The Nonindigenous Occurrences section of the NAS species profiles has a new structure. The section is now dynamically updated from the NAS database to ensure that it contains the most current and accurate information. Occurrences are summarized in Table 1, alphabetically by state, with years of earliest and most recent observations, and the tally and names of drainages where the species was observed. The table contains hyperlinks to collections tables of specimens based on the states, years, and drainages selected. References to specimens that were not obtained through sighting reports and personal communications are found through the hyperlink in the Table 1 caption or through the individual specimens linked in the collections tables.

Nocomis biguttatus
Nocomis biguttatus
(Hornyhead Chub)
Native Transplant

Copyright Info
Nocomis biguttatus (Kirtland, 1840)

Common name: Hornyhead Chub

Taxonomy: available through www.itis.govITIS logo

Identification: Becker (1983); Robison and Buchanan (1988); Page and Burr (1991).

Size: 26 cm.

Native Range: Mohawk River system, New York, west through Great Lakes and Mississippi River basin to Red River drainage (Hudson Bay basin), Manitoba and North Dakota, south to Ohio River and lower Kentucky River system, Kentucky, but rare in unglaciated areas; south into Ozarks. Isolated populations in Platte and Cheyenne River systems, New Brunswick, Wyoming, and Colorado (Page and Burr 1991).

Native range data for this species provided in part by NatureServe NS logo
Hydrologic Unit Codes (HUCs) Explained
Interactive maps: Point Distribution Maps

Nonindigenous Occurrences:

Table 1. States with nonindigenous occurrences, the earliest and latest observations in each state, and the tally and names of HUCs with observations†. Names and dates are hyperlinked to their relevant specimen records. The list of references for all nonindigenous occurrences of Nocomis biguttatus are found here.

StateFirst ObservedLast ObservedTotal HUCs with observations†HUCs with observations†
KY198619861Lower Kentucky
NY192720117Black; Chenango; Indian; Lower Hudson; Mohawk; Owego-Wappasening; Upper Susquehanna
PA187719852Chenango; Lower Susquehanna
UT198719871Lower Weber

Table last updated 6/23/2024

† Populations may not be currently present.

Means of Introduction: Lachner and Jenkins (1971) stated that collections from Elkhorn Creek of the lower Kentucky River system may represent introduction via bait fishermen or transport through stocking programs and farm pond culture. Smith (1985) suggested that its presence in the Susquehanna and Mohawk rivers of New York may be the result of dispersal through artificial canal systems (Chenango Canal). There are no historical records of Nocomis biguttatus from the Susquehanna drainage (Lee et al. 1980 et seq.). Consequently, Gilbert (personal communication) agrees that the species has been introduced there. However, since it has only appeared in that drainage very recently, Gilbert concluded that its presence is more likely the result of a bait bucket transfer rather than migration through the canal system.

Status: Established in Kentucky and New York in areas outside its native range.

Impact of Introduction: The impacts of this species are currently unknown, as no studies have been done to determine how it has affected ecosystems in the invaded range. The absence of data does not equate to lack of effects. It does, however, mean that research is required to evaluate effects before conclusions can be made.

Remarks: There is uncertainty concerning the native versus nonnative geographic distribution of this species. According to Gilbert (personal communication), it would be virtually impossible to determine whether or not this species was introduced or originally native in the Mohawk system of New York. In their summary table of Kentucky fishes, Burr and Warren (1986) listed this species as "regarded as native, but possibly introduced" in the lower Kentucky River system of Kentucky. In their zoogeographic analysis, Burr and Page (1986) listed this species as "regarded as native, but possibly introduced" in the Kentucky River system. Page and Burr (1991) included the lower Kentucky River system as part of the range of this species. These authors did not comment ion the possibility of introduction. Welsh et al. (2013) added this species to the fauna of West Virgina through the discovery of previously misidentified museum specimens from the Little Kanawha River drainage, and indicated that although it is likely native to the state the possibility of introduction cannot be ruled out. Welsh et al (2013) also suggested that if this species was native to the Little Kanawha River drainage, then this would likely indicate an indigenous status in the Kentucky River drainage.

References: (click for full references)

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

Burr, B.M., and L.M. Page. 1986. Zoogeography of fishes of the lower Ohio-upper Mississippi basin. Pages 287-324 in C.H. Hocutt, and E.O. Wiley, editors. The zoogeography of North American Freshwater Fishes. John Wiley and Sons, New York, NY.

Burr, B.M., and M.L. Warren, Jr. 1986. A distributional atlas of Kentucky fishes. Scientific and Technical Series No. 4. Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission, Frankfort, KY.

Lachner, E.A., and R.E. Jenkins. 1971. Systematics, distribution, and evolution of the Nocomis biguttatus group (family Cyprinidae: Pisces) with a description of a new species from the Ozark Upland. Smithsonian Contributions to Zoology 91:1-28.

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

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

Smith, C. L. 1985. The inland fishes of New York state. New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Albany, NY.

Welsh, S.A., D.A. Cincotta, and W.C. Starnes. 2013. First records of Nocomis biguttatus (Hornyhead Chub) from West Virginia discovered in museum voucher specimens. Northeastern Naturalist 20(4):N19-N22. http://www.bioone.org/doi/full/10.1656/045.020.0412.

Other Resources:
FishBase Summary

Author: Leo Nico, and Matt Neilson

Revision Date: 4/24/2015

Peer Review Date: 4/24/2015

Citation Information:
Leo Nico, and Matt Neilson, 2024, Nocomis biguttatus (Kirtland, 1840): U.S. Geological Survey, Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL, https://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/FactSheet.aspx?SpeciesID=574, Revision Date: 4/24/2015, Peer Review Date: 4/24/2015, Access Date: 6/23/2024

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.


The data represented on this site vary in accuracy, scale, completeness, extent of coverage and origin. It is the user's responsibility to use these data consistent with their intended purpose and within stated limitations. We highly recommend reviewing metadata files prior to interpreting these data.

Citation information: U.S. Geological Survey. [2024]. Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database. Gainesville, Florida. Accessed [6/23/2024].

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For general information and questions about the database, contact Wesley Daniel. For problems and technical issues, contact Matthew Neilson.