Hiodon alosoides (Rafinesque, 1819)

member of the Mooneye Family (Hiodontidae)

Missouri River, Chouteau County, Montana June 1984













What's In a Name?
Goldeye: named from the gold eye seen in some of these fish

Hiodon (hi-oh-don´) means "toothed hyoid" in Greek referring to the "tongue" bone
alosoides (al-oh-soy´-deez) means "shad-like" in Greek and Latin, referring to its resemblance to a freshwater herring


    Where Do They Live?
Goldeye are in all of Minnesota's major river drainage systems, except the upper Mississippi River and Lake Superior drainage systems. They are especially abundant in Lake of the Woods and Red Lakes. They favor the more quiet areas of turbid (cloudy) rivers and their connected lakes and marshy backwaters or the shallow, muddy areas of larger lakes.


How Big Do They Get?
How Long Do They Live?
In Minnesota, this fish commonly gets to 350-430 mm (1.4-1.7 in) and 400-600 g (1-2 lbs). Sometimes it reaches 425 mm (17 in) and 1.4 kg (3 lbs). The state record for this fish is 1.1 kg (2 lbs 6 oz). It was caught in the Root River in Houston County. Goldeye are known to live for 10 years, but 5-7 is more usual.

    What Do They Eat?
The goldeye is an opportunistic carnivore (it eats whatever animals it can). Its most frequent menu items are aquatic insect larvae and fish of every species that live in the same habitat and are small enough to be swallowed. But over the years, their stomachs have contained the following additional items: worms, snails, waterfleas, sideswimmers, terrestrial (land) insects (including lighting bugs), frogs, mice, and shrews.

What Eats Them?
The predatory fish that commonly eat the goldeye are large northern pike, sauger, and walleye. Since they often feed near or at the surface of the water, fish-eating birds and some certain mammals also prey upon them. In some large lakes, goldeye are harvested commercially.


How Do They Reproduce?
In Minnesota, male and female goldeye usually spawn for the first time at 3 years old. Their spawning season may be as early as late April in southern Minnesota. Spawning usually begins when the water temperature reaches 10° C (50° F). In larger rivers, the spawning areas are located in shallow, turbid (cloudy) pools and backwaters. No one has ever observed actual spawning of this species. We believe that they release their eggs into the water column because the fertilized eggs are semi-floating and nearly transparent (see-through). They hatch in about 2 weeks and the larvae float vertically at the surface for a time. A single female can release 5,000-25,00 eggs, depending on her size.


Conservation and Management
The goldeye has been an important commercial species in Canada for over 150 years. It was an important species in northern Minnesota at one time, especially in the Red Lakes and Lake of the Woods. It is a fun fish to catch on hook and line, but few anglers fish for it.




Permission is granted for the non-commercial educational or scientific use of the text and images on this Web document. Please credit the author or authors listed below.

Photographs by Konrad P. Schmidt
Text by Nicole Paulson & Jay T. Hatch in cooperation with
the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources' MinnAqua Aquatic Program

This page developed with funds from the
MinnAqua Program (Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Division of Fisheries)
and the
Sport Fish Restoration Program (Fish and Wildlife Service, US Department of the Interior)

Maintained by Jay T. Hatch
General College and James Ford Bell Museum of Natural History
University of Minnesota, Minneapolis/St. Paul

Last updated 23 October 2002