• Family: Cyprinidae (Minnows and Carps)
• Other Names: Chub
• Ohio Status: No special status
• Adult Size: Typically 4-7 inches, can reach 9 inches.
• Typical Foods: Various aquatic invertebrates, and terrestrial insects that fall in the water.
Hornyhead chub have a fairly large mouth that ends before it reaches the front of the eye which has a small barbel in the rear corner on each side of the head. They have dark edges to the scales which gives them a crosshatched pattern over much of the body. They have darker brown backs with lighter brown or gold sides and a cream colored belly. They have a dark stripe down the side which is most visible on young and non-breeding adults. The fins, particularly the tail, often have a slight red or orange tinge to the otherwise brown coloration. They differ from the closely related river chub in having a shorter snout, slightly more terminal (ending at tip of snout) mouth, and a dark spot at the base of the tail which is most visible in young and females. Adult breeding males differ from river chub in having a bright red spot behind the eye and the breeding tubercles (horn like projections) on top of the head extend from a little in front of the eye to well behind the eye above the gill covers. Hornyhead chubs can also be mistaken for creek chubs which have a larger mouth extending just beyond the front edge of the eye, a dark base to the front edge of the dorsal fin, and lack the crosshatched body pattern formed by dark scale edges.
Habitat and Habits
Hornyhead chub are found in small to medium sized streams with a gravel or sand bottom. They are found in smaller streams than the closely related river chub and usually larger streams than creek chub. They also prefer slower currents than river chub. In Ohio they are common in the upper portion of Big and Little Darby Creeks, the upper Auglaize River, and the upper portion of the Cuyahoga River.
Reproduction and Care of the Young
Hornyhead chubs spawn in April and May. The males select spawning sites in smooth water with gravel substrate just above or below a riffle. At these sites, males build a mound by stacking up a pile of pebbles with their mouth. They spawn above this pile of pebbles and continue to add to it between spawning events. As spawning continues this activity creates a round mound of pebbles that can be 1-2 feet across and 6-8 inches high. Many other smaller species of fish will also sneak in and spawn in the nest of the chub taking advantage of the way the male aggressively defends the nest, which insures their eggs are protected as well.