SCIENTIFIC NAME: Cyprinella spiloptera
CHARACTERISTICS: The body of the spotfin shiner is elongate and somewhat compressed. The head is small with a conical, protruding snout and a moderately large, oblique, and terminal mouth. This species lacks a distinct caudal spot, and adults have a blotch on the last two or three rays of the dorsal fin. Breeding males usually have a steel-blue back and sides and a yellow snout. The paired fins and anal fin are yellow, and all fins are edged in white. Species of Cyprinella likely to be confused with C. spiloptera included the whitetail shiner, C. galactura, and the steelcolor shiner, C. whipplei. Cyprinella galactura has two white caudal spots and a less oblique mouth, in addition to a break in the lateral stripe just anterior to the caudal fin. Etnier and Starnes (1993) list several useful characters for separating C. whipplei from C. spiloptera. In spiloptera the lateral stripe on the caudal peduncle extends only slightly above the midline and has a distinct dorsal edge, while in whipplei the lateral stripe extends well above the midline and is less distinct on the upper margin. Also, the spiloptera breeding male has a normally shaped dorsal fin with melanophores only on the posterior membranes, while whipplei has an enlarged dorsal fin with melanophores throughout all membranes. See Gunther (1868) for description.
ADULT SIZE: 1.8 to 3.9 in (45 to 100 mm)
DISTRIBUTION: Cyprinella spiloptera is distributed throughout the upper Atlantic slope drainages, the Great Lakes basin, and the Mississippi River basin from northern Minnesota south to Arkansas and east to the Ohio and Tennessee rivers. This species occurs widely and commonly throughout the Tennessee River drainage.
HABITAT AND BIOLOGY: The spotfin shiner occurs in clear to somewhat turbid streams of moderate size; it prefers flowing pools, but it is also found in larger rivers and impoundments. Spawning occurs from late May to mid-August. Pflieger (1965) reports that eggs are laid in crevices and on the underside of logs, and he also indicates that C. spiloptera spawns earlier than C. whipplei. Male spotfin shiners have been observed producing sounds during courtship behavior, perhaps as a means of communicating with females of the same species or antagonizing intruding males of other species (Gale and Gale, 1977). Spotfin shiners consume stream drift composed of adult and immature aquatic insects, plant material, occasional small fish, and terrestrial insects.
ORIGINAL DESCRIPTION: Cope described the spotfin shiner in 1868.
Cyprinella is a diminutive of Cyprinus, the carp.
Spiloptera means spot fin or spot wing, referring to the spot at the end of the dorsal fin.
The copyrighted information above is from Fishes of Alabama and the Mobile Basin.