The beautiful shiner (Cyprinella formosa) is one of eight species of fish known as the Rio Yaqui Fishes, some of which include: Yaqui chub (Gila purpurea), Yaqui topminnow (Poeciliopsis occidentalis sonoriensis), Yaqui catfish (Ictalurus pricei), Yaqui sucker (Catostomus bernardini), Longfin Dace (Agostia chrysogaster sp.), Mexican stoneroller (Campostoma ornatum) and the roundtail chub (Gila robusta). In 1856, C. Girard described the beautiful shiner from the San Bernardino Creek, Rio Yaqui, just south of the Arizona-Sonora border and C. Rutter confirmed that in 1896. The beautiful shiner inhabits small streams and ponds in the Rio Yaqui drainage of Arizona and Mexico.The beautiful shiner consists of two forms: the Yaqui form, which inhabits the Yaqui Basin, and the Guzman form, which inhabits the Guzman Basin.
Girard, C. 1856. Researches upon cyprinoid fishes inhabiting the fresh waters of the Unites States of America, west of the Mississippi Valley, from specimens in the museum of the Smithsonian Institution. Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia. 8:165 – 213.
Rutter, C. 1896. Notes on the fresh water fishes of the Pacific Slope of North America. Proceedings California of Sciences. 6:245 – 267.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). 1994. Yaqui Fishes Recovery Plan. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Albuquerque, New Mexico.
The beautiful shiner is considered a midwater fish that often occupies areas near aquatic vegetation, but rarely found in vegetation. Adult beautiful shiner will school in these more open waters.
Non-breeding coloration of beautiful shiner is a tan-like coloration dorsally, meaning on the back, with metallic silver laterally, meaning on the sides, and pale white ventrally, meaning underneath. Breeding males exhibit bright yellow to orange coloration on caudal, or tail, and lower fins, with a blueish body, as documented by W. Minckley in 1973.
Minckley, W. 1973. Fishes of Arizona. Arizona Game and Fish Department, Phoenix, Arizona.
Beautiful shiner are small minnows, with pointed snouts, and compressed bodies that do not extend far above the head. The lateral line, which is a sensory system used to detect movement, vibration and pressure gradients, is curved downward with 36 to 40 scales.
MeasurementsLength: 2.5 in (6.3 cm)
The average life span of small minnows, like the beautiful shiner, is 2 to 3 years in the wild, as documented by S.J. Herrington and D.R. DeVries in 2008.
Herrington, S.J., and D.R. DeVries. 2008. Reproductive and early life history of nonindigenous red shiner in the Chattahoochee River Drainage, Georgia. Southeastern Naturalist 7(3):413-428.
The red shiner (Cyprinella lutrensis) is a non-native similarly sized species that is considered invasive in Arizona. Both species have striking breeding colors and occupy similar niches.
Like other Cyprinella species, beautiful shiners feed on invertebrates that are the appropriate size range.
The beautiful shiner occurs in small to medium streams with sand, gravel and rock bottoms below 4,500 feet (1,371 meters) in elevation. Although found in a variety of habitats, the largest populations occur in the riffles of small streams.
Areas where ground water meets the surface.
A natural body of running water.
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