Spottail Shiner
  • Side view adult.
  • Side view adult.
  • Side view adult.
  • Top view adult.
  • Bottom view adult.
  • Head-on view adult.
  • Close-up flank.
  • Close-up head.
  • Close-up mouth and snout.
  • Close-up tail.
  • Close-up dorsal fin.
  • Close-up anal fin.
  • Close-up pectoral fin.
  • Close-up pelvic fin.
  • Close-up anal fin: There are 8 (rarely 7) anal fin rays.
  • Close-up tail: The caudal spot is often relatively smaller and less conspicuous in live fish from the Great Lakes.
  • Close-up flank: The sides are tan/olive to pale silver/cream without distinctive pigmentation.
  • Anterior top view: The dorsal scales are lightly pigmented, and the dorsal stripe is faint.
  • Close-up mouth: The mouth is terminal to slightly subterminal and oblique.
  • There is a distinctive caudal spot, typically about the size of the pupil in inland populations.
  • Side view of a breeder: Breeding adults are similar to non-breeders.
  • Side view of a young-of-year (top) and an adult (bottom): YOY are similar to adults.
DescriptionSimilar Species
Family
Minnows (Cyprinidae)
Body
Mouth and snout: Terminal to slightly subterminal and oblique, without any teeth. No barbels. Snout rounded. Body patterning, color, and scales: Solid color: light olive back; silver flank, and white belly. Dorsal scales lightly outlined in dark pigment; little or no pigment on flank scales or lateral pores. Dark spot, about the size of the pupil of the eye, at the base of the tail (often faint in live adults); otherwise little pigment on fins. 36-41 cycloid lateral line scales, rounded in shape. Body shape and size: Body fusiform, oval in cross section. Typically 50-100 mm (2-4 in) TL; maximum about 137 mm (5.5 in).
Fins
Tail, dorsal and other fins: Forked tail. Single dorsal fin with 8 rays and no spines. Pelvic fins abdominal. No adipose fin. Anal fin usually with 8 rays (rarely 7) and no spines.
Distinguishing Characteristics
The spottail shiner can be distinguished by its round lateral-line scales, lack of pigment on dorsal fin, less deep and less laterally compressed body, the presence of a spot at the base of the tail, its lack of barbels, its terminal to slightly subterminal mouth, and by its pre-dorsal scales, which are similar in size and spacing to the flank scales. See also similar species information.
Breeding Adults
Males have small tubercles on back and pectoral fins.
Juveniles
Similar to adults, although caudal spot is usually more obvious in juveniles.
Hybrids
None
Compare Similar Species
Mouth
Minnow, BrassySlightly subterminal, slightly oblique
Minnow, Mississippi SilverySlightly subterminal, slightly oblique
Minnow, PugnoseSuperior, strongly oblique to nearly vertical
Shiner, BigmouthSlightly subterminal, slightly oblique
Shiner, ChannelTerminal to slightly subterminal, oblique
Shiner, EmeraldTerminal, oblique
Shiner, GhostTerminal, slightly oblique
Shiner, MimicTerminal to slightly subterminal, oblique
Shiner, PallidSlightly subterminal, nearly horizontal
Shiner, RedfinTerminal, oblique
Shiner, RiverTerminal, slightly oblique
Shiner, Rosyface/CarmineTerminal, oblique
Shiner, SandTerminal, oblique
Shiner, SpottailTerminal to slightly subterminal, oblique
Body Pigmentation
Minnow, BrassySilvery, golden, or brassy cast, but without distinctive dark pigmentation of scale margins or lateral-line pores
Minnow, Mississippi SilverySilvery cast, but without distinctive dark pigmentation of scale margins or lateral-line pores
Minnow, PugnoseDark lateral stripe sometimes present. Lightly pigmented area above lateral line and dorsal scales moderately outlined in pigment
Shiner, BigmouthTan back, silver sides, cream belly. Dorsal scales strongly outlined with dark pigment. Dark pigment blotch above and below each lateral-line pore, giving "mouse tracks" appearance along side
Shiner, ChannelTan to silver body. Dorsal scales strongly outlined with dark pigment. Dark pigment blotch above and below each lateral-line pore giving "mouse tracks" appearance along side.
Shiner, EmeraldBack blue-green to iridescent in life, silvery on sides, cream on belly. Dorsal scales lightly outlined with pigment; little or no pigment on flank scales or lateral pores. Diffuse posterior lateral stripe in preserved fish.
Shiner, GhostSilvery and pale. Dorsal scales lightly outlined with pigment; pigment also on posterior top of head. No other dark pigment on body
Shiner, MimicTan to silver body. Dorsal scales strongly outlined with dark pigment. Dark pigment blotch above and below each lateral-line pore giving "mouse tracks" appearance along side.
Shiner, PallidDark lateral stripe sometimes present, extending on to snout. Dorsal scales lightly outlined with pigment; little or no other pigment on body
Shiner, RedfinDark gray or blackish on back grading to silvery and cream on sides and belly; diffuse broad dark lateral stripe in some preserved specimens. Dark diffuse spot at anterior base of dorsal fin.
Shiner, RiverTan to silvery on back and sides, cream on belly. Dorsal scales lightly outlined with pigment; little or no pigment on flank scales or lateral pores. Mid dorsal stripe continuous around dorsal fin; sometimes faint
Shiner, Rosyface/CarmineDark olive back, silver sides, cream belly. Head and body red in breeers. Dorsal scales lightly to moderately outlined with pigment; little or no pigment on flank scales or lateral pores.
Shiner, SandTan to silver body. Dorsal scales strongly outlined with dark pigment. Dark pigment blotch above and below each lateral-line pore giving "mouse tracks" appearance along side.
Shiner, SpottailTan/olive back, silver sides, cream belly. Dorsal scales lightly outlined with pigment; little or no pigment on flank scales or lateral pores. Dark spot at base of caudal fin.
Other Distinguishing Features
Minnow, BrassyBlack peritoneum, long gut with intestine 3.8-4.1 X TL; dorsal fin tip rounded; eye diameter greater than length from corner of mouth to snout tip
Minnow, Mississippi SilveryBlack peritoneum, long gut with intestine 5.4-5.8 X TL; dorsal fin tip pointed; eye diameter less than length from corner of mouth to snout tip. Usually 8, occasionally 9, anal fin rays
Minnow, Pugnose9 dorsal fin rays; 8 (rarely 7) anal fin rays
Shiner, BigmouthMouth length greater than eye diameter; usually 8 anal fin rays, occasionally 7 or 9
Shiner, Channel8 (rarely 7) anal fin rays; lateral-line scales 2-3 times as tall as wide
Shiner, Emerald10-12 (usually 11) anal fin rays
Shiner, GhostInfraorbital sensory canal on head largely absent
Shiner, Mimic8 (rarely 7) anal fin rays; lateral-line scales 3 times as tall as wide
Shiner, PallidUsually 8, occasionally 9, anal fin rays
Shiner, Redfin41-48 lateral-line scales; 10-12 (usually 11) anal fin rays
Shiner, River7 (rarely 8) anal fin rays
Shiner, Rosyface/Carmine9-11 (usually 10) anal fin rays
Shiner, Sand7 (rarely 8) anal fin rays
Shiner, Spottail8 (rarely 7) anal fin rays
Similarity Index
Minnow, BrassyVery similar
Minnow, Mississippi SilveryVery similar
Minnow, PugnoseVery similar
Shiner, BigmouthVery similar
Shiner, ChannelVery similar
Shiner, EmeraldVery similar
Shiner, GhostVery similar
Shiner, MimicVery similar
Shiner, PallidVery similar
Shiner, RedfinVery similar
Shiner, RiverVery similar
Shiner, Rosyface/CarmineVery similar
Shiner, SandVery similar
Shiner, SpottailN/A
Comments
Minnow, BrassySee 1st row.
Minnow, Mississippi SilverySee 1st row.
Minnow, PugnoseSee 1st row.
Shiner, BigmouthUnless otherwise noted, all species typically have 8 anal rays, 8 dorsal rays, 41 or fewer lateral line scales (less than 2 times as tall as wide), a silvery peritoneum with an intestine shorter than the total length, a mouth length less than eye diameter, and an infraorbital canl on the head that is complete (extends behind and under eye).
Shiner, ChannelSee 1st row. Also see note under Distinguishing Characteristics in Attribute Details!
Shiner, EmeraldSee 1st row.
Shiner, GhostSee 1st row.
Shiner, MimicSee 1st row. Also see note under Distinguishing Characteristics in Attribute Details!
Shiner, PallidSee 1st row.
Shiner, RedfinSee 1st row.
Shiner, RiverSee 1st row.
Shiner, Rosyface/CarmineSee 1st row.
Shiner, SandSee 1st row.
Shiner, SpottailSee 1st row.
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