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Contact information
For information on Wisconsin's rare vertebrate animals, contact:
Rich Staffen
Conservation Biologist
For information on Wisconsin's rare invertebrates, contact:
Jay Watson
Conservation Biologist

Goldeye (Hiodon alosoides)



Goldeye (Hiodon alosoides), listed as Endangered in Wisconsin, prefers the quiet, turbid waters of large rivers and their connecting lakes ponds and marshes. Spawning occurs from May through early-July.

State status

Status and Natural Heritage Inventory documented occurrences in Wisconsin

The table below provides information about the protected status - both state and federal - and the rank (S and G Ranks) for Goldeye (Hiodon alosoides). See the Working List Key for more information about abbreviations. Counties shaded blue have documented occurrences for this species in the Wisconsin Natural Heritage Inventory database. The map is provided as a general reference of where occurrences of this species meet NHI data standards and is not meant as a comprehensive map of all observations.

Note: Species recently added to the NHI Working List may temporarily have blank occurrence maps.

Documented locations of Hiodon alosoides in the Natural Heritage Inventory Database as of July 2015.
Summary Information
State StatusEND
Federal Status in Wisconsinnone
State RankS2
Global RankG5
Tracked by NHIY

Species guidance

Note: a species guidance document is not available at this time. Information below was compiled from publication ER-091.

Identification: Compressed, white or silvery blue, streamline body. Bluntly-rounded snout, large mouth, large eyes with bright yellow iris, set in a small head. Adult length: 8-12 inches (20-30cm).

Habitat: Quiet, turbid (cloudy) waters of large rivers and associated small lakes, ponds and marshes, and the muddy shallows of larger lakes.

State Distribution: The Mississippi River, lower St. Croix River (to St. Croix Falls), lower Wisconsin River and lower Chippewa River form the eastern edge of its range, which covers the great plains. A map outlining Pre-1977 and 1997 to Present Distribution is available.

Phenology: Goldeyes overwinter in deeper areas of lakes and rivers. They move toward shallow, firm-bottomed spawning sites from May to the first week in July. Essentially nocturnal, their eyes are adapted to dim light conditions and turbid habitat.

Diet: Mainly surface feeders in shallow water, they eat grasshoppers, moths, fireflies, crustaceans, mollusks, frogs, shrews, mice, trout perch, shiners, darters and perch. Young-of-year feed mainly on smaller, microscopic crustaceans.

Management Guidelines: The major cause of decline is deterioration of water quality in the upper Mississippi River. Not only are they voracious hunters, goldeyes are also preyed upon by northern pike, walleye, birds and mammals. This species is also vulnerable to heavy fishing.




Side view adult.

Photo by John Lyons, WDNR.


Side view adult.

Photo by John Lyons, WDNR.


Close-up head.

Photo by John Lyons, WDNR.

Wildlife Action Plan

Wisconsin Wildlife Action Plan graphic

Natural community (habitat) associations

The table below lists the natural communities that are associated with Goldeye. Only natural communities for which Goldeye is "high" (score=3) or "moderate" (score=2) associated are shown. See the key to association scores for complete definitions. Please see the Wildlife Action Plan to learn how this information was developed.

Ecological landscape associations

The table below lists the ecological landscape association scores for Goldeye. The scores correspond to the map (3=High, 2=Moderate, 1=Low, 0=None). For more information, please see the Wildlife Action Plan.

This map shows the probability of Goldeye occurring in each of Wisconsin's Ecological Landscapes.  Actual scores can be found in the table to the left.

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Landscape-Community combinations of highest ecological priority*

Ecological priorities are the combinations of natural communities and ecological landscapes that provide Wisconsin's best opportunities to conserve important habitats for a given Species of Greatest Conservation Need. The 10 highest scoring combinations are considered ecological priorities and are listed below. More than 10 combinations are listed if multiple combinations tied for 10th place. For more information, please see the Wildlife Action Plan.

* Ecological priority score is a relative measure that is not meant for comparison between species. This score does not consider socio-economical factors that may dictate protection and/or management priorities differently than those determined solely by ecological analysis. Further, a low ecological priority score does not imply that management or preservation should not occur on a site if there are important reasons for doing so locally.

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Issues/threats and conservation actions

Conservation actions respond to issues or threats, which adversely affect species of greatest conservation need (SGCN) or their habitats. Besides actions such as restoring wetlands or planting resilient tree species in northern communities, research, surveys and monitoring are also among conservation actions described in the WWAP because lack of information can threaten our ability to successfully preserve and care for natural resources.

Threats/issues and conservations actions for rare animals

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Last revised: Thursday, December 22, 2022