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Red Shiner

Cyprinella lutrensis
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What is Ontario Doing?

To prevent this unwanted invader from coming into the province, Ontario has regulated the Red Shiner as prohibited under the Invasive Species Act, 2015.


The Red Shiner is a deep-bodied minnow that is laterally compressed. They are native to the central and western Mississippi River basin. They are popular in the aquarium trade and are widely used as baitfish where they likely were introduced through bait dumping. They have been introduced outside their native distribution in 15 states, including Alabama, Virginia, California, and Arizona. This species thrives in poor water conditions and can quickly outcompete native species.


The Red Shiner has been recorded in several states outside its native distribution, encompassing most of the continental US. It thrives in poor water conditions and degraded habitats and has become the most abundant species in urban streams in metropolitan Atlanta, Georgia. To date, there are no records of the Red Shiner in Canada.

Impacts of Red Shiner

  • Red Shiner threatens native fish populations by quickly reproducing and outcompeting native species for food and habitat. 
  • Red Shiners are aggressive where introduced and can predate on native fish eggs, larvae, and invertebrates. 
  • Red Shiner can facilitate toxic algae blooms by removing beneficial algae and plankton from the water.  
  • Red Shiner has the potential to spread new diseases and pathogens, like Asian fish tapeworm.  

How to Identify

  • It has a deep body with a terminal mouth on a rounded snout. 
  • Its lateral line is curved downward. 
  • Breeding males have small tubercles (bumps) on the head, red pectoral, anal, and caudal (tail) fins. 
  • Mature individuals range from 4.5 cm (1.77 in) – 9 cm (3.54 in). 

What You Can Do

  • Learn how to identify the Red Shiner and prevent the spread of this unwanted species. 
  • Do not release any live fish into Ontario’s lakes, rivers, or streams. Return or donate unwanted aquarium fish to a pet store or local school.  
  • Never buy or keep live Red Shiner or use them as bait.
  • If you find Red Shiner or another invasive species in the wild, please contact the toll-free Invading Species Hotline at 1-800-563-7711, visit, or search for the ‘Invasive Species in Ontario’ project on to report a sighting.


OFAH/OMNRF Invading Species Awareness Program. (2023). Red Shiner. Retrieved from:
This factsheet may be reproduced for non-commercial purposes.

Header photo by evangrimes | iNaturalist 

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