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Wildlife Bonytail Page


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 Bonytail
 Gila elegans

Habitat: Little is known about this species. The bonytail prefers eddies and pools, not swift currents (Vanicek and Kramer 1969).

Description: A highly streamlined fish; concave skull arching into a nuchal hump predorsally; caudal peduncle pencillike, long and slender; snout does not overhang upper lip; scales often minute or absent from chest, stomach and caudal peduncle; fins falcate with 10 dorsal fin rays, and 1011 anal fin rays; in young, less than 5.9 inches, eye diameter greater than 2/3 caudal peduncle depth. Adults are dark on top, light below. Often they are very dark in clear waters and pale in turbid waters. Fins are dusky with yellow pigment near base (Minckley 1973). Adults (7 years of age) can be 14 inches long and weigh more than one pound (Vanicek and Kramer 1969).

Range in Colorado: Found historically throughout the Colorado River Drainage, in recent years bonytail have only been taken from the Green River in Utah and lakes Havasu and Mohave (Miller, et al. 1982). Jordan (1891) reported one bonytail from the Gunnison River near Delta and other specimens have been taken in the Green River in Colorado. No bonytails had been collected in Colorado for several years until 1984, when one individual was collected at the Black Rock area of the Colorado River west of Grand Junction, Colorado, (L. Keading, personal communication). The bonytail is listed as a federal and state endangered species.

Status: Federally Endangered, State Endangered






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