Bridle Shiner
(Photo: Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Connecticut)

The Bridle Shiner is a small minnow that only reaches about 6.5 cm in length. It is one of 5 species of Shiner in Canada that has a black lateral band that runs along the side of its body, from snout to tail. This species has a small mouth that extends back to the lower edge of its eye. There is typically a bold black spot on the base of its caudal fin (tail fin) at the end of its lateral band. The back is a straw like colour, and you can sometimes see a blue green iridescence as it moves about. About this time of year marks breeding season for the Bridle Shiner and you can tell by their fins, which become a pale yellow (in both males and females) and the side body of the males turn a yellow gold with their pectoral fins (side fin) becoming darker in colour.

Illustration of a Bridle Shiner (Photo: L. Bernatchez and M. Giroux 2000)

The Bridle Shiner is listed as a species of Special Concern both provincially and federally, although the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada has indicated that this species comes close to meeting the federal Threatened status requirements based on the decline of them and degradation of their habitat in the Quebec area.

You can find this species in clear, unpolluted streams, rivers and lakes that have a lot of aquatic vegetation which they use to hide in and forage for food. Bridle Shiners prefer warmer water where the bottom is made of organic debris, sand, or silt. This species is sensitive to chemical and sediment runoff from agricultural activities which end up decreasing the water quality. Other threats to the Bridle Shiner are the removal of aquatic vegetation, changes in water levels and disruption to natural water flow patterns and barriers.


The aquatic invasive species Eurasian Watermilfoil has been known to clog shallow spawning areas of this species and may also be contributing to the decline of the Bridle Shiner. Surprisingly, another aquatic invasive species, the Zebra Mussel, may be helping the Bridle Shiner. The Zebra Mussel is a filter feeder, which means to feed, this species sucks in water to get their food source (like plankton and other organic matter). They end up leaving the water cleaner, which is good for Bridle Shiners, but bad for other species as the Zebra Mussel takes food sources away from other native species!


What you can do to help this species

 If you have a waterfront residence, avoid disturbing their habitat. Don’t drive vehicles on streambeds or shorelines and try not to spread fertilizer or pesticides. If you’re a fisherman, don’t use Bridle Shiners as bait.


This article comes from the 12th edition of our bi-monthly e-newsletter The South Shoreliner.