Bluehead chub

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Bluehead chub
Nocomis leptocephalus.jpg
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Cypriniformes
Family: Cyprinidae
Subfamily: Leuciscinae
Genus: Nocomis
N. leptocephalus
Binomial name
Nocomis leptocephalus
( Girard, 1856)

Ceratichthys leptocephalus Girard 1856

The bluehead chub (Nocomis leptocephalus) [2] ) is a cyprinid native to North America. Its name is due to its appearance, as breeding males have a blue head. [3] Adult bluehead chubs are, on average, between 70 and 160 mm in length. [3] They have a robust body with uniformly large scales. [4] The scales are present on the belly and breast. [5] They have a pored body, a weakly falcate pectoral fin, and pharyngeal teeth. [5] They have a large mouth, small eyes, and a terminal barbel. [4] Other characteristics include a darkened lateral band, spot on the caudal fin, and red coloration of the fins and iris of the eyes. [4] They have 40 lateral line scales and 8 anal rays. [4] The bluehead chub is a freshwater fish, and lives in pools, rivers, and streams. [6] They feed on insects and plants. [6]


Bluehead chubs inhabit freshwater pools, creeks, and small to medium rivers with sandy or rocky bottoms. [7] They live in warm to cool waters that have swift currents and are usually turbid. [8]

Reproduction and life cycle

Bluehead chubs spawn in the spring and reproduce by external fertilization in which the female releases eggs onto the bottom and the male releases sperm to fertilize the eggs. [6] The male makes a nest of gravel in a mound for the female to deposit the eggs. After fertilization, the male guards the eggs until they hatch. They mature for three years before reaching reproductive maturity.


The bluehead chub is native to the United States and can be found in the southeastern United States. It is distributed throughout the York River system of Virginia, the Atlantic and Gulf coast drainage, and the lower Mississippi River drainage into Mississippi and Louisiana. [4] Its range includes Virginia, West Virginia, Alabama, Mississippi, North Carolina, Florida and Louisiana. [9] As a result of bait bucket releases by fishermen, the bluehead chub has spread to multiple drainage basins in which it is not native. [9]


The genus name Nocomis comes from the Native American name for "grandmother". [7]


  1. ^ NatureServe (2013). "Nocomis leptocephalus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2013: e.T202275A18230363. doi: 10.2305/IUCN.UK.2013-1.RLTS.T202275A18230363.en.
  2. ^ "Nocomis leptocephalus: Accepted name". Retrieved 1 January 2013.
  3. ^ a b "Bluehead Chub, Nocomis leptocephalus". The Virginia Fish and Wildlife Information Service. Archived from the original on 8 March 2015. Retrieved 1 January 2013.
  4. ^ a b c d e Douglas, Neil (1974). Freshwater Fishes of Louisiana. Claitor's Publishing Division.
  5. ^ a b Ross, Stephen (2001). Inland Fishes of Mississippi. Jackson, MS: University Press of Mississippi.
  6. ^ a b c "Nocomis leptocephalus, Bluehead chub". Retrieved 1 January 2013.
  7. ^ a b "Nocomis leptocephalus summary page". FishBase. Retrieved March 20, 2017.
  8. ^ "Nocomis leptocephalus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Retrieved March 20, 2017.
  9. ^ a b "Bluehead chub (Nocomis leptocephalus) - FactSheet". United States Geological Survey. Retrieved 1 January 2013.