Erimonax monachus

Spotfin Chub

FWS Focus


The spotfin chub was listed as threatened in 1977 due to degradation or outright destruction of their habitats.  River impoundments, channelization, pollution, siltation, and temperature change all contribute to the species decline. 

It is a member of the Cyprinidae fish family, which is also home to minnows and carp.  Cyprinidae is both the largest and most diverse fish family, and the largest vertebrate animal family.


The spotfin chub is found in large creeks and medium-sized rivers with clean and clear water and gravel, boulder, or bedrock substrate.  The fish is rarely seen over sand and appears to avoid silty areas.  

Physical characteristics

Spotfin chub is a small, slender fish, that grows up to four inches in length. Juveniles, females, and non-breeding males have tan-, gray-, or olive-colored backs, bright silvery sides, and white bellies. A dark spot is sometimes visible at the base of the tail. Large breeding males have olive or tan backs, brilliant iridescent turquoise or cobalt blue on the upper sides of their bodies and mid-sides and bellies that are silvery cream. Their fins are satiny turquoise and sometimes have a gold glint.     


Spotfin chubs spawn May through August based on water temperature and length of day. Females deposit eggs in crevices between rocks. Some individuals may spawn at one year, however most spotfin chubs reach sexual maturity at two years. Spotfin chubs typically do not live past three years.


The spotfin chub is native to the Tennessee River drainage, which includes portions of Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia, and Tennessee. The spotfin chub was known historically from twelve Tennessee River tributaries. Today it survives in four isolated tributary systems – the Buffalo River, Lewis County, Tennessee; Emory River (including the Obed River, Clear Creek, and Daddy’s Creek), Morgan, Cumberland, and Fentess Counties, Tennessee; North Fork Holston River, Hawkins and Sullivan Counties, Tennessee, and Scott and Washington Counties, Virginia; the Little Tennessee River, Macon and Swain Counties, North Carolina; and the Cheoah River, Graham County, North Carolina.  

Scientific Name

Erimonax monachus
Common Name
Spotfin Chub
FWS Category

Location in Taxonomic Tree

Identification Numbers



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