Nevada Fish & Wildlife Office
Pacific Southwest Region

Virgin River Chub
(Gila seminuda)

Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Cypriniformes
Family: Cyprinidae
Genus: Gila
Species: seminuda
Length: 8 to 18 inches
Lifespan: 8 to 10 years
Feed: zooplankton, aquatic insect larvae, other invertebrates, debris, and algae
Habitat: occurrs only in the Virgin River system of southwestern Utah, southern Nevada, and northwestern Arizona

Official Status:


Life History:

The Virgin chub, Gila seminuda , is an extremely rare minnow, occurring only in the Virgin River system of southwestern Utah, southern Nevada, and northwestern Arizona. In Utah, the species is restricted to limited areas of the main-stem Virgin River. Virgin River chub have been drastically reduced in numbers and distribution from historic times, primarily due to flow alterations and exotic fishes (that compete with and prey upon Virgin River chub). Consequently, the Virgin River chub is Federally listed as an endangered species.

Virgin River chub are opportunistic feeders, consuming zooplankton, aquatic insect larvae, other invertebrates, debris, and algae. Interestingly, the diet of many adults is composed primarily of algae, whereas the diets of younger fish contain more animal matter. The species spawns during late spring and early summer over gravel or rock substrate. No parental care is provided for the eggs, which hatch in one week or less. Virgin River chub are usually associated with deep, protected areas of swift water.

Distribution and Habitat:

  Historical: Endemic to 134 miles of the Virgin River in extreme northwestern Arizona, Nevada, and Utah. Also found in the Moapa River in Nevada. Current: Similar to historical range. Occurs within the Moapa River and the mainstream Virgin River from Pah Tempe Springs downstream to the Mesquite Diversion in extreme northwestern Arizona (Mohave County). Only the Virgin River population is listed.

Most common in deeper areas where waters are swift, but not turbulent, as is generally associated with boulders or other cover. It occurs over sand and gravel substrates in water less than 86° F, and is very tolerant of high salinity and turbidity. Found in habitats below (4,500 ft in elevation.



Habitat changes (water impoundments and diversions); diseases, such as Asian fish tapeworm; floods; toxic spills; and competition with exotic fishes, specifically the red shiner. Particularly vulnerable to these threats due to its very limited distribution.


Actions / Current Information:


  Date Title
  05/01/2008 Virgin River Fishes 5-Year Review (.5MB PDF)
  09/2003 Virgin River Fish (general): Environmental Assessment Finding of No Significant Impact September 2003 Amendment
Last updated: April 16, 2014