Hornyhead Chub (Nocomis biguttatus)
The hornyhead chub, also known as the redtail chub, is olive brown on the back, silvery on the sides, and creamy below. At the base of the tail, which is red, young fish have a distinct spot. This spot becomes less distinct with age. Adult males reach a length of about 6 to 9 inches (females are smaller). This fish found in tributaries of French Creek and the Niagara River, in scattered tributaries to southern Lake Ontario, and in a few streams in the Mohawk River system. It does not inhabit the Susquehanna, Delaware, or Hudson rivers. It lives in warm rivers and creeks specifically in areas where aquatic plants occur.
Spawning occurs from late May through June. A nest is constructed by the male which moves materials away from an area 1 to 2 feet in diameter, then piles pebbles in the cavity to a height of 6 inches. At spawning, eggs drop between the pebbles in the nest. Although the male hornyhead will drive off others of the same species, it tolerates other kinds of fish. Blacknose dace, common shiner, and stoneroller minnows, among others, use these nests for spawning. During the spawning period, males develop nuptial tubercles on the head from the snout to well behind the eyes.
The hornyhead feeds primarily on insect larvae, but eats other small animals, such as earthworms and crustaceans; some algae is also eaten. It is used occasionally as a bait fish.
Distribution of hornyhead chub in NY state. Dark dots represent where actual samples of hornyhead chubs were taken. White dots represent historic distributions.
A 270 KB image of the hornyhead chub is also available for download.