SCIENTIFIC NAME: Lythrurus bellus
Characteristics: A deep-bodied, compressed species, Lythrurus bellus is distinguished from the cherryfin shiner, L. roseipinnis, by its more intensely pigmented fin patterns. On each outside margin of the dorsal, anal, and pelvic fins is an orange band of uniform size that covers about one-third of the fin’s depth. This contrasts with the wedge-shaped patterns in the blacktip shiner, L. atrapiculus, and the sparsely pigmented patterns in L. roseipinnis. Breeding males have a red flush in the dorsal fin, with a red-orange caudal fin of less intensity.
ADULT SIZE: 1.6 to 2.6 in (40 to 65 mm)
DISTRIBUTION: The pretty shiner is confined to the Mobile basin and to the Bear Creek system in the Tennessee River drainage. Though absent from the upper Coosa River system, it occurs commonly in the lower Coosa system and in the Cahaba and Tallapoosa river systems, which flank the Coosa watershed. Two subspecies have been recognized: Lythrurus b. alegnotus, which occurs in the upper Black Warrior River system, and L. b. bellus, which occurs at all other locations (Snelson, 1972). A zone of intergradation between the two subspecies occurs in the North River drainage of the Black Warrior River system. Black Warrior populations of L. bellus need further investigation.
HABITAT AND BIOLOGY: A wide-ranging species, the pretty shiner is usually common throughout its range. It frequents many habitats, from small headwater streams to large rivers, but it appears to prefer flowing, medium-sized streams over sand, silt, and gravel substrates. Spawning occurs from April to June in shallow, flowing pools or in riffle runs with moderate current. Snelson (1972) reported large numbers of nuptial individuals, apparently a spawning aggregation, over longear sunfish nests in Calebee Creek, Macon County. Aggregating individuals in extreme breeding condition were collected during April in a riffle run behind and old bridge piling in Beaver Creek, Marengo County. The diet of this species consists of stream drift composed of adult and immature insects and plant material. The pretty shiner seems to tolerate a variety of degraded stream conditions, including siltation and enrichment.
ORIGINAL DESCRIPTION: Hay described the pretty shiner in 1881.
Lythrurus means blood tail, perhaps referring to the bright red breeding colors.
Bellus means beautiful.
The copyrighted information above is from Fishes of Alabama and the Mobile Basin.
Note: In Alabama, it is illegal to stock or move any fish, mussel, snail or crayfish to any public water without a permit.