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Carps Minnows and Relatives: Cypriniformes

Stoneroller (campostoma Anomalum): Species Accounts

Physical characteristics: Stonerollers reach a maximum length of about 9 inches (23 centimeters) but are usually about 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 centimeters) long. The lower jaw has a shovel-like extension. Stonerollers are brownish with a brassy luster on the back. There is a dark vertical bar behind the gill cover, and the top and bottom fins have a dark crossbar about half way up. The rest of the fin is olive in females and fiery red in males in spring. In the spring, the head and sometimes the entire body of males are covered with large round bumps.

Geographic range: Stonerollers live in the eastern and central United States, southern Canada, and northern Mexico.

In breeding season male stonerollers dig spawning pits by driving their heads into the gravel. They move gravel from the pits by nudging stones out with their snouts, which is why they are called "stonerollers." (Illustration by Emily Damstra. Reproduced by permission.)

Habitat: Stonerollers live in fast streams with sand and gravel bottoms. They prefer areas where riffles and pools alternate in rapid succession.


Diet: Stonerollers mainly eat algae but also eat waste material and aquatic insects from rock surfaces.


Behavior and reproduction: In breeding season male stonerollers dig spawning pits by driving their heads into the gravel. They move gravel from the pits by nudging stones out with their snouts, which is why they are called "stonerollers," or by moving them with their mouths. Females remain in deeper water near the spawning pits and enter the pits individually or in groups to deposit eggs. The sticky eggs become lodged in the gravel and are abandoned before hatching.


Stonerollers and people: Stonerollers are not sought by fishermen.


Conservation status: Stonerollers are not threatened or endangered. ∎

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceFish and Other Cold-Blooded VertebratesCarps Minnows and Relatives: Cypriniformes - Behavior And Reproduction, Minnow, Carps, And Loaches And Their Relatives And People, Conservation Status - PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS, GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, DIET