15 Fin-tastic Facts About The Rainbow Shiner For Kids

Discover rainbow shiner facts about rainbow shiner characteristics, rainbow shiner requirements, rainbow shiner water temperature, and more.

Rainbow shiner is the common name of the fish known by its scientific name as Notropois chrosomus. 'Notropis' means 'keeled back' and 'chrosomus' means 'colored body', so this name describes the rainbow shiner well!

A rainbow shiner prefers the upper and middle levels of the water, but they can also be found swimming and feeding in the lower and middle levels. It gets along well with other tiny, peaceful fish and they are definitely not aggressive. They can be comfortably housed in a community aquarium due to their extra small size and their calm nature. Like most fish, they eat some shrimp, so should not be kept in an aquarium alongside shrimps.

Tiny, calm headwater streams with gravelly and sandy areas and pools are common habitats for this species. Rainbow shiners spawn from the month of April until July and they spawn sometimes over gravelly nests built by other fish species. Males stand out in spawning aggregations for their reddish-purple backs and pectoral fins of neon blue color. The rainbow shiner, like other Notropis, is most likely a drift feeder, feeding on aquatic insects and plant material. Surprisingly, despite its striking presence, this fish is very shy.

The rainbow shiner is a small cyprinid species native to the southeast of the United States.  This species was once native to parts of northern Alabama, but populations have recently spread further. They have been widely distributed all through North America, particularly, Coosa, Cahaba, Alabama, and the Black Warrior River systems in northwestern Georgia, Alabama, and southeastern Tennessee, in the USA.

Keep reading to learn all about the rainbow shiner, from rainbow shiner pond facts to facts about the ideal rainbow shiner aquarium or rainbow shiner tank size. Find out about other fish with our guides to the rainbow cichlid and ladyfish.

The Rainbow Shiner

Fact File

What do they prey on?

Flake food, pellets, live, frozen, or freeze-dried artemia, micro worms, Tubifex, Calanus, and cyclops

What do they eat?


Average litter size?


How much do they weigh?

Female: 0.012 lb (5.5g) Male: 0.008 lb (3.7 g)

How long are they?

1.9-3.14 in (5-8 cm)

How tall are they?


What do they look like?

Elongated bodies

Skin Type


What are their main threats?

Bigger fish

What is their conservation status?

Least Concern

Where you'll find them

Springs, streams, rivers, and creeks


North America, including Alabama, Tennessee, and Georgia





Scientific Name

Notropis chrosomus





Rainbow Shiner Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a rainbow shiner?

The rainbow shiner (Notropis chrosomus)  is a peaceful, colorful species of fish native to parts of the USA. There are several rainbow shiner varieties, they can survive in both open sea or aquariums.

What class of animal does a rainbow shiner belong to?

The rainbow shiner (Notropis chrosomus) is a species of fish in the Actinopterygii class.

How many rainbow shiners are there in the world?

Unfortunately, their exact population size is unknown. Although, the rainbow shiner fish trend is stable and is currently not a concern.

Where does a rainbow shiner live?

They can live in springs, small clean rivers, and streams where the water is calm.

What is a rainbow shiner's habitat?

The rainbow shiner (Notropis chrosomus) lives in freshwater habitats like small and calm water springs and streams. These flow over gravelly, sandy riffles and pools.

Who do rainbow shiners live with?

Rainbow shiners are best kept in schools of six to eight or more, although larger schools of 10+ are more ideal.

How long does a rainbow shiner live?

The rainbow shiner species' life span can range between three and five years.

How do they reproduce?

During their spawning or breeding season, the color of the male rainbow shiner changes into vibrant colors to lure females. They display their vibrant colors to captivate the attention of the female rainbow shiner by dancing, nudging, and swimming alongside them. At one year of age, they become sexually mature and like other fish species, the rainbow shiner lays eggs.

What is their conservation status?

Their conservation status is classified as Least Concern.

Rainbow Shiner Fun Facts

What do rainbow shiners look like?

These peaceful fish have elongated bodies and males are slimmer than female rainbow shiners. Their iridescence varies with different levels of reflected light, and their patterning is variable. In males, this sparkling extends somewhat to the posterior portions of the fish. The dorsal, anal, and pelvic fins typically have a faint mid-lateral red blotch on them. In some cases, there can also be a powder blue coloration within the fins. In some, this powder blue coloration extends into the caudal fins. The fins of the female are marked with red or orange blotches.

Rainbow shiners are peaceful freshwater fish.

How cute are they?

They are very cute, mostly because of their iridescent vibrant color during the breeding season.

How do they communicate?

Rainbow shiners communicate with their own species by nudging and swimming actively alongside them.

How big is a rainbow shiner?

The average rainbow shiner size is 3.1 in (8cm), which makes this fish bigger than a mature female Paedocypris!

How fast can a rainbow shiner swim?

Unfortunately, there are no records that tell us exactly how fast they swim but one thing is for sure, they are active swimmers.

How much does a rainbow shiner weigh?

The largest female collected weighs about 0.012 lb (5.5 g) and the largest male collected weighed 0.008 lb (3.7 g).

What are their male and female names of the species?

There are no different names for male and female rainbow shiners. However, they do look different; males have slimmer bodies compared to females and they differ in color during the breeding season. Males display vibrant magenta or reddish-purple hues with blue fins and the female's fins are marked with red or orange blotches.

What would you call a baby rainbow shiner?

A baby American rainbow shiner is called a fry.

What do they eat?

Their diet includes flake food, pellets, live bloodworms, and live brine shrimp. Other foods that they feast on include frozen daphnia and mosquito larvae. They can be fed liquid fry food, micro worms, and Artemia nauplii as part of their diet too.

Are they aggressive?

No, they are not aggressive at all.

Did you know...

Rainbow shiner (Notropis chrosomus) fish have increased energy needs during the breeding season for gamete development and sexual reproduction. Therefore, they change their diet to increase their food intake in late winter and early spring before spawning.

In the wild they spawn in the early summer months of May or June, that is when the water temperature is around 60.8-77 F (16-25 C) or when the water temperature starts to rise.

During spawning, male rainbow shiners become territorial and defend their nests.

One great rainbow shiner fact is that they are egg-scatterers. When spawning or breeding, it is best to split the parents into a separate tank since they have a tendency to consume their own eggs.

Their eggs hatch in around a week, depending on the temperature. Fry remain at the bottom after hatching to finish consuming their yolk sac, the fry does not eat anything else during this period. Later, fry will eat vinegar eels, micro worms, and rotifers until they are free to swim. They will then consume newly hatched brine shrimp as they grow larger. When kept in aquariums, they can gradually tolerate larger dry fish foods in granule and flake form.

When you see them in their native habitat range surrounded by plants they will be showing as much color as they can, but once you catch them, their color fades.

Why is it called rainbow shiner?

Thanks to its iridescent vibrant display of colors that happens during spawning or breeding.

Having your own rainbow shiner

Rainbow shiner care can be a little complicated. The recommended tank size is at least 20 gallons and good filtration is necessary. Keep the water temperature at 50-72 F (10-22 C) with a pH level of 6.0 -8.0.

In the wild, this fish feeds on live and small invertebrates, and when in the aquarium, it will eat frozen or pellet flake fish food.

They do not damage plants and need a steady stream of water and plenty of room to swim. Driftwood and water-worn rocks can be used to decorate the tank, along with plants. Sand or small gravel may be used as the substrate.

The Notropis chrosomus (rainbow shiner) is among North America's most colorful fish. The species displays vibrant colors coupled with a peaceful demeanor that can captivate any hobbyist's attention!

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these cichlid facts and convict cichlid facts for kids.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable rainbow shiner coloring pages.



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