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Hornyhead Chub

Hornyhead Chub

North Dakota Species of Conservation Priority III
Fact Sheet
Genus species Nocomis biguttatus
General Description Member of the minnow family growing to 10 inches in length. Olive on top and grows lighter as you move down the body with an iridescent stripe along back. Belly pale yellow. Bright red spot behind eye on males, brassy in females. Males have many small bumps or tubercles on head.
Status Year-round resident.
Abundance Locally Common.
Primary Habitat Found in pools and slow runs of clear, small rivers.
Federal Status None.
Reason for Designation Only known to occur in the Forest and Park rivers in North Dakota. Water quality degradation is a concern for the rivers this species inhabits.

Locations and Conditions of Key Habitat

Preferred Habitat

Found in pools and slow runs of clear, small rivers.

Key Areas and Conditions for Hornyhead Chub in North Dakota

The Hornyhead Chub is presently found in the Forest and Park rivers. Historically it was also in the Sheyenne and Maple rivers but has not been documented there recently.

Problems Which May Affect this Species


Degradation of quality habitat is recognized as the leading cause for decline of this species; specifically, loss and destruction of riparian habitat along waterways caused by current land use practices.

Other Natural or Manmade Factors

The addition of dams to many streams in the Red River drainage has changed the flow regime and blocked fish movement, segmenting populations. A decrease in water quality has contributed to the decline of this species.

Research and Survey Efforts

Current Research or Surveys

  • There is no research currently targeting this species.

Previous Research or Surveys

  • Red River basin streams were surveyed during the 1960s by the University of North Dakota (UND).
  • In the late 1970s, Red River basin stream surveys were conducted by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Ecological Services Section (MDNR ECO).
  • A survey was conducted on the Red River during 1983 and 1984.
  • Investigations of stream fishes in the Red River basin occurred during 1993 and 1994 as a part of two major studies.
  • Several sites throughout the basin have been sampled for fishes using electro-fishing gear by the MDNR, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA), North Dakota Department of Health (NDDH), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). These studies are a part of the USGS National Water Quality Assessment program (Stoner et al. 1993) and the development of an index of biotic integrity for fishes in the basin (Goldstein et al. 1994).
  • A survey of the Sheyenne River and its tributaries within the Sheyenne National Grasslands was conducted by Brooks in 2000.
  • South Dakota State University surveyed the stream fish of the Red River and its drainages in 2008.
  • South Dakota State University surveyed western North Dakota streams in 2010.
  • A survey effort was conducted in the Sheyenne River by Valley City State University in 2012.
  • A survey effort was conducted in Baldhill Creek by Valley City State University in 2013.

Additional Research or Surveys Needed

Develop a protocol to monitor stream fish.

Management Recommendations

  • Protect rivers, streams, and riparian areas where possible (i.e. easements and/or acquisition).
  • Work with partners to ensure Swampbuster provisions are maintained.
  • Continue to use the Section 404 program to ensure affected rivers and riparian areas are mitigated to replace form and function.
  • Continue to work with other federal agencies (i.e. FAA and FHWA) not covered by Section 404 or Swampbuster to ensure affected rivers and riparian areas are mitigated to replace form and function.
  • Continue to work with NDSWC to develop minimum in-stream flow recommendations.
  • Develop and promote incentive programs to restore riparian areas.
  • Continue to work with ND 319 Task Force in prioritizing projects within impaired watersheds and implementing BMP’s.
  • Develop and promote incentive programs for adjacent landowners to improve bank stability through land use changes (e.g. RRBRP).
  • Promote non-traditional bank stabilization measures (i.e. root wads, willow waddles, vegetative slope).
  • Implement intake conditions or recommendations (i.e. screening and velocity requirements).
  • Work with the dam owners for potential removal or modification.
  • Cooperate with Fisheries Division on state aquatic nuisance species plan.
  • Survey areas of data gaps. Conduct research/surveys to establish baseline information on SCP.
  • Continue to work with partners in promoting and distributing educational materials related to river, stream and riparian values and good stewardship.

Monitoring Plans

No monitoring plan has been identified for this species. The North Dakota Department of Health conducts Index of Biotic Integrity (IBI) surveys for all of North Dakota’s watersheds. This will document all species encountered.

2005-2015 Progress

The Hornyhead Chub maintains its Level III Species of Conservation Priority. The most recent survey of stream fish documented the Hornyhead Chub in only the Forest and Park rivers. Sites within their range need to be revisited to evaluate their status in the state.

Range Map

Note: A listing of works consulted when compiling the information on this page may be found in the 2015 State Wildlife Action Plan.