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CDOW Website NDIS Home

Wildlife Humpback Chub Page


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This photograph may be used for non-commercial purposes.  Please give credit to the photographer.
Photo by: John Woodling
 Humpback Chub
 Gila cypha

Habitat: This big river fish lives where water depth, velocity, and turbidity make direct observation difficult. The Black Rocks area is a river reach of deep, fast water with a sand, gravel, boulder bedrock stream bed. The fish are not found in areas of swift current, but prefer slower eddies and pools (T. Lytle, personal communication). Humpback chubs are found to be concentrated in such river areas, and not found in other habitat types. Conversely, exotic and other native species are not normally found in humpback habitats, (Valdez et al. 1982). Tagging studies show that humpback chubs in the Black Rocks area rarely move more than 0.5 miles from the spot they were first collected and marked (Miller et al. 1982).

Description: A streamlined minnow; concave skull; a prominent nuchal hump at occiput (back end of head marked by a line separating scaleless and scaled portions of epidermis); caudal peduncle thin but not long; snout overhangs upper lip; scales often minute or absent on keel; fins falcate with 9 dorsal fin rays and 10 or more anal fin rays. Adults are dark on top and light below. Fins rarely have yellow-orange pigment near base. Adults are usually 12-16 inches long and weigh from 3/4 - 2 pounds.

Range in Colorado: Humpback chub historically ranged in the mainstem Colorado River downstream to below the Hoover Dam site (Miller, 1955). Present populations are restricted to areas in, and upstream, of the Grand Canyon. In Colorado, the humpback chub has been found in the Yampa, Gunnison, Green, and Colorado rivers. The greatest numbers of humpbacks in Colorado are taken at the Black Rocks area of the Colorado River downstream of Grand Junction. The humpback chub is a federal and state endangered species.

Status: Federally Endangered, State Threatened






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