Hiodon alosoidesGoldeye(Also: Shad mooneye; Toothed herring; Weepicheesis; Western goldeye)

Geographic Range

The goldeye, Hiodon alosoides, can be found in many northern latitude locations (Moon et al., 1998). In Canada, this species can be located from the Quebec-Ontario border to the Rocky Mountains and from northern Canada to the Great Lakes (Battle and Sprules, 1960).The goldeye is also widely distributed across the United States (Pankhurst, 1985). (Battle and Sprules, 1960; Moon, et al., 1998; Pankhurst, 1985)


In the U.S., the goldeye is most commonly found in larger river systems such as the Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, and Red Rivers (Claflin, 1963). In Canada, goldeye prefer deep pools and calm backwaters of large turbid rivers, as well as shallow muddy areas of clear lakes (Eakins, 2017). (Claflin, 1963; "The Ontario Freshwater Fishes Life History Database", 2017)

  • Aquatic Biomes
  • lakes and ponds
  • rivers and streams
  • temporary pools
  • brackish water
  • Range depth
    0 to 40 m
    0.00 to 131.23 ft
  • Average depth
    5 m
    16.40 ft

Physical Description

The goldeye was given it's name to due to the large yellow color in the iris of it's eyes. The goldeye's body is dominated by a silver color. The dorsal region of this fish has a blueish tint. The body type of the goldeye is considered to be laterally compressed and covered with large cycloid scales. The mouth is considered small and terminal. There are many teeth located on the upper and lower jaw as well as on the tongue. This species displays sexual dimorphism. Mature males and females display different anal fins. The first few rays of a mature male anal fin become elongated to form a distinct lobe. This lobe is absent in mature females (Chaflin, 1963). Common adult weights are 0.21 kg to 0.77 kg. The maximum weight recorded in Ontario Canada is 0.54 kg. Adults range from 25.9 cm to 40.6 cm in length. The maximum recorded length of a goldeye in Ontario Canada is 42.6 cm (Eakins, 2017). (Claflin, 1963; "The Ontario Freshwater Fishes Life History Database", 2017)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • sexes shaped differently
  • Range mass
    0.21 to 0.77 kg
    0.46 to 1.70 lb
  • Range length
    25.9 to 40.6 cm
    10.20 to 15.98 in


Goldeye add, on average, 50 to 100 grams to their body weight per year until age nine. After age nine, goldeye add an additional 10 grams per year to their total body weight (Donald and Sardella, 2010). Growth rates depend on location. Northern latitudes experience slower growth rates than southern latitudes. The goldeye grows the fastest during its first year. In the northern latitudes, the goldeye may reach 80 mm before the end of it's first summer (Warren and Burr, 2014). During the second year of life, growth rates decreased by 50%. During the third year of life, growth rates decreased from year two by slightly more than 50%. Growth rates from years four to seven remained constant. After age seven, growth rates are minimal (Warren and Burr, 2014). (Donald and Sardella, 2010; Warren and Burr, 2014)


Spawning has never been witnessed in the wild. Due to the nature of the modified anal fin of the male, it is thought that the male will cup his anal fin against a female and both the male and female release their gametes into the male's anal fin cup (Warren and Burr, 2014). (Warren and Burr, 2014)

Spawning occurs each spring (Kennedy and Sprules, 1967) and is thought to correlate with water temperature (Eakins, 2017). Spawning temperatures range from 10 to 13°C. Mature female goldeye spawn once each year. However, there is speculation that only a portion of mature female goldeye spawn each year (Hieb, 1968). Females lay anywhere from less then 6000 to 25,000 eggs. The eggs laid by females are non-adhesive and have an oil droplet making them semi-buoyant. After the eggs are laid, hatching occurs after approximately 2 weeks (Warren and Burr, 2014). (Hieb, 1968; Kennedy and Sprules, 1967; Warren and Burr, 2014)

  • Breeding interval
    Mature female goldeye spawn once yearly
  • Breeding season
  • Range number of offspring
    5800 to 25200
  • Average number of offspring
  • Average time to hatching
    Two weeks minutes
  • Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    7 to 10 years
  • Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
    6 to 9 years

The goldeye do not provide any post-spawning parental care (Warren and Burr, 2014). (Warren and Burr, 2014)

  • Parental Investment
  • no parental involvement


The lifespan for the goldeye is 10-14 years for males and 12-17 years for females (Eakins, 2017). The oldest goldeye ever captured was 30 years old (Warren and Burr, 2014). ("The Ontario Freshwater Fishes Life History Database", 2017; Warren and Burr, 2014)

  • Range lifespan
    Status: wild
    30 (high) years
  • Typical lifespan
    Status: wild
    10 to 17 hours


Goldeye are thought to be nocturnal or crepuscular, coming to the surface in the evenings during the morning or evenings, and at night, to feed (Warren and Burr, 2014). (Warren and Burr, 2014)

Home Range

No telemetry data exists for the goldeye making the homerange sizes difficult to determine (Warren and Burr, 2014). (Warren and Burr, 2014)

Communication and Perception

The goldeye has a connection between the inner-ear and the swim bladder. Similar to catfishes, the goldeye use this connection as a sound enhancer. Goldeye have tapida lucida in their eyes that reflect light in a way that suggests a mechanism to be able to see in turbid waters as well as to be able to see during low-light conditions (Warren and Burr, 2014). (Warren and Burr, 2014)

Food Habits

The goldeye is considered an invertivore (Eakins, 2017) and will eat a wide range of food items. These items include animals from the genus Arthropoda, Insecta, Odonata, Hemiptera, Coleoptera, Diptera, and Chironomidae (Hieb, 1968). (Hieb, 1968; Warren and Burr, 2014)

  • Animal Foods
  • mammals
  • fish
  • insects
  • mollusks
  • terrestrial worms
  • aquatic or marine worms


Goldeye are prey for fish such as pike (Esox spp.) and walleye (Sander vitreum). Birds and mammals are also know to prey upon goldeye (Warren and Burr, 2014). (Warren and Burr, 2014)

  • Known Predators
    • pike (Esox spp.)
    • walleye (Sander vitreum)

Ecosystem Roles

Goldeye are susceptible to becoming hosts to many parasites such as cestodes, crustaceans, nematodes, treamatodes, and acanthocephalans (Warren and Burr, 2014). (Warren and Burr, 2014)

Commensal/Parasitic Species
  • crestodes, trematodes, acanthocephalans, nematodes, and crustaceans

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

In Canada, in early 1900's goldeye received heavy commercial harvest pressure to be used as a source of food for people (Claflin, 1963). Smoked goldeye, considered by some as a table delicacy, reached it's peak in the commercial industry in the mid to late 1920's (Battle and Sprules, 1960). During the peak commercial harvesting, more than one million pounds of goldeye were harvested annually. (Battle and Sprules, 1960; Claflin, 1963)

  • Positive Impacts
  • food

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

There are no known adverse effects of goldeye on humans.

Conservation Status

The goldeye does not maintain a federal protection status in the United States or Canada. However, they are listed in many U.S. states as threatened or of special concern (Warren and Burr, 2014). Goldeye are listed on redlist as a species of least concern. (Warren and Burr, 2014)

Other Comments

General taxonomic information can be located at the Ontario freshwater fishes life history database and can also be located at fishbase.org.


Cameron Brock (author), Minnesota State University Mankato, Robert Sorensen (editor), Minnesota State University, Mankato, Tanya Dewey (editor), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.



living in the Nearctic biogeographic province, the northern part of the New World. This includes Greenland, the Canadian Arctic islands, and all of the North American as far south as the highlands of central Mexico.

World Map

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.

brackish water

areas with salty water, usually in coastal marshes and estuaries.


uses smells or other chemicals to communicate


active at dawn and dusk

external fertilization

fertilization takes place outside the female's body


union of egg and spermatozoan


A substance that provides both nutrients and energy to a living thing.


mainly lives in water that is not salty.


offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).


Having one mate at a time.


having the capacity to move from one place to another.


specialized for swimming

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.


active during the night


reproduction in which eggs are released by the female; development of offspring occurs outside the mother's body.

seasonal breeding

breeding is confined to a particular season


uses touch to communicate


Robert J. Eakins. 2017. "The Ontario Freshwater Fishes Life History Database" (On-line). Accessed April 05, 2017 at http://www.ontariofishes.ca/home.htm.

Battle, H., W. Sprules. 1960. A description of the semi-buoyant eggs and early developmental stages of the goldeye, (Rafinesque).. Journal of the Fisheries Research Board of Canada., 17/2: 245-266.

Claflin, T. 1963. Age and rate of growth of the goldeye, Hiodon Alosoides (Rafinesque), in the Missouri river. South Dakota: University of South Dakota Libraries.

Donald, D., G. Sardella. 2010. Mercury and other metals in muscle and ovaries of Goldeye (Hiodon alosoides). Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, 29/2: 373-379.

Hieb, R. 1968. Observations on the life history of the goldeye, Hiodon alosoides (rafinesque), in Moccasin Bay on the Little Missouri Arm, Garrison Reservoir, North Dakota. Grand Forks, North Dakota: University of North Dakota.

Kennedy, W., W. Sprules. 1967. Goldeye in Canada. Ottawa Canada: Queen's Printer.

Moon, D., S. Fisher, S. Krentz. 1998. Assessment of larval fish consumption by Goldeye (Hiodon alosoides) in two Missouri river backwaters. Journal of Freshwater Ecology, 13/3: 317-321. Accessed February 12, 2017 at http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02705060.1998.9663624.

Pankhurst, N. 1985. Final maturation and ovulation of oocytes of the goldeye, Hiodon alosoides (Rafinesque), in vitro.. Canadian Journal of Zoology, 63/5: 1003-1009.

Warren, M., B. Burr. 2014. Freshwater fishes of North America. Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press.