Ambloplites rupestris
Ambloplites rupestris
(Rock Bass)
Native Transplant
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Ambloplites rupestris (Rafinesque, 1817)

Common name: Rock Bass

Taxonomy: available through www.itis.govITIS logo

Identification: Becker (1983); Page and Burr (1991); Etnier and Starnes (1993); Jenkins and Burkhead (1994).

Size: 43 cm.

Native Range: St. Lawrence River and Great Lakes, Hudson Bay (Red River), and Mississippi River basins, from Quebec to Saskatchewan, south to the Savannah River drainage, Georgia, and northern Alabama, and Missouri (native in Missouri only to the Meramec River) (Page and Burr 1991; Cashner et al. 1992).

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Native range data for this species provided in part by NatureServe NS logo
Interactive maps: Point Distribution Maps

Nonindigenous Occurrences: Rock Bass have been stocked within their native range, as well as in nonnative areas in the following areas: the lower Neosho and Illinois drainages, and Dardanelle Reservoir in Arkansas (Lee et al. 1980 et seq.; Cross et al. 1986; Robison and Buchanan 1988); lakes above the Mogollon Rim, the upper Verde system, and lowermost Clear Creek in the Little Colorado drainage in Arizona (Minckley 1973; Miller and Lowe 1967); Napa Creek (a tributary of San Pablo Bay), Feather River, a pond near Lake Morena (San Diego County), and perhaps Lake Cuyamaca (San Diego County), California (Smith 1896; Shebley 1917; Dill and Cordone 1997); the vicinity of Las Animas in the upper Arkansas drainage, Colorado (Ellis 1974); Connecticut, Thames and Housatonic drainages in Connecticut (Behnke and Wetzel 1960; Whitworth et al. 1968; Whitworth 1996); Brandywine system in Delaware (Raasch and Altemus 1991); Rock Creek Park in the District of Columbia (Tilmant 1999); Payette and Troy in the Payette and Clearwater systems in Idaho (Linder 1963); non-specific areas in Indiana (Sweeney 1902); Shoal Creek in Cherokee County, Kansas (Clarke et al. 1958; Cross 1967; Cross and Collins 1995); most of western Maryland, including the Potomac drainage and the western part of the upper Chesapeake drainages (Lee et al. 1976, 1980 et seq.; Jenkins and Burkhead 1994; Rohde et al. 1994; Tilmant 1999; Starnes et al. 2011); drainages in central and western Massachusetts (Hartel 1992), including the Connecticut, Hoosic, and Housatonic drainages (Cardoza et al. 1993; Hartel et al. 1996) and the Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge in Franklin County (USFWS 2005); the lower Missouri and the Neosho drainage (Lee et al. 1980 et seq.; Cross et al. 1986) and possibly the Osage and Gasconade drainages (Pflieger 1975, 1997; Lee et al. 1980 et seq.) in Missouri; the Tongue River, Montana (Brown 1971; Cross et al. 1986; Holton 1990); in all major drainages in Nebraska (Jones 1963); Connecticut River and Granite Lake in Stoddard, New Hampshire (Scarola 1973); West Creek in southern Ocean County and the Delaware River and its tributaries in New Jersey (Nelson 1890; Fowler 1906, 1952; Stiles 1978); the Rio Grande and its reservoirs including Elephant Butte and Caballo, the Pecos River including Bataan and Carlsbad reservoirs, and Blue Spring near Carlsbad, New Mexico (Koster 1957; Sublette et al. 1990); the Hudson River (Mills et al. 1997) and Roosevelt-Vanderbilt Headquarters National Historic Sites (Tilmant 1999) New York ; probably introduced into the New, Dan, Broad, Catawba and Yadkin drainages, North Carolina (Hocutt et al. 1986; Menhinick 1991); Robert S. Kerr Reservoir and the Neosho drainage in Oklahoma (Lee et al. 1980 et seq.; Cashner and Matthews 1988); Willamette River in Oregon (Lampman 1946); eastern rivers, mountain lakes and larger streams in Pennsylvania, including the Susquehanna River, Delaware River, and Yellow Breeches River (Ford et al. 1892; Lee et al. 1980 et seq.; Hocutt et al. 1986; Tilmant 1999); Hartwell Lake, Flat Shoal Creek. and the Santee drainage in South Carolina (Hocutt et al. 1986; Rohde et al. 2009) Note: Rhode et al. 2009 does not include the Rock Bass in the Santee River. The Rock Bass occurs in the Cheyenne drainage, South Dakota (Bailey and Allum 1962); Lake Texoma (Grayson County) and upper Guadalupe, Comal, and San Marcos rivers, and the Colorado and San Antonio Bay drainages in Texas (Conner and Suttkus 1986; Hubbs et al. 1991; Howells 1992a; Rasmussen 1998); Bear River and Utah Lake, Utah (Popov and Low 1953; Sigler and Miller 1963; Sigler and Sigler 1996); Potomac, Dan, Rappahannock, James, Roanoke, and New drainages in Virginia (Lee et al. 1980 et seq.; Hocutt et al. 1986; Jenkins and Burkhead 1994); American and Steilacoom lakes in Pierce County, Patterson Lake, Saint Clair Lake in Thurston County (Slipp 1943), Skookumchuk River, Silver Lake, Lake Kapowsin, and Long Lake near Olympia, and Chehalis River in Washington (Wydoski and Whitney 1979; Beecher and Fernau 1982); Potomac, James, and New drainages in West Virginia (Lee et al. 1980 et seq.; Stauffer et al. 1995); and the Tongue River, Lake DeSmet, LAK Reservoir, and ponds in northeastern Wyoming (Simon 1946; Baxter and Simon 1970; Brown 1971; Holton 1990; Hubert 1994; Stone 1995).

Means of Introduction: Intentional stocking for sportfishing. Introduced into the Tongue River in Wyoming and moved downstream into Montana (Holton 1990). Rock Bass were extensively stocked in Missouri by state personnel during the 1930s and 1940s (Pflieger 1997). Probably gained access to the Hudson River in New York via migration through either the Erie and/or the Champlain canals (Mills et al. 1997). They were first taken there in a 1932 survey (Mills et al. 1997).

Status: Established in most locations. Extirpated in California (Hubbs et al. 1979; Dill and Cordone 1997). Reports of Rock Bass in California after circa 1930 are apparently erroneous; see Dill and Cordone (1997) for discussion. Apparently extirpated in Idaho; Simpson and Wallace (1978) do not mention it in their book of Idaho fishes. Extirpated in Utah (Sigler and Sigler 1996). Extirpated in the Rio Grande drainage, New Mexico, and persisting only in Blue Spring in the Pecos drainage.

Impact of Introduction: Rock Bass have severely affected Roanoke bass populations in the upper Roanoke drainage through hybridization and competition (Lee et al. 1980 et seq.; Jenkins and Burkhead 1994). Roanoke bass declined after 1965, when Rock Bass reached high densities (Jenkins and Burkhead 1994). Ambloplites in eastern Oklahoma may represent hybrid forms between A. ariommus and A. rupestris as a result of intensive stocking efforts during the late 1800s and early 1900s (Cashner and Matthews 1988). Jenkins and Burkhead (1994) speculated that introduced Rock Bass may have contributed to the demise of an isolated population of trout-perch Percopsis omiscomaycus in the Potomac River in Virginia and Maryland. Nonnative predators, including Rock Bass, have been shown to reduce the abundance and diversity of native prey species in several Pacific Northwest rivers (Hughes and Herlihy 2012).

Remarks: Although Loyacano (1975) lists this species in the Santee drainage, South Carolina, he did not distinguish it as introduced there. However, his publication only distinguished species not native to the state rather than to certain drainages.

References: (click for full references)

Becker, G.C. 1983. Fishes of Wisconsin. University of Madison Press, Madison, WI.

Beecher, H. A. and R. F. Fernau. 1982. Fishes of Oxbow Lakes of Washington. Northwest Science. 57(2): 125-131.

Cashner, R.C., T.M. Berra, and D.G. Cloutman. 1992. Reidentification of William Bartram's Savannah River Ambloplites, with early evidence for a Tennessee-Savannah faunal exchange. Southeastern Fishes Council Proceedings 26:11-14.

Cashner, R.C., and W.J. Matthews. 1988. Changes in the known Oklahoma fish fauna from 1973 to 1988. Proceedings of the Oklahoma Academy of Science 68:1-7.

Cross, F.B., R.L. Mayden, and J.D. Stewart. 1986. Fishes in the western Mississippi basin (Missouri, Arkansas, and Red Rivers). 363-412 in C.H. Hocutt and E.O. Wiley, eds. The zoogeography of North American freshwater fishes. John Wiley and Sons, New York, NY.

Dill, W.A., and A.J. Cordone. 1997. History and status of introduced fishes in California, 1871-1996. California Department of Fish and Game Fish Bulletin, volume 178.

Etnier, D.A., and W.C. Starnes. 1993. The fishes of Tenneessee. University of Tennessee Press, Knoxville, TN.

Hubbs, C.L., W.I. Follett, and L.J. Dempster. 1979. List of the fishes of California. Occassional Papers of the California Academy of Sciences 133:1-51.

Hughes, R.M. and A.T. Herlihy. 2012. Patterns in catch per unit effort of native prey fish and alien piscivorous fish in 7 Pacific Northwest USA rivers. Fisheries 37(5):201-211.

Jenkins, R.E., and N.M. Burkhead. 1994. Freshwater Fishes of Virginia. American Fisheries Society, Bethesda, MD.

Lee, D.S., C.R. Gilbert, C.H. Hocutt, R.E. Jenkins, D.E. McAllister, and J.R. Stauffer, Jr. 1980. Atlas of North American freshwater fishes. North Carolina State Museum of Natural History, Raleigh, NC.

Loyacano, H.A. 1975. A list of freshwater fishes of South Carolina. Bulletin of the South Carolina Experimental Station 580:1-8.

Miller, R.R. and C.H. Lowe. 1967. Part 2. Fishes of Arizona, p 133-151, In: C.H. Lowe, ed. The Vertebrates of Arizona. University of Arizona Press. Tucson.

Page, L.M. and B.M. Burr. 1991. A field guide to freshwater fishes of North America north of Mexico. The Peterson Guide Series, vol. 42. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, MA.

Rasmussen, J.L. 1998. Aquatic nuisance species of the Mississippi River basin. 60th Midwest Fish and Wildlife Conference, Aquatic Nuisance Species Symposium, Dec. 7, 1998, Cincinnati, OH.

Robison, H.W., and T.M. Buchanan. 1998. Fishes of Arkansas. University of Arkansas Press, Fayetteville, AR.

Rohde, F. C., R. G. Arndt, J. W. Foltz, and J. M. Quattro. 2009. Freshwater Fishes of South Carolina. University of South Carolina Press, Columbia, SC. 430 pp.

Sigler, W.F., and J.W. Sigler. 1996. Fishes of Utah: a natural history. University of Utah Press, Salt Lake City, UT.

Simpson, J., and R. Wallace. 1978. Fishes of Idaho. University of Idaho Press, Moscow, ID.

Starnes, W.C., J. Odenkirk, and M.J. Ashton. 2011. Update and analysis of fish occurrences in the lower Potomac River drainage in the vicinity of Plummers Island, Maryland—Contribution XXXI to the natural history of Plummers Island, Maryland. Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington 124(4):280-309.

Sublette, J.E., M.D. Hatch, and M. Sublette. 1990. The fishes of New Mexico. University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque, NM.

Tilmant, J.T. 1999. Management of nonindigenous aquatic fish in the U.S. National Park System. National Park Service. 50 pp.

Other Resources:
FishBase Summary

Author: Pam Fuller, and Matt Neilson

Revision Date: 5/29/2012

Peer Review Date: 4/1/2016

Citation Information:
Pam Fuller, and Matt Neilson, 2018, Ambloplites rupestris (Rafinesque, 1817): U.S. Geological Survey, Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL,, Revision Date: 5/29/2012, Peer Review Date: 4/1/2016, Access Date: 1/19/2018

This information is preliminary or provisional and is subject to revision. It is being provided to meet the need for timely best science. The information has not received final approval by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and is provided on the condition that neither the USGS nor the U.S. Government shall be held liable for any damages resulting from the authorized or unauthorized use of the information.

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Citation information: U.S. Geological Survey. [2018]. Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database. Gainesville, Florida. Accessed [1/19/2018].

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