SCIENTIFIC NAME: Lythrurus fumeus
CHARACTERISTICS: The ribbon shiner is a pale, deep bodied fish with a terminal and oblique mouth. It is distinguished from most species in Lythrurus by having little or no dark pigment in the dorsal and anal fins. It differs from the mountain shiner, L. lirus, by having a deeper body, a modal number of anal rays equal to 11, and pigment flecks on the chin. The back is pale olive yellow, and the sides are silvery, with a faint lateral stripe. Snelson (1973) reports yellow breeding pigments restricted to the fin rays. In other Lythrurus species, red or orange pigments are most intensely developed on the membranes, not the rays.
ADULT SIZE: 1.4 to 2.2 in (35 to 55 mm)
DISTRIBUTION: This species is widespread in lowland streams throughout the Mississippi basin, from Illinois to Louisiana. In Alabama it is documented only in the Bear, Cane, and Spring creek systems of the Tennessee River drainage in the northwest part of the state.
HABITAT AND BIOLOGY: Lythrurus fumeus inhabits lowland streams with reduced flow over sand, silt, or clay bottoms. Its reported tolerance of turbidity explains its abundance in disturbed streams in agricultural regions. Smith (1979) reports the ribbon shiner in low-gradient creeks flowing over clay, sand, or mud and identifies its preferred habitat as clear, vegetated pools with little current over sand. Gravid individuals found during May in Spring Creek were associated with beds of river weed near pool margins. Little else is known of the biology of the ribbon shiner, although Etnier and Starnes (1993) infer that spawning occurs from May through August in Tennessee populations. Diet likely consists of stream drift composed of terrestrial insects, aquatic insects, and plant material.
ORIGINAL DESCRIPTION: Evermann described the ribbon shiner in 1892.
Lythrurus means blood tail, perhaps referring to the bright red breeding colors.
Fumeus means smoky.
The copyrighted information above is from Fishes of Alabama and the Mobile Basin.