SCIENTIFIC NAME: Cyprinella monacha
CHARACTERISTICS: The body form of Cyprinella monacha is elongate, terete, and somewhat triangular in cross section. The head is triangular and small in side view, with a distinctly inferior mouth. The spotfin chub was formerly referred to the genus Hybopis because of its barbel. It is readily distinguished from other Cyprinella species not only by its barbell but also by its 4 – 4 pharyngeal teeth and more than 50 lateral line scales (most other species in the genus have 1,4 – 4,1 teeth and around 40 lateral line scales). Breeding males have a brilliant turquoise-royal blue color along the back, side of the head, and upper part of the sides. During peak nuptial activity, the fins are tipped with milky white. See Cope (1868b) for original description.
ADULT SIZE: 2.2 to 3.3 in (55 to 85 mm)
DISTRIBUTION: This species is endemic to the Tennessee River drainage in upland habitats of Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina, and Virginia, but it has not been found for some time in Alabama and Georgia. In any case, its occurrence is rare throughout its range. In Alabama it has been collected at only two locations: in Little Bear Creek near Tuscumbia, Colbert County (one specimen), and in Shoal Creek near Florence, Lauderdale County (three specimens). The Little Bear Creek collection was made in 1937, the Shoal Creek collection in 1884 – in both cases before the Tennessee Valley Authority impounded the Tennessee River. The species’ current presence in Alabama is in doubt, though acceptable habitat may occur in the upper Shoal Creek, Elk River, or Paint Rock River systems.
HABITAT AND BIOLOGY: The spotfin chub prefers clear, medium-sized upland rivers with moderate or swift current over boulder substrates. Adults are found in swift current, while juveniles are often found in slow current over gravel (Jenkins and Burkhead, 1984). The species feeds primarily on immature aquatic insects (such as midges, blackflies, mayflies, and caddisflies) and lives for more than three years. The spotfin chub reportedly reproduces from late May to August and is a fractional crevice spawner on rocks, logs, and other similar cover.
REMARKS: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has listed the spotfin chub as a threatened species.
ORIGINAL DESCRIPTION: Cope described the spotfin chub in 1868.
Cyprinella means diminutive of Cyprinus, the carp.
Monacha means solitary, reflecting the discoverer’s perception of its rarity.
The copyrighted information above is from Fishes of Alabama and the Mobile Basin. Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division protects this fish from capture or possession. Federally listed as threatened, the US Fish and Wildlife Service has more information on the spotfin chub.
Note: In Alabama, it is illegal to stock or move any fish, mussel, snail or crayfish to any public water without a permit.