Spotfin Chub: 21 Facts You Won't Believe!

Spotfin Chub Fact File

The spotfin chub is a species of small fish found in fresh, clear, and running water. This fish variety is endemic to the Tennessee River drainage. Earlier, it was found in at least five states, namely, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, Virginia, and North Carolina. Spotfin chubs were also found in many of the tributaries of the Tennessee River. Now, conservation efforts are on to increase their population.

This fish species is also known by other names including turquoise shiner and Hybopsis monacha. Spotfin chubs measure between 2.2-3.5 in (5.5-8.8 cm). They are olive or grayish on their back and silvery on their fins. Because of the predominant silver-gray color, it’s also called chromium shiner. Since they live in clearwater, they look brilliantly shiny. The belly is usually white and there is an occasional black spot on the tail. They are originally insectivores, residing in the depth of water bodies. But as they mature, they transform into an open-water species.

In 1977, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service declared them as ‘threatened’ under the Endangered Species. The population of spotfin chub today is extremely limited. The government is making serious efforts to propagate and increase their numbers.

Efforts are being made to relocate these fish populations to other rivers. For instance, they are being relocated from the Little Tennessee River to the Abrams creek and the Tellico River, and from the Emory River to the Shoal creek in Tennessee. Shoal Creek is a stream and watershed.

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Spotfin Chub

Fact File

What do they prey on?

Black fly, stonefly, larvae of caddisflies, midges

What do they eat?


Average litter size?

200 to 300

How much do they weigh?

0.11-0.22 lb (49-99 g)

How long are they?

2.2-3.5 in (5.5-8.8 cm)

How tall are they?


What do they look like?

Olive, gray, silver fins, white bellies

Skin Type

Wet and slimy scales

What are their main threats?

Damming, pollution, sedimentation, competitive species, humans

What is their conservation status?


Where you'll find them



Southeastern regions of North America, Alabama, Tennessee, North Carolina





Scientific Name

Cyprinella monacha





Spotfin Chub Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a spotfin chub?

A spotfin chub is a fish of the genus Cyprinidae and belonging to the family Leuciscus. They are a group of bony fishes. They generally feed on insects such as black flies, stoneflies, and caddisflies. Their current conservation status is Endangered.

What class of animal does a spotfin chub belong to?

These fish belong to the class Actinopterygii, a group of bony fishes.

How many spotfin chubs are there in the world?

They are drastically declining in population. They have been enlisted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as Threatened under the Endangered Species. Construction of dams, sedimentation, and competition from the minnow species has made them vulnerable species. Initially, they had a range of five states – Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, Virginia, and North Carolina. Most spotfin chubs come from the 12 tributaries of the Tennessee River. But they are now restricted to just four tributaries - Little Tennessee River, Holston River, Buffalo River, and Emory River.

Where does a spotfin chub live?

Spotfin chub fishes are mostly found in upland freshwater. They thrive in clear running water. They don’t survive in water with increased levels of suspended particles. They are endemic to the Tennessee River drainage and were found in Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Virginia. They were also found in the 12 tributaries of the Tennessee River.

What is a spotfin chub's habitat?

They usually reside in streams of clear water with moderate depth and temperature, and moderate current. Their eurythermal nature helps them to withstand a wide range of habitats. During the summer season, they live in clear and moderately hot areas and they prefer a habitat with bedrock bottoms. In winter, they go for pools and bottoms that are sandy. During their embryonic period, they usually reside in the deeper portions of the river. But as they mature, they become more of an open-water species and expand their habitat.

Who do spotfin chubs live with?

Spotfin chubs are now found in small numbers in select tributaries of the Tennessee River. Right now, the population of spotfin chubs has drastically reduced since before 1977. The US government put this fish under the Threatened category and launched various plans for its propagation. Because of these reasons, spotfin chubs are not kept in private aquariums.

How long does a spotfin chub live?

It has an average lifespan of three years. They are one of the endangered fish species. In recent times, their habitat has reduced significantly.  

How do they reproduce?

Spawning in Spotfin chubs is based on photoperiod. The male acquires a turquoise-blue body and white border on its fins during the spawning period. The female spotfin chubs deposit 200 to 500 eggs in the crevices of the boulders that form the substrate. From these, the male or the female parent eats up those eggs, which are not covered by the boulders and remain exposed. The male spotfin later milts and thereby fertilizes the eggs. The male also guards the eggs by repeatedly checking over the eggs. The fertilized egg or the embryo remains in the bottom layer of the river for around 30 days. They later become pelagic and move towards the water and begin to feed on the aquatic insects.

What is their conservation status?

They have been enlisted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as a Threatened Species. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species has declared it as Vulnerable. Attempts are being made to relocate these populations to other rivers. For example, they are being shifted from the Little Tennessee River to the Abrams creek and the Tellico River, and from the Emory River to the Shoal creek in Tennessee. This is being done to diversify their habitat.

Spotfin Chub Fun Facts

What do spotfin chubs look like?

Spotfin chub is a very slender fish.

They are olive or grayish on their back and silver on their fins. They have a white belly and an occasional black spot on their tail. In the rivers, they look beautiful. These bony fishes are usually 2.2-3.5 in (5.5-8.8 cm) in length.

How cute are they?

Male spotfin chubs are very attractive during their breeding period because they acquire a turquoise-blue color on their body and a white border on their fins. Their small size and clean habitat of clear running water also make them look cute.

How do they communicate?

There is little information about the way they communicate. However, fish, in general, communicate through sound, color, motion, smell, bioluminescence, and electrical impulses.

How big is a spotfin chub?

With a slender body, the spotfin chub is a small fish that measures 2.2-3.5 in (5.5-8.8 cm) in length. They are half the length of a river chub.

How fast can a spotfin chub swim?

Spotfin chubs can swim fast. Their triangular-shaped fins and split tail fins help them to swim faster. They prefer to live in running water with current. This requires them to be strong swimmers.

How much does a spotfin chub weigh?

An average spotfin chub would weigh about 1.76 0z (50 g). Some can grow bigger up to 3.5 oz (100 g). Even the heaviest of them is eight times smaller than a fallfish.

What are the male and female names of the species?

The male and female members of this fish are known as male spotfin chubs and female spotfin chubs, respectively.

What would you call a baby spotfin chub?

Baby spotfin chub is called juvenile spotfin chub.

What do they eat?

Hybopsis monacha, or spotfin chubs, generally feed on aquatic insects such as black flies, stoneflies, and the larvae of caddis fly.  

Are they dangerous?

They are not dangerous. Rather, they are small beautiful fish that themselves are endangered.

Would they make a good pet?

It is not possible to make them a pet because they are an endangered species. To protect them, attempts are being made to propagate and relocate this fish species. They are also being relocated from the Little Tennessee River to the Abrams creek and the Tellico River, and from the Emory River to the Shoal creek in Tennessee.

Did you know...

Spotfin chubs are sight feeders. They choose tiny insects, like a moth, from clean surfaces. Another specialty of the spotfin chub is that their spawning period is determined based on the photoperiod and temperature. This means that the duration of daylight and night decides their time of spawning.

The spotfin chub as an endemic species

Hybopsis monacha or spotfin chubs are endemic to the Tennessee River. This fish population was originally found in the range of five states - Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, Virginia. Earlier, they were found in 12 tributaries of the Tennessee River. Now, their range has reduced and they can be found in only four tributaries - Little Tennessee, Buffalo, Holston, and Emory River.

Naming the spotfin chub

Spotfin chubs are known by many names. The names include Erimonax monachus, Hybopsis monacha, Cirrhitichthys monachus and Cyprinella monacha.

Due to the blue color that the male spotfin chub assumes during the breeding season, it is also called a turquoise shiner. In general, spotfin chubs have a silver-gray color, making people also call it chromium shiner.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these Atlantic herring facts and hogfish facts for kids.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable Spotfin chub coloring pages.



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