Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide


Cyprinella lutrensis
(red shiner)



Cyprinella lutrensis (red shiner)


  • Last modified
  • 14 November 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Host Animal
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Cyprinella lutrensis
  • Preferred Common Name
  • red shiner
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Metazoa
  •     Phylum: Chordata
  •       Subphylum: Vertebrata
  •         Class: Actinopterygii
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • Cyprinella lutrensis, commonly known as the red shiner, is a small minnow native to northern Mexico and certain states of central USA. The red shiner is a habitat generalist, primarily occurring in creeks and s...

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Cyprinella lutrensis (red shiner); adult male, in full breeding colors.
CaptionCyprinella lutrensis (red shiner); adult male, in full breeding colors.
Copyright©Marine discovery/via wikipedia - CC BY-SA 3.0
Cyprinella lutrensis (red shiner); adult male, in full breeding colors.
AdultCyprinella lutrensis (red shiner); adult male, in full breeding colors.©Marine discovery/via wikipedia - CC BY-SA 3.0


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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Cyprinella lutrensis (Baird & Girard, 1853)

Preferred Common Name

  • red shiner

Other Scientific Names

  • Cyprinella beckwithi Girard, 1856
  • Cyprinella billingsiana Cope, 1871
  • Cyprinella forbesi Jordan, 1878
  • Cyprinella gunnisoni Girard, 1856
  • Cyprinella lutrensis blairi Hubbs, 1940
  • Cyprinella suavis Girard, 1856
  • Cyprinella umbrosa Girard, 1856
  • Hypsilepis iris Cope, 1875
  • Leuciscus bubalinus Baird & Girard, 1853
  • Leuciscus lutrensis Baird and Girard 1853
  • Moniana complanata Girard, 1856
  • Moniana couchi Girard, 1856
  • Moniana frigida Girard, 1856
  • Moniana gibbosa Girard, 1856
  • Moniana jugalis Cope, 1871
  • Moniana laetabilis Girard, 1856
  • Moniana leonina Girard, 1856
  • Moniana pulchella Girard, 1856
  • Nototropis forlonensis Meek, 1904
  • Notropis lutrensis Baird and Girard 1853
  • Notropis lutrensis blairi Hubbs, 1940

International Common Names

  • English: red horse minnow
  • Spanish: carpita roja

Local Common Names

  • China: lu lun jhen siao li; lu lun zhen xiao li
  • Czech Republic: notropis cervenomodrý; strevle cervenomodrá; strevlice pestrá
  • Denmark: amerikansk rødfinnebarbe
  • Finland: sinihohtaja
  • Germany: amerikanische Rotflossenorfe
  • Mexico: carpita roja

Summary of Invasiveness

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Cyprinella lutrensis, commonly known as the red shiner, is a small minnow native to northern Mexico and certain states of central USA. The red shiner is a habitat generalist, primarily occurring in creeks and small rivers (Poulos et al., 2012). It is well known to prey on eggs and larvae of native fish and is an opportunistic drift feeder (Sublette, 1975; Ruppert et al., 1993). It is a fish species of special concern in the United States as it has been implicated in the decline of native fish populations in the areas to which it has been introduced. C. lutrensis occupies nursery habitats of young native fishes, including the Red River pupfish (Cyprinodon rubrofluviatilis), Colorado pikeminnow (Ptychocheilus lucius), spikedace (Meda fulgida) and razorback sucker (Xyrauchen texanus), most of which are endangered. They are also adapted to thrive in a variety of environments and as generalists are better able to persist in disturbed habitats than the native species of those areas. They are tolerant of harsh environmental conditions, including low or intermittent flows, excessive turbidity and sedimentation, and natural physiochemical extremes (Poulos et al., 2012). Initial introduction is often followed by the species rapid population growth, dispersal, and aggressive colonization (Hubbs and Lagler, 1964; Minckley and Deacon, 1968; Minckley, 1973).

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Metazoa
  •         Phylum: Chordata
  •             Subphylum: Vertebrata
  •                 Class: Actinopterygii
  •                     Order: Cypriniformes
  •                         Family: Cyprinidae
  •                             Genus: Cyprinella
  •                                 Species: Cyprinella lutrensis

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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Hubbs (1954) reported that it is likely that more than one subspecies of red shiner have been introduced into the southwestern United States and noted that red shiners found in the lower Colorado River basin were intergrades between the subspecies Notropis lutrensis lutrensis and Notropis lutrensis suavis (USGS, 2012). In contrast, Minckley (1973) reported that the Arizona specimens more closely resembled the typical subspecies, Cyprinella lutrensis lutrensis. Gilbert (1998) also referred to it as the typical subspecies C. lutrensis lutrensis.


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C. lutrensis has a deep and compressed body and a sharp and compressed head (Mayden, 1989; Hubbs et al., 1991). There is a tendency for large males to develop a sharply pointed snout that overhangs the terminal to slightly sub-terminal mouth (Miller and Robison 2004). It has an olive-green back, silver coloured sides and a whitish abdomen (Hassan-Williams and Bonner, 2012; TWPD, 2007). The scales on the back and sides are edged with melanophores, which are arranged in a narrow wedge-shaped pattern on the posterior to the upper end of the opercle and in a medial stripe on the gula (Hassan-Williams and Bonner, 2012). The breeding male has red on the top of its head, a purple crescent behind the head and pinkish sides with some blue on the sides and back. It also has a dark dorsal fin and reddish-orange caudal, pelvic and pectoral fins (Sublette et al., 1990). The black median stripe on the lower jaw does not extend posteriorly through the isthmus and pigments are in inter-radial membranes of the dorsal fin (Hubbs et al., 1991). Peritoneum is silvery in colour with numerous large, dark chromatophores (Goldstein and Simon, 1999).

C. lutrensis grows to a maximum standard length of 7.5 cm and to a maximum total length of 9.0 cm (Matthews, 1980; Mayden, 1989; Page and Burr, 1991). However, the reported common total length is 4.9 cm (Hugg, 1996). The maximum reported age is 3 years (Carlander, 1969).

It has diamond-shaped scales, outlined in a crosshatch pattern and a slightly de-curved lateral line that extends one third of the way forward (Hassan-Williams and Bonner, 2012; ISSG, 2012). There are 34-36 lateral line scales, 8 dorsal soft fin rays, 8 pelvic soft fin rays, and generally 9 (8-10) anal soft fin rays (Miller and Robison, 2004). The beginning of the dorsal fin is close to the start of the pelvic fin (ISSG, 2012). The nuptial tubercles, in the male are dense and scattered on the snout, top of the head, chin, edges of body scales, and fin rays. Whilst on the female, the weak tubercles are present on the head and on the midline of the back. Nuptial tubercles of the caudal peduncle are largest on the anterior end of the scales. As spawning season progresses, tuberculation increases, progressing from a linear pattern to one that is scattered (Koehne, 1965; Collette, 1977; Sublette et al., 1990).

C. lutrensis typically has a pharyngeal teeth count of 0,4-4,0 but some individuals display 1,4-4,1, and has a short s-shaped intestine (Mayden 1989; Hubbs et al., 1991; Page and Burr, 1991; Goldstein and Simon, 1999).


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Native range of distribution of C. lutrensis is throughout the southern Great Plains, American southwest of the United States into Mexico, in tributaries of the middle and lower Mississippi River basin and Gulf of Mexico drainages westward to the Rio Grande, including several endorheic basins in Mexico (Hubbs et al., 1991; DFC, 2010). It has been reported that within the native range in the United States, C. lutrensis is found in Oklahoma, Nebraska, Missouri, Minnesota, Illinois, Arkansas, Iowa, Louisiana, South Dakota, and Kansas and throughout Texas (Matthews, 1987; Hubbs et al., 1991; Douglas et al., 1994; Ashbaugh et al., 1996; TPWD, 2012). The distribution of the red shiner throughout Texas has been attributed to a number of drainage units, including the Red River (from the mouth upstream to and including the Kiamichi River in Oklahoma), Sabine Lake (including minor coastal drainages west to Galveston Bay), Galveston Bay (including minor coastal drainages west to mouth of Brazos River), Brazos River, Colorado River, San Antonio Bay (including minor coastal drainages west of mouth of Colorado River to mouth of Nueces River) and Nueces River (Warren et al., 2000; USGS, 2012).

The known introduced range includes Arizona, Utah, New Mexico, Wyoming, North Carolina, Alabama, North Dakota and Colorado within the USA (Brandenburg and Gido, 1999; Douglas et al., 1994; Quist et al., 2004; NatureServe, 2006; USGS, 2012). In contrast to Hubbs and Lagler (1958), Becker (1983) found that there was no evidence to substantiate the presence of this species in lagoons of Lake Michigan in Chicago.

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Continent/Country/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasiveReferenceNotes

North America

MexicoPresentNativeContreras-Balderas and Escalante-C, 1984
USAPresentNative Invasive Page and Burr, 1991
-AlabamaWidespreadIntroducedNatureServe, 2006Established within Alabama Administrative area
-ArizonaWidespreadIntroduced Invasive Douglas et al., 1994Established in Gila river
-ArkansasWidespreadNative Not invasive Matthews, 1987Established within Arkansas Administrative Area
-CaliforniaWidespreadIntroducedHubbs, 1954; Moyle, 1976; Brandenburg and Gido, 1999
-ColoradoPresentNativeCross, 1985Native range is only in the south-eastern corner of the state. Introduced to the western side of the state and into Green river
-GeorgiaPresentIntroducedNatureServe, 2006Established within Georgia Administrative area
-IllinoisPresentNative Not invasive Matthews, 1987Native in some drainages but introduced to others. Established within Illinois Administrative area
-IndianaPresentNativePage and Burr, 1991
-IowaWidespreadNative Not invasive Matthews, 1987Established within Iowa Administrative area
-KansasWidespreadNative Not invasive Matthews, 1987Established within Kansas Administrative area
-LouisianaWidespreadNative Not invasive Matthews, 1987; Page and Burr, 1991Established within Louisiana Administrative area
-MinnesotaPresentNative Not invasive Matthews, 1987
-MississippiWidespreadNativePage and Burr, 1991
-MissouriWidespreadNative Not invasive Matthews, 1987Established within Missouri Administrative area
-NebraskaWidespreadNative Not invasive Matthews, 1987Established within Nebraska Administrative area
-New MexicoWidespreadNativeBrandenburg and Gido, 1999Native in some drainages but introduced in others. Reported to be present in the San Juan River
-North CarolinaWidespreadIntroducedNatureServe, 2006Established within North Carolina Administrative area
-North DakotaWidespreadNatureServe, 2006Unknown as to whether the species is native. It is established within the North Dakota Administrative area
-OklahomaWidespreadNative Not invasive Ashbaugh et al., 1996Reported to be present in Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge (SPNWR)
-South DakotaWidespreadNative Not invasive TPWD, 2012
-TennesseePresentNativePage and Burr, 1991
-TexasWidespreadNativeMatthews, 1987Reported within Brewster County and in Pecos and San Marcos Rivers, with no information on invasiveness. Within Texas Administrative area, it is reported as not invasive
-UtahWidespreadNativeBrandenburg and Gido, 1999Reported to be present in the San Juan River
-VirginiaPresentIntroduced Invasive US Environmental Protection Agency, 2000Widespread only in the southern part of the state. Reported in the Virgin River which originates in south-central Utah. There may be populations in the Roanoke drainage
-WisconsinPresentNativePage and Burr, 1991
-WyomingPresentNativeQuist et al., 2004Established within Wyoming Administrative area. Widespread only in the south-eastern part of the state

History of Introduction and Spread

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Use of C. lutrensis as a common bait fish facilitated its spread into new areas outside its native range and so its spread has been mainly attributed to bait bucket releases (Hubbs and Lagler 1964; Jennings and Saiki 1990; Walters et al., 2008). Koehn (1965) mentioned that the species has been introduced as a forage fish. According to Dill and Cordone (1997), C. lutrensis was introduced into northern California as forage, not as a bait minnow as Kimsey and Fisk (1964) had suggested (USGS, 2012). Use of this species as an aquarium fish may have contributed to its introduction into the Yadkin drainage, North Carolina, through aquarium release (Moore et al., 1976). The wide potential distribution of C. lutrensis across the United States demonstrates its adaptation as a site generalist, which facilitates its success in newly invaded habitats. The ability of this species for rapid multiplication, dispersal, and aggressive colonization after initial introduction facilitates its spread (Hubbs and Lagler, 1958; Minckley and Deacon, 1968; Minckley, 1973).

There are records C. lutrensis has declined or been extirpated in certain habitats. The extirpation from or decline of C. lutrensis in six of seven creeks that are direct tributaries of Lake Texoma, Oklahoma-Texas has been attributed to habitat modification and predation (Matthews and Marsh-Matthews, 2007).

Risk of Introduction

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C. lutrensis is being used as an aquarium and farmed fish and hence, there is a risk of the species spreading through aquarium releases and escapes (Hubbs, 1954; Moore et al., 1976; Jenkins and Burkhead, 1994). Escape from the Arizona Fish Farms in Ehrenburg, Arizona has been attributed to the establishment of this species in the lower Colorado River basin by 1953 (Hubbs, 1954). C. lutrensis is among some of the most thermally-tolerant minnows in North America and therefore, has the potential to spread to other hot environments in the United States (Brues, 1928; Matthews and Hill, 1979; Poulas et al., 2012). The predicted habitat is consistent with the wide-ranging habitat associations of this species in its current native and invaded ranges (Marsh-Matthews and Matthews 2000). Sites with mean minimum temperatures above freezing, high mean maximum summer air temperatures and a high summer heat index (August temperature/ summer precipitation) are potential sites for invasion by C. lutrensis (Poulas et al., 2012). In some areas dispersal of introduced populations has been aided by the presence of irrigation ditches and canals (e.g. Jennings and Saiki, 1990).


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This species of minnow can be found occurring in backwaters, creek mouths, medium-sized streams with sand and silt substrates, muddy river beds and unstable banks (Douglas et al., 1994; NatureServe, 2006). Its native range encompasses the lowland tributaries of the Mississippi River and western Gulf slope drainages to the Rio Grande River. In south-eastern United States it inhabits small, direct tributaries that lead to the Mississippi River in Mississippi and Tennessee (Burkhead and Huge, 2010). They are generally uncommon or absent from upland, clear water streams which have moderate or high species richness (Matthews and Hill, 1979; Matthews, 1985; Yu and Peters, 2002). However, they have been found in some clear-water upland streams of the Edwards Plateau, Texas, which have substantial flow (Matthews, 1987). In Wyoming, this species was found mostly at elevations of less than 250 m (Quist et al., 2004). During breeding season in central Texas larger males and females were found in faster flowing areas at the bases of raceways and riffles (Farringer et al., 1979).

C. lutrensis are habitat generalists and favour a wide range of environmental conditions that most other fish species cannot tolerate. These include habitats degraded by human disturbance, and those with poor water quality, natural physiochemical extremes, and seasonally intermittent flows (Burkhead and Huge, 2010). Therefore, in its non-native range, it is rare for C. lutrensis to establish itself in undisturbed areas (Baltz and Moyle, 1993). Introduced populations are often found in pools, slow-flowing riffles and are common in head and tail waters (Hubbs et al. 1953; Riggs and Bonn 1959).

Temperature, current speed, and water depth appear to have the greatest influence on habitat selection. Red shiners will also avoid highly acidic water (TPWD, 2012).

Habitat List

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Lakes Present, no further details Natural
Rivers / streams Principal habitat Natural

Biology and Ecology

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Haploid gametic and diploid zygotic chromosome number (n) is 25 and 50-50 respectively, in localities in Texas, USA (Arkhipchuk, 1999). Genetic markers have been recorded for an unspecified location (Gold and Price, 1985).

C. lutrensis will hybridize with C. venusta in areas of common geographic range; hybrids appear to be intermediate between parent species in shape and colour (Hubbs and Strawn, 1956; Riggs and Bonn, 1959; Smith, 1979).

 Reproductive Biology

Spawning season of C. lutrensis is from spring to fall and the peak is during the mid-summer months (ISSG, 2012). Farringer et al. (1979) reported that in Oklahoma and Texas the spawning occurs in mid-April to September. Spawning occurs most frequently on clean gravel riffles or on submerged objects, such as tree roots and logs. Eggs may then be deposited in a variety of environments; within crevices over a range of different substrates (gravel, sand, mud), near the surface over beds of submerged aquatic plants, in clear ponds or in association with green sunfish (Lepomis cyanellus) and orangespotted sunfish (L. humilis) nests (Minckley, 1959; Cross, 1967; Minckley, 1972; Pflieger, 1975; Wang, 1986; TPWD, 2012). Spawning may also occur in midwater as the male and female swim through the water column (Minckley, 1972). The eggs hatch after about 105 hours at a temperature of 24.5°C and the offspring will be sexually mature in 1-2 years (NatureServe, 2006).

C. lutrensis are non-guarders, brood hiders and speleophils (crevice spawners) (Simon, 1999; Hassan-Williams and Bonner, 2012). The male establishes his territory around a crevice and makes display passes along the spawning site. Occasionally males will swim toward females directing them towards the crevice. Males will approach and circle females, flicking their fins forward every few seconds. Courtship can last several hours, with females revisiting the spawning site over 200 times prior to egg release. During spawning the male swims above the female passing directly over the horizontal crevice. The female contorts violently expelling the eggs into the crevice. The first expulsion may be followed by another pass and expulsion. Females produce sounds to attract the males (Delco, 1960).

Females may release up to 16 batches of eggs per day, with up to 71 eggs per batch. An average clutch size may equal around 585 eggs and males and females may spawn 5-19 clutches over the reproductive season (Gale, 1986). Laser and Carlander (1971) reported that 485-684 eggs were laid per gravid female.

C. lutrensis matures at a standard length of 2.4-3.0 cm but some individuals may reach sexual maturity at age 0 (Hubbs and Ortenburger 1929; Cross 1950; Farringer et al., 1979; Marsh-Matthews et al., 2002).


The life span of C. lutrensis is up to three years (Carlander, 1969; Laser and Carlander, 1971; Farringer et al., 1979; Pflieger, 1975; Wang, 1986). Winemiller et al. (2004) reported that in the lower Brazos River, Texas, the population consisted of at least four age groups: age 0, 1, 2, and 3.

Population Size and Density

Carlander (1969) reported the following age groups and standard lengths of C. lutrensis populations in different geographical areas in the Unites States: In Kansas, age groups 0-3 years with a range of standard lengths from 2.5-3.0 cm, 3.0-4.0 cm, 4.0-5.0 cm, and 5.0-6.0 cm, respectively; in Oklahoma, age group 0 years was reported to range from 1.2-1.9 cm. In Iowa, Laser and Carlander (1971) reported total length for age group 0-2 years as 1.7-3.5 cm, 3.7-6.5 cm, and 6.9-7.5 cm, respectively. Growth in new impoundments is more rapid than in streams (Pflieger, 1975).


C. lutrensis is considered an invertivore as it feeds on small invertebrates, such as insects and crustaceans (NatureServe, 2006). According to Goldstein and Simon (1999) first and second trophic classifications for this species are invertivore or herbivore and benthic, respectively and the trophic mode is a grazer. Hale (1963) considered C. lutrensis as omnivorous but opportunistically seized any item available in the average size range.

Main food items include terrestrial and aquatic insects, and algae (Lewis and Gunning, 1959, Carlander, 1969; Laser and Carlander, 1971; Harwood, 1972; Goldstein and Simon, 1999). Wang (1986) found plant leaves in the stomachs of young C. lutrensis and Hale (1963) reported that their diet included sediments.


Sometimes spawning of C. lutrensis occurs in association with nests of green sunfish (Lepomis cyanellus) and orangespotted sunfish (L. humilis) (Minckley, 1959; TPWD, 2012).

Environmental Requirements

C. lutrensis are much more versatile than other native minnows and are able to occupy degraded habitats and tolerate extreme environmental conditions such as, intermittent flows, excessive turbidity and sedimentation, and natural physiochemical extremes (Cross, 1967; Sublette, 1975; Matthews and Hill, 1979; Baltz and Moyle, 1993; Douglas et al., 1994; Poulos et al., 2012). This species can tolerate extreme thermal shock, surviving temperatures as low as -21°C up to 39.5°C when living in hot springs (Brues, 1928). Matthews (1986) found that there was no significant differences in critical thermal maximum, (35.9-36.3°C at an acclimation temperature of 21°C), among populations of all major river systems occupied by this species across a 1100 km north-south span of its range. It has been reported that for fish acclimated at 30°C, the critical thermal maxima is of 35.4-39.6°C (Rutledge and Beitinger, 1989).

Natural Food Sources

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Food SourceFood Source DatasheetLife StageContribution to Total Food Intake (%)Details
Benthic agae/weeds Adult/Fry
Zoobenthos (aquatic insects) Adult/Fry

Water Tolerances

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ParameterMinimum ValueMaximum ValueTypical ValueStatusLife StageNotes
Conductivity (µmhos/cm) 10 20 Optimum
Dissolved oxygen (mg/l) Harmful 1.6 mg/l
Water pH (pH) 7.0 Optimum

Natural enemies

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Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
Pylodictis olivaris Predator Adult/Fry not specific

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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Natural dispersal (Non-Biotic)

Jennings and Saiki (1990) reported that in some areas dispersal of introduced populations of C. lutrensis has been aided by the presence of irrigation ditches and canals.

Accidental Introduction

The origin of most introduced C. lutrensis populations have been attributed to their use as bait and subsequent releases from bait buckets. The initial introduction is often followed by the rapid multiplication, dispersal, and aggressive colonization of this fish (Hubbs and Lagler, 1958; Minckley and Deacon, 1968; Minckley, 1973). Accidental escapes from the Arizona Fish Farms in Ehrenburg, Arizona, USA, in 1953 have been reported as the cause of the establishment of the species in lower Colorado (Hubbs, 1954).    

Intentional Introduction

C. lutrensis has been introduced as a forage fish into northern California, USA and not as a bait minnow as Kimsey and Fisk (1964) had suggested (Koehn, 1965).

Impact Summary

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Environment (generally) Negative

Economic Impact

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C. lutrensis is commonly used as a bait fish (TPWD, 2012). This fish is also sold for use in aquaria (USGS, 2012).

Environmental Impact

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Impact on Biodiversity

Red shiner are known to prey on the eggs and larvae of native fish, such as the Red River pupfish (Cyprinodon rubrofluviatilis) and have been implicated with the decline of a number of threatened species as listed by the IUCN. These species include the Colorado pikeminnow (Ptychocheilus lucius), spikedace (Meda fulgida), razorback sucker (Xyrauchen texanus), two threatened species of woundfin (Plagopterus argentissimus) and Virgin River chub (Gila seminude). Predation of eggs and larvae and direct competition for habitat use with red shiner are the leading causes of decline for many of these threatened species (Moyle, 1976; Deacon, 1988). Douglas et al. (1994) demonstrated that biotic interactions between spikedace and red shiner involved interference competition for space, and that spikedace were displaced to less favourable habitats in the presence of this invader. Mooney and Cleland (2001) have suggested that such niche displacement of natives by exotic fishes can have major evolutionary consequences on native populations. Invasive competitiveness may even lead to native fish extinction (Ricciardi and Rasmussen, 1998; Ricciardi et al., 1998; Poulas et al. 2012).

C. lutrensis are capable of hybridizing with native Cyprinella species (Mettee et al., 1996; Fuller et al., 1999). It is reported that such hybridizations has caused a dilution of the gene pool of the blacktail shiner (Cyprinella venusta stigmatura), a native species found in the Coosa River (Burkhead and Huge, 2002).

According to Poulas et al. (2012), the potential spread of this species both eastward and westward beyond its native and currently invaded ranges could threaten the stability of native US minnow populations with similar habitat requirements because of red shiner’s ability to outcompete and hybridize with natives (Burr and Page, 1986; Greger and Deacon, 1988; Larimore and Bayley, 1996). Overlaps in the potential distribution of red shiner and native minnow species richness occur predominantly in the western United States, with the areas of highest minnow diversity and red shiner habitat suitability occurring in Arizona, New Mexico, and southern California (NatureServe, 2004). This suggests that cyprinid congeners in these areas may be the most heavily impacted by red shiner spread (Poulas et al., 2012). Walters et al. (2008) demonstrated that red shiner success can be facilitated through infiltration of genes in locations where congeners are present. Red shiner establishes first in locations with congeners, and then its subsequent expansion is driven primarily by hybrid minnows into new habitats (Poulas et al., 2012). 

Threatened Species

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Threatened SpeciesConservation StatusWhere ThreatenedMechanismReferencesNotes
Gila seminuda (Virgin River chub)EN (IUCN red list: Endangered) EN (IUCN red list: Endangered); National list(s) National list(s); USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesArizona; Nevada; UtahCompetition; PredationNatureServe, 2006
Meda fulgidaNo DetailsArizona; New MexicoCompetition; PredationIUCN, 2012
Plagopterus argentissimus (woundfin)EN (IUCN red list: Endangered) EN (IUCN red list: Endangered); USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesArizona; Nevada; UtahCompetition; PredationNatureServe, 2006
Ptychocheilus lucius (Colorado pikeminnow)No DetailsMexico; Arizona; Colorado; WyomingCompetition; PredationIUCN, 2012
Xyrauchen texanus (razorback sucker)CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered) CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered); USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesArizona; California; Colorado; Nevada; New Mexico; UtahCompetition; PredationIUCN, 2012

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • Invasive in its native range
  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Has a broad native range
  • Abundant in its native range
  • Is a habitat generalist
  • Pioneering in disturbed areas
  • Long lived
Impact outcomes
  • Changed gene pool/ selective loss of genotypes
  • Increases vulnerability to invasions
  • Reduced native biodiversity
  • Threat to/ loss of endangered species
  • Threat to/ loss of native species
Impact mechanisms
  • Competition
  • Hybridization
  • Predation


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C. lutrensis is commonly used as a bait fish and also sold as an aquarium fish (TPWD, 2012; USGS, 2012).

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

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One subspecies of the red shiner, which is now considered extinct, was Cyprinella lutrensis blairi (Maravillas red shiner). This species was reported from Maravillas Canyon, Big Bend region of the Rio Grande (Miller et al., 1989).

It is often difficult to distinguish small Cyprinella lutrensis from Cyprinella venusta (blacktail shiner), especially when collected from turbid water. The number of scales on the lateral line can however, be used to identify each species. C.venusta generally has more lateral line scales (35 or more) and also has a distinct caudal spot (Ross, 2001). C. lutrensis is also similar to C. lepida (plateau shiner) but the breeding male of C. lepida has a green back, yellow-purple sides with yellow-orange fins and a purple bar on the side of its gold-orange head. C. proserpina (proserpine shiner) is also similar to C. lutrensis but C. proserpina has a black stripe along its side and on its chin, throat and sub terminal mouth and also has yellow to orange (on male) fins (Page and Burr, 1991).

Prevention and Control

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Due to the variable regulations around (de)registration of pesticides, your national list of registered pesticides or relevant authority should be consulted to determine which products are legally allowed for use in your country when considering chemical control. Pesticides should always be used in a lawful manner, consistent with the product's label.

Predicting the future spread of non-native aquatic species continues to be a high priority for natural resource managers striving to maintain biodiversity and ecosystem function (Poulas et al., 2012). Poulas et al. (2012) modelled the potential distribution of C. lutrensis, in waterways of the conterminous United States using maximum inventory records from the USGS Non-indigenous Aquatic Species Database, native records for from museum collections, and a geographic information system of 20 raster climatic and environmental variables to produce a map of potential habitat of C. lutrensis. They also concluded that summer climatic variables were the most important environmental predictors of C. lutrensis distribution, which was consistent with the high temperature tolerance of this species. Results from this study provided insights into the locations and environmental conditions in the US that are susceptible to C.lutrensis invasion. Potential distribution maps produced in this study can be used by resource managers for rapid response and early mitigation of non-native fish invasion.


Several attempts have been made to eradicate C. lutrensis from a portion of the Virgin River as part of the recovery plan for woundfin (Plagopterus argentissimus) and Virgin River chubs (Gila seminude). It was successfully eliminated from the river between Washington Fields Diversion and Johnson Diversion, but has re-invaded below Johnson Diversion (USGS, 2012).


Limiting new introductions by prohibiting C. lutrensis sales as an aquarium and bait fish have been recommended to lower the risk of introduction into new areas, which are highly susceptible to its spread and hybridization with native species (Keller and Lodge, 2007). Minimizing the availability of disturbed habitats could be another means of controlling the spread of this species, since this species does well in such locations (Poulas et al., 2012).


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Links to Websites

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Non Indigenous Aquatic Species (NAS)


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Italy: FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations), Viale delle Terme di Caracalla, 00100 Rome,

Switzerland: IUCN International Union for Conservation of Nature, Rue Mauverney 28, 1196 Gland,

USA: NatureServe, 4600 N. Fairfax Dr., 7th Floor, Arlington, VA 22203,

USA: TPWD Texas Parks and Wildlife, 4200 Smith School Road, Austin, Texas,

USA: USGS US Geological Survey, USGS National Center, 12201 Sunrise Valley Drive, Reston, VA 20192,


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17/09/2012 Original text by:

Sunil Niranjan Siriwardena, Stirling, Scotland, UK

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