Captive Care Notes: Golden Shiner (Notemigonus, Family Cyprinidae)
Golden Shiner (Notemigonus crysoleucas) are one of the few North American native fishes a hobbyist can go out and purchase. Don't look for them in pet shops, though. Try your local bait shop. Just make sure you inspect the fish for fungus and injury before you bring them home since many bait shops don't treat fish that are destined to die anyway with much TLC. If you prefer wild-caught specimens, seining or dip-netting for juveniles in the weedy margins of shallow streams and ponds is the easiest way to acquire some. Take care when handling golden shiner since they're easily stressed and lose their scales, which can lead to infection and death.
Golden Shiner are not fussy about aquarium conditions and will accept all prepared foods. Because of the potential large size and activity, larger, open aquaria are preferred. And since they feed at or near the surface, a tight-fitting cover is a must. A school of Golden Shiner in a large, brightly lit tank can be a pretty sight. They also make good dither fish for tanks containing sunfish. Unfortunately, as the fish grow -- and grow they will -- they take on an increasingly smudged or "dirty" look and lose their initial luster. Never release unwanted Golden Shiner into local waters. It is better to euthanize unwanted specimens than to risk the release of aquarium-borne pathogens or the establishment of a hardy exotic.