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How to tell the gender of Rainbow Shiner?


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Assuming there are only two genders of rainbow shiners, male rainbow shiners tend to be slimmer when viewed from above and more brightly colored. The females tend to be broader to hold the eggs. (If you're a believer in there being many more than two genders, well I can't help you.)

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Not sure it was political or not. My rainbow shiners can have their own opinion of their gender but I am more interested in trying to figure out their biological sex. In any way, thanks for the answer. I found it was not easy by looking at the body size and by looking at colorations. I think my fish are not mature yet. 

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Love this. I’m beginning to breed Rainbow Shiners. You can follow my journal on the forum here. @WhitecloudDynasty is really experienced — so follow him for best advice, and check out his YouTube channel.

Your shiners are still young. They’ll gain color with maturity. Looking at your photos, I’ve circled three probable males:


Once mature, males will have powder blue pectoral / pelvic fins. This will also color the male’s head somewhat.

Here’s some of mine marked M / F:


Now, when they “fire up,” or “turn on” for spawning, what happens is at least one female will glow hot amber / pink. Then the males will all “fire up.” Here’s what that looks like:


Here is a video from just a couple weeks ago taken while they are in spawning mode:


Edited by Fish Folk
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The colors are AMAZING!!! I still don't know why this fish is not popular. Cold water fish so heater is not required (less energy consumption). Native fish and hopefully more and more habitats are protected (don't need to destroy habitats in some other places). And they are pretty hardy fish. Thanks for sharing and I will follow the link.


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On 9/21/2021 at 7:44 AM, Captain Salad said:

Do the rainbow shiners display colour all year round or just spawning seasons?

Mature Rainbow Shiners have some color year round. Females tend to be less colored than males. Males retain a powder blue petina on pelvic fins and head. They glow amber / pink only when spawning.

Under good lighting, this coloration is common year round:


During spawning, mature males will vibrantly color up:


There is _some_ debate about overall color morph variety between specimens collected in the northern reaches of their native range (e.g. Tennessee) versus southern Alabama. Some experienced collectors claim one or the other is more “blue” while the other is more “red.” Additionally, diet and lighting may affect their appearance. Their fins may variously appear powder blue / or turquoise-green.

Often when purchased, they are very young. It may take months of good care for them to mature and color up. Occasionally, keepers report bad batches that won’t color up at all.

In nature, with flowing water, live foods, and sunlight adding vitamins a school of Rainbow shiners looks like this…


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