Humpback chub (Gila cypha)

The humpback chub is a threatened, native fish of the Colorado River that evolved around 3-5 million years ago. The pronounced hump behind its head gives this fish a striking, unusual appearance. It has an olive-colored back, silver sides, a white belly, small eyes and a long snout that overhangs its jaw. Like the Colorado pikeminnow and bonytail, the humpback chub is a member of the minnow family.

The humpback chub is a relatively small fish by most standards – its maximum size is about 20 inches and 2.5 pounds. By minnow standards it is a big fish, though not like the giant of all minnows – the Colorado pikeminnow. Humpback chub can survive more than 30 years in the wild. It can spawn as young as 2 to 3 years of age during its March through July spawning season.

Although the humpback chub does not have the swimming speed or strength of the Colorado pikeminnow, its body is uniquely formed to help it survive in its whitewater habitat. The hump that gives this fish its name acts as a stabilizer and a hydrodynamic foil that helps it maintain position. The humpback chub uses its large fins to “glide” through slow-moving areas, feeding on insects that become trapped in water pockets.