Rainbow Shiner (Notropis chrosomus): Ultimate Care Guide


Common NameRainbow Shiner
Scientific NameNotropis Chrosomus
OriginSouth Eastern North America
Temperature50 – 72°F
Water pH6.5 to 8.0
Adult Sizeup to 3 inches
DietCarnivorous

Rainbow Shiner Facts

  • Male Rainbow Shiners change color when they are ready to spawn.
  • Rainbow Shiners are shoaling fish, and do best when kept in groupings of 10 or more.
  • Rainbow Shiners are found in the SouthEastern United States of Alabama, Georgia, and Tennessee. This species was originally discovered in river drainages in Alabama, but have since spread.
  • There is a slight color variation for Rainbow Shiners that have begun to be referred to as Rainbow Shiners Type 2. These fish have more yellowed fins opposed to reddish.
Rainbow Shiner
Rainbow Shiner (Notropis chrosomus)

Rainbow Shiner

Rainbow Shiners (Notropis Chrosomus) are a popular choice for aquarium hobbyists as they are considered a relatively easy fish to care for. Rainbow Shiners are a beautifully colored fish that change color when they are ready to spawn. Rainbow Shiners have translucent colored bodies with a silver black colored stripe that runs down the length of their bodies. The color of their bodies changes from a pinkish to a goldish color with their fins being red at the base.

It is the males that change color when they are about to spawn. Their fins turn blue, their heads turn purple, and their noses become red. This makes it easy for a breeder to identify when they are ready to spawn.

Rainbow Shiner Food & Diet

Rainbow Shiners are described as a micropredator, and a drift feeder. When it is in the wild, Rainbow Shiners are a more opportunistic feeder than a picky one. They spend their time feeding on insects, plant matter, and invertebrates that drift by them on the current. During the winter and spring months, Rainbow Shiners eat a lot more to prepare themselves for the spawning season.

In captivity, Rainbow Shiners will accept a wider variety of high quality frozen foods, flakes, and pellets. Microworms, and tubifex are a good choice to feed these small fish. Make sure that they are getting small enough pieces that they can fit them into their mouths.

Rainbow Shiner Size & Lifespan

Rainbow Shiners are a smaller fish that only reaches a maximum of 3 inches at full maturity, but they do not often reach their maximum length in captivity. When properly cared for, the Rainbow Shiner can live anywhere from 3 to 5 years. Maintaining a proper setup for these fish is key to getting them to live longer.

Rainbow Shiner Tank Requirements

Rainbow Shiners are schooling fish, and they need to be kept in a minimum grouping of 6 to 8 fish. Although, a larger school of 10 or more Rainbow Shiners is more ideal. The small school should be kept in a minimum of a 20 gallon tank, while increasing the gallon amount for additional fish.

Rainbow Shiners can be kept in a wider range of temperature starting at 50°F and going all the way to 72°F. They also require a pH of 6.5 to 8.0.

You will want to provide them with a tank that has well oxygenated water, with a medium to strong current. This mimics their natural habitat in the wild and will make them more comfortable.

Rainbow Shiner Tank Setup

Rainbow Shiners will mostly inhabit the top and middle water column of their tank, but they can be seen looking for food at the bottom too. In the wild, they typically inhabit the more shallow waters where they will scavenge the current for food. It is for this reason that Rainbow Shiners would do better in a tank that is longer and wider opposed to tall.

When setting up a tank for Rainbow Shiners it is important to give them an environment that is similar to their habitat in the wild. Heavily planted tanks with rocks and driftwood will give them many places to explore and hide. You will also want to make sure that your tank also provides them with well oxygenated water and a moderate to strong current.

You will want to ensure that your tank has a lid as well. When Rainbow Shiners are in their spawning season they get very active, and it is not uncommon for them to jump out of their tank during the excitement of this time.

Rainbow Shiner Tank Mates

Rainbow Shiners are shoaling fish, so the most compatible tank mates for them would be other Rainbow Shiners. They require a minimum school of 6 to 8, but do much better in schools larger than 10. It is good to keep a mixture of males and females together. The males like to display to potential mates and show off for rivals.

When choosing a compatible fish to house with your Rainbow Shiners, you will want to choose a fish that is similar in nature. Rainbow fish, Danios, and small Gouramis are all good tank mates for the Rainbow Shiner.

You will want to avoid housing your Rainbow Shiners with other fish that are territorial, more aggressive, larger, or resource guard.

Rainbow Shiners are a smaller fish, and you will want to pair them with other docile fish that are roughly the same size and temperament. It is important to observe any fish that you keep together to ensure that all of their needs are being met. By paying attention you will be able to fix problems as they arise so that they do not become more serious.

Rainbow Shiner Breeding

It is not difficult to get your Rainbow Shiners to spawn in captivity if appropriate conditions are met. Rainbow Shiners become mature enough to spawn in roughly 12 months. In the wild, Rainbow Shiners spawn during the late spring and early summer. You can help trigger the spawning by slightly elevating the temperature in their tank to mimic the changing of the season, and by increasing their food intake slightly.

If you are planning on breeding Rainbow Shiners, you will want to provide them a dedicated breeding tank. It is important to house the parent Rainbow Shiners from their fry to ensure their survival. Rainbow Shiners will not provide any parental care to their young, and will even go after them to eat them.

When the male Rainbow Shiner is ready to spawn, you will be able to see him change color. His fins will change from red at the base to blue, his normally blue head will change to purple, and even his nose will change to red. During this time, the males will build nests in the substrate, and become very territorial of them. It is important to monitor them during this time so that you can remove the parent fish when they are done spawning.

You will notice your Rainbow Shiner eggs will begin to hatch after about a week, and then become free swimming roughly one week later. Once they are free swimming, you can begin to feed them infusoria type foods until they are large enough to eat baby brine shrimp or crushed flake foods.

Rainbow Shiner Disease

Rainbow Shiners are susceptible to the same illnesses as most other freshwater fish. They can get ich, parasites, bacterial infections, and fungal infections. Even though Rainbow Shiners are a hardy fish that can thrive in a wider range of water parameters, it is still important to monitor their tank, and maintain a regular cleaning schedule.

If you are purchasing other fish or plants to add to your aquarium, you will want to make sure that you are not only purchasing them from a reputable seller, but also that you are quarantining and monitoring them before you introduce them to your aquarium.

Quarantining your new fish and decor away from your main home aquarium can help you catch many issues without spreading them.

Where Can I Find Rainbow Shiner For Sale?

Rainbow Shiners are a popular fish for aquarium hobbyists because of their hardy nature, and activity. If you are planning on purchasing Rainbow Shiners for your home aquarium, you will want to make sure that you purchase them from a reputable place to ensure the condition and health of your fish. You can find sellers of Rainbow Shiners online. Typically when you purchase Rainbow Shiners online, you will receive them at around 1 inch to 1.5 inches in length.

You can expect to pay around $13 per Rainbow Shiner. Keep in mind that you will need a school of at least 6 for these fish.

What Are Rainbow Shiner Type 2?

It is said that there is a different variation in coloration of Rainbow Shiners, and some breeders of the fish have referred to them as Rainbow Shiners Type 2. There is some speculation as to whether these fish are a hybrid of the species, selectively bred, or if the two simply exist in different parts of the South Eastern United States. The fish appear to be identical in structure and in social nature with their only difference being color variation in fins and heads.

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With decades of collective fishkeeping experience, we are happy to share the fish care tips that we've picked up along the way. Our goal at Fish Laboratory is to keep publishing accurate content to help fishkeepers keep their fish and aquarium healthy.

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