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Blacktail Shiner – Freshwater Slender Minnow

Blacktail Shiner

The Blacktail Shiner (Cyprinella venusta) is a small freshwater fish in the Cyprinidae family of the Cyprinella genus. Native to the United States especially Florida, Texas and Illinois. However, a subspecies occurs in Alabama.

Description of the Blacktail Shiner

Blacktail Shiner

A slender minnow with a yellowish olive back and silver sides with hints of blue. Generally, the fish reaches 4 inches in length. While, the caudal fin features a black spot at the base, which is a key in distinguishing it from all other minnows.

However, the spot may be faint in some populations, especially those inhabiting turbid waters and thus, causing confusion with the Blacktail and Red Shiner. Meanwhile, to distinguish the Blacktail Shiner from the Red Shiner, look at the anal ray.

While, having eight anal rays instead of nine, like the Red Shiner. Further, the Red Shiner has 35 or less lateral scales, and the Blacktail Shiner has 36 or more lateral scales.

Biology of the Blacktail Shiner

Inhabit pools and runs of clear water with sandy substrates. As well as, medium rivers with sparse vegetation and strong currents. However, some populations may occur in creeks with gravel or rubble substrates.

While, occurring in a wide range of habitats, Spring and Summer see them abundant in swift runs and deep channels, with riffle habitats being preferred in fall in winter. Some areas where the Blacktail Shiners occur include Lake Texoma.


Native to the United States where they occur in the Gulf of Mexico drainage systems, from Suwannee River, Georgia and Florida to the Rio Grande in Texas. As well as, the Mississippi River Basin from southern Illinois to Louisiana and the Red River in Oklahoma.

Generally, the Blacktail Shiner occurs west of the Appalachian Mountains, in Florida, Texas, and Illinois. However, they are unknown in the Panhandle. While, their primary location is Edwards Plateau.

Conservation and Management

Very little concern is expressed with regards to the Blacktail Shiner as their populations are stable. However, some issues are concern may include habitat changes associated with flood control projects, siltation from development sites and deterioration of water quality.

As well as, recent water drawdowns from mining and irrigation, construction and operation of hydroelectric facilities, flood control, bank stabilization, oil and gas drilling and introductions of non-native fish species. Further, hybridization may become a concern.

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