Common shiners (Luxilus cornutus; also Notropus cornutus) are a small, very colorful bait fish. They are greenish-blue on the back and bluish-silver on the sides. During spawning, males have rose colored caudal and anal fins. There are also many bullet-shaped "warts", or tubercles, on the head and upper jaw. Females have less color and no tubercles.
There are 21 species of shiners in Ohio, all of which prefer large, slow moving cool streams with gravel or sandy bottomed waters that are shaded by brush or trees. Spawning occurs May to June. Males will protect the nest that they have constructed by piling up small pebbles and gravel at the heads of riffles. However, they will leave the area after the females lay the 3,000 to 4,000 eggs, leaving no protection for the young.
Adults can reach a body length of five to eight inches, but three to five inches is more common. Their typical diet consists of a variety of aquatic plant and animals.
Shiners were abundant before the beginning of the 19th century. After that, the increase in agriculture caused many cool water springs to disappear. Farmers also removed much of the brush along banks, allowing the water to warm. After 1900, the conditions were not favorable for shiners in many areas.
Today, common shiners can be found only in the northern part of Ohio. They are a common food for predatory fish. They are used as bait particularly in catfish and bass fishing.