Project Description

Fieryblack Shiner

Cyprinessa  pyrrhomelas

Aquarium Location



Inhabits rocky, fast-moving waters and pools in creeks to medium-sized rivers.


Fieryblack shiners can be found in North and South Carolina.


Food for this species includes aquatic insects and possibly small fish.

Fun Facts

Before to 1990, the fieryblack shiner was unknown in the Savannah River watershed. However, survey results indicate that fieryblack shiners occur in the Chattooga River system. Biologists believe this species was introduced to the river through bait bucket releases, a common way of accidentally introducing a species to a new body of water.

Cool Adaptation

Male fieryblack shiners have adapted very specialized breeding displays in an attempt to lure in willing females. During the breeding season, males change color. Their snouts turn bright red and their back turns bright blue. They also develop a bright white band on their caudal fin and all their other fins turn totally white. This color change behavior is said to make males more attractive to potential mates with the brightest colors being the most attractive. They have also been known to use their large (relatively), rounded fins in breeding display and may even make sounds during the courtship process.

Conservation Connection

Agricultural, residential and commercial development along rivers has led to siltation of spawning grounds for many species. Stream alteration and channeling have also caused a decline in available habitat for many stream and river dwelling species. In addition, the introduction of non-native predatory fish (sportfish species) decreases native population. For shiners, increased stocks of small mouth bass and trout may cause increased predation. Lastly, dams alter the swift streams that shiners need for survival. Despite the reduction and decline of stream and river systems within their range, fieryblack shiners are still considered common in mountain streams, creeks and rivers. There is currently no special concern/status for the conservation of this species.