressed (Farringer et al. 1979, Page and Burr 2011). The mouth is terminal with a round snout (Page and Burr 1991). This species has silver sides with olive-green to blue coloration above the lateral line and a whitish abdomen (Mayden 1989, Page and Burr 2011). A dark stripe runs along the back with a dark, dusky colored dorsal fin (Page and Burr 2011). Breeding males have iridescent pink-purple-blue sides and a red crown and fins, except the dorsal fin which remains dark (Mayden 1989, Page and Burr 2011). There are 32-36 lateral scales, and the anal fin usually has nine rays (Page and Burr 2011). 

Size: Mature individuals range from 4.5 – 9 cm TL (Farringer et al. 1979)

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 2011).

Native range data for this species provided in part by NatureServe NS logo
Hydrologic Unit Codes (HUCs) Explained
Interactive maps: Point Distribution Maps

Nonindigenous Occurrences:

Table 1. States with nonindigenous occurrences, the earliest and latest observations in each state, and the tally and names of HUCs with observations†. Names and dates are hyperlinked to their relevant specimen records. The list of references for all nonindigenous occurrences of Cyprinella lutrensis are found here.

StateFirst ObservedLast ObservedTotal HUCs with observations†HUCs with observations†
AL199220087Apalachicola Basin; Conasauga; Middle Chattahoochee-Lake Harding; Middle Chattahoochee-Walter F; Middle Coosa; Middle Tombigbee-Chickasaw; Upper Coosa
AZ1953200922Agua Fria; Aguirre Valley; Bill Williams; Brawley Wash; Lake Mead; Lower Colorado; Lower Colorado Region; Lower Colorado-Marble Canyon; Lower Gila; Lower Lake Powell; Lower Little Colorado; Lower Salt; Lower San Pedro; Lower Santa Cruz; Lower Verde; Lower Virgin; Middle Gila; San Francisco; Santa Maria; Upper Gila-San Carlos Reservoir; Upper Salt; Upper Verde
AR200420041Little Missouri
CA1950201213Aliso-San Onofre; Butte Creek; Imperial Reservoir; Lower Sacramento; Lower San Joaquin River; Salton Sea; San Joaquin Delta; Santa Ana; Santa Clara; Upper Cache; Upper Tuolumne; Upper Yuba; Whitewater River
CO1969202314Colorado Headwaters; Colorado Headwaters-Plateau; Gunnison; Lower Dolores; Lower Gunnison; Lower San Juan; Lower Yampa; McElmo; Piedra; Upper Colorado; Upper Colorado-Dolores; Upper Green-Flaming Gorge Reservoir; Upper Gunnison; White - Yampa
GA1992201910Altamaha; Conasauga; Coosawattee; Etowah; Middle Chattahoochee-Lake Harding; Oostanaula; South Atlantic-Gulf Region; Upper Chattahoochee; Upper Coosa; Upper Ocmulgee
ID200920091Upper Snake-Rock
IL195820014Apple-Plum; Lake Michigan; Skillet; Upper Fox
IN200320031Ohio Region
IA200820081Upper Cedar
MA197219721Chicopee River
NV1967201913Havasu-Mohave Lakes; Imperial Reservoir; Lake Mead; Las Vegas Wash; Little Humboldt; Lower Virgin; Middle Humboldt; Muddy; North Fork Humboldt; Rock; South Fork Humboldt; Upper Humboldt; Upper Quinn
NM198020156Chaco; Middle San Juan; San Francisco; Upper Gila-Mangas; Upper San Juan; Upper San Juan
NC1974202111Haw; Lower Dan; Lower Pee Dee; Lower Yadkin; Roanoke; Rocky; South Yadkin; Upper Dan; Upper Pee Dee; Upper Pee Dee; Upper Yadkin
OR199819991Upper Quinn
TX199319931Middle Concho
UT1962202218Dirty Devil; Escalante; Lower Green; Lower Green-Desolation Canyon; Lower Green-Diamond; Lower Lake Powell; Lower San Juan; Lower San Juan-Four Corners; Lower White; McElmo; Middle Sevier; Price; San Rafael; Upper Bear; Upper Colorado-Kane Springs; Upper Green-Flaming Gorge Reservoir; Upper Lake Powell; Westwater Canyon
WI196220045Apple-Plum; Baraboo; Kickapoo; Lake Michigan; Pecatonica
WY198220094Upper Green; Upper Green-Flaming Gorge Reservoir; Upper Green-Slate; Upper Tongue

Table last updated 7/14/2024

† Populations may not be currently present.

Ecology: Cyprinella lutrensis are among the most widespread, ecologically general, and environmentally tolerant fish species in North America, and are highly invasive where they have been introduced outside their native range (Marsh-Matthews et al. 2011). The species thrives under harsh conditions (e.g., low flow, high turbidity, poor water quality) and aggressively colonizes severely degraded habitats. For example, introduced Red Shiners have become the most abundant species in degraded, urban streams in metropolitan Atlanta, Georgia (Devivo and Freeman 1995). Schultz et al. (2003) observed that the number of Red Shiners were reduced during flood events in southwestern streams (Schultz et al. 2003), although, laboratory tests indicated that Red Shiners had equal or greater swimming ability than many of the native species (e.g., Longfin Dace Agosia chrysogaster) tested (Ward et al. 2003).

In a laboratory setting, Red Shiner survived up to 10 ppt salinity,  pH 5–10, and dissolved oxygen concentrations down to 1.0 ppm at 24°C. They also tolerate extreme thermal shock, up to 43°C, down to 0°C (Matthews and Hill 1977; Matthews 1986) and sustained high temperatures in an experimental stream (37°C for 4 days) (Dekar et al. 2014).

Cyprinella lutrensis spawns over an extended period of time from spring into fall months, with a peak from early to mid-summer. Breeding season in Georgia is May through July, and in south central Oklahoma and central Texas it is from April to September (Farringer et al. 1979). Spawning may occur on riffles, on or near submerged objects, over vegetation beds, or in association with sunfish nests. Some individuals breed in two successive years, but very few breed in the same year they are hatched (Farringer et al. 1979). Females lay adhesive eggs in 5–19 clutches per reproductive season, ranging from approximately 400–700 eggs per batch and up to 16 batches per day (Gale 1986).

Adults typically school in midwater or near the surface. The species is thought to feed primarily on small invertebrates, plant matter and algae, and occasionally fish larvae (Laser and Carlander 1971). Red Shiners are forage fish and are consumed by various piscivores. In experimental units, Red Shiner survival was significantly negatively related to the abundance of Sunfish (Lepomis spp.) suggesting that predation can inhibit early stages of invasion by Red Shiners (Marsh-Matthews et al. 2011). Average life span of Red Shiner is 2–3 years in the wild (Herrington and DeVries 2008).

Means of Introduction: The origin of most introduced Cyprinella lutrensis populations can be attributed to bait bucket releases. Koehn (1965) mentioned that the species has been introduced as a forage fish. The Red Shiner 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). According to Dill and Cordone (1997), it was introduced into northern California as a forage fish, 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 C. l. lutrensis and C. 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).

Initial introduction of Cyprinella lutrensisis 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).

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:
Summary of species impacts derived from literature review. Click on an icon to find out more...


The Red Shiner has created a tenet among some ecologists: where it appears, native fishes disappear (Stolzenburg 1992). Dill and Cordone (1997) called the Red Shiner the second most significant threat to the welfare of indigenous southwestern fishes, after the Western mosquitofish (Gambusia affinis). Cyprinella lutrensisis are very aggressive where introduced and have been associated with impacts on the indigenous fish populations through predation, competition, hybridization, and introduction of parasites.


Ruppert et al. (1993) suggested that establishment of Red Shiner in Yampa River and Green River immediately below their confluence in Dinosaur National Monument, Colorado has led to predation on vulnerable larvae of native populations of razorback sucker (Xyrauchen texanus) and Colorado pikeminnow (Ptychocheilus lucius). This assumption was supported by a laboratory study that indicated that Red Shiner are a potential predator of razorback sucker larvae (Carpenter and Mueller 2008). In 2008, Schooley et al. (2008) found razorback sucker larvae in the guts of Red Shiners in Salt River and Sycamore Creek, Arizona.


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 1990). Members of this species may compete with and affect growth, condition, or survival of young Colorado Pikeminnow (Karp and Tyus 1990, Muth and Snyder 1995).


The Red Shiner may dilute the gene pools of native Cyprinella via hybridization (Mayden 1989, Burkhead and Huge 2002); studies have found that the Red Shiner is hybridizing with the Blacktail Shiner (Cyprinella venusta) in the Coosa River basin in Georgia and Alabama (Mettee et al. 1996, Burkhead and Huge 2002, Walters et al. 2007, Blum et al. 2010). The rate of hybridization between Red and Blacktail Shiners was higher due to increased premating social interactions in elevated turbidity (Glotzbecker et al. 2015).


The introduction of Red Shiner into Utah was probably how the Asian tapeworm entered the Virgin River; subsequent tapeworm infestation of Woundfin may be primarily responsible for the Woundfin's decline during the 1980s (Deacon 1988). The Red Shiner is one of the species that potentially introduced the Asian fish tapeworm (Bothriocephalus acheilognathi) to the Lower Colorado River (Choudhury et al. 2004). The introduction of Red Shiner to the Great Lakes may further the spread of Bothriocephalus acheilognathi within the basin (Marcogliese et al. 2016). Red Shiner are host to Pseudocapillaria tomentosa, a parasitic nematode that can cause inflammation and intestinal lesions in fish (Leis et al. 2016).

Introduced Red Shiner populations have contributed to the reduction of many fish populations and are known to dominate fish assemblages. For example, 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). In a 1985-88 study of the Colorado and Green Rivers adjacent to Canyonlands National Park, introduced Red Shiners made up nearly 50% of the catch per unit effort (Valdez and Williams 1993).

Remarks: 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 has re-invaded below Johnson Diversion (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 1995).

Tyus et al. (1982) provide a distribution map of 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 are 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.

Blum, M.J., D.M. Walters, N.M. Burkhead, B.J. Freeman, and B.A. Porter. 2010. Reproductive isolation and the expansion of an invasive hybrid swarm. Biological Invasions 12(8):2825-2836.

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? Access available at : http://fl.biology.usgs.gov/Southeastern_Aquatic_Fauna/Freshwater_Fishes/Shiner_Research/shiner_research.html. 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.

Dekar, M.P., C. McCauley, J.W. Ray, and R.S. King. 2014. Thermal tolerance, survival, and recruitment of Cyprinids exposed to competition and chronic heat stress in experimental streams. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 143(4):1028-1036.

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 Tennessee. University of Tennessee Press, Knoxville, TN.

Gale, W.F. 1986. Indeterminate fecundity and spawning behavior of captive Red Shiners–fractional, crevice spawners. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 115(3):429-437.

Gilbert, C.R. 1998. Type catalogue of recent and fossil North American freshwater fishes: families Cyprinidae, Catostomidae, Ictaluridae, Centrarchidae, and Elassomatidae. Florida Museum of Natural History Special Publication 1:1-284.

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. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10592-016-0822-9

Glotzbecker, G.J., J.L. Ward, D.M. Walters, and M.J. Blum. 2015. Turbidity alters pre-mating social interactions between native and invasive stream fishes. Freshwater Biology 60(9):1784-1793.

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.

Leis, E., R. Easy, and D. Cone. 2016. Report of the potential fish pathogen Pseudocapillaria (Pseudocapillaria) tomentosa (Dujardin, 1843) (Nematoda) from Red Shiner (Cyprinella lutrensis) shipped from Missouri to Wisconsin. Comparative Parasitology 83(2):275-278.

Marcogliese D.J, A.D. Gendron, J.J.H. Forest, W. Li, K. Boyce, F. El-Shehabi, D.A.R. Drake, N.E. Mandrak, J. Sherry, and J. D. McLaughlin. 2016. Range expansion and molecular confirmation of the Asian fish tapeworm in the lower Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River with notes on infections in baitfish. Journal of Great Lakes Research 42(4):819-828.

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). Volume 80. University of Kansas Museum of Natural History, 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.

Schooley, J. D., A.P. Karam, B.R. Kesner, P.C. Marsh, C.A. Pacey, and D.J. Thornbrugh. 2008. Detection of larval remains after consumption by fishes. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 137(4): 1044-1049.

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. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/02755947.2014.882454

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.

Walters, D.M., M.J. Blum, B. Rashleigh, B.J. Freeman, B.A. Porter, and N.M. Burkhead. 2007. Red shiner invasion and hybridization with blacktail shiner in the upper Coosa River, USA. Biological Invasions 10:1229-1242.

FishBase Summary

Author: Nico, L., Fuller, P., Neilson, M., and Daniel, W.

Revision Date: 3/16/2021

Peer Review Date: 3/16/2021

Citation Information:
Nico, L., Fuller, P., Neilson, M., and Daniel, W., 2024, Cyprinella lutrensis (Baird and Girard, 1853): U.S. Geological Survey, Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL, https://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/FactSheet.aspx?speciesID=518, Revision Date: 3/16/2021, Peer Review Date: 3/16/2021, Access Date: 7/14/2024

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.


The data represented on this site vary in accuracy, scale, completeness, extent of coverage and origin. It is the user's responsibility to use these data consistent with their intended purpose and within stated limitations. We highly recommend reviewing metadata files prior to interpreting these data.

Citation information: U.S. Geological Survey. [2024]. Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database. Gainesville, Florida. Accessed [7/14/2024].

Contact us if you are using data from this site for a publication to make sure the data are being used appropriately and for potential co-authorship if warranted.

For general information and questions about the database, contact Wesley Daniel. For problems and technical issues, contact Matthew Neilson.