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 leptocephalus
Nocomis leptocephalus
(Bluehead Chub)
Native Transplant

Copyright Info
Nocomis leptocephalus (Girard, 1856)

Common name: Bluehead Chub

Taxonomy: available through www.itis.govITIS logo

Identification: Page and Burr (1991); Jenkins and Burkhead (1994).

Size: 26 cm.

Native Range: Atlantic and Gulf Slope drainages from Shenandoah River, Virginia, to Pearl River, Mississippi; mostly above Fall Line except in Alabama and Mississippi. Lower tributaries of Mississippi River, Mississippi and Louisiana; upper New River drainage, West Virginia, Virginia, and North Carolina (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 leptocephalus are found here.

StateFirst ObservedLast ObservedTotal HUCs with observations†HUCs with observations†
NC196220125Nolichucky; Tuckasegee; Upper French Broad; Upper Little Tennessee; Upper Tennessee
VA1945199710Lower Chesapeake Bay; Lower Potomac; Middle New; North Fork Shenandoah; Potomac; Rapidan-Upper Rappahannock; South Branch Potomac; South Fork Shenandoah; Upper Clinch, Tennessee, Virginia; Upper James

Table last updated 4/25/2024

† Populations may not be currently present.

Means of Introduction: All or most records are likely the result of bait bucket releases. In Virginia, the Bluehead Chub was probably introduced into the upper Rapidan around 1947 and then spread downstream to the Rappahannock. Straight Creek is a favored fishing area and was likely populated by a bait bucket release. Jenkins and Burkhead (1994) considered the Shenandoah population to be probably native; however, others have considered it to be introduced (Jenkins et al. 1972, and others). The first record for the Potomac drainage is from 1956, from the South Fork Shenandoah. The records from Straight Creek are from 1975. The first record from the Rappahannock drainage is from 1947, from the Upper Rapidan. The chub then spread to the lower part of the drainage by 1972, and to the upper part by 1974. It reached the extreme upper tributaries of the Rappahannock in 1982 (Jenkins and Burkhead 1994). Based on collections during the past several decades (Gilbert 1992), the species may have been introduced into the Escambia River system in Alabama and subsequently spread downstream into Florida.

Status: Established in Alabama, Florida, North Carolina, and Virginia.

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 some uncertainty concerning the native versus nonnative geographic distributions of this species. Hocutt et al. (1986) listed it as "regarded as introduced, but possibly native" for the Potomac. Menhinick (1991) listed it as "probably introduced" into the Tennessee River system of North Carolina. Burr (1991) stated that it was introduced into the Little Tennessee River system of North Carolina. Swift et al. (1986) listed it as "native freshwater species, possibly introduced" for the Escambia, a river in Alabama and Florida. Gilbert (1992) noted that Nocomis leptocephalus bellicus and several other minnow species (i.e., Luxilus chrysocephalus isolepis and Notropis baileyi) were not found in earlier collections taken from the Escambia River. Consequently, Gilbert presumed that these species had been introduced into that river system. In his unpublished checklist of Florida freshwater fishes, Gilbert indicated that this species was introduced and successfully established in the Escambia River drainage. In their summary table on Alabama fishes, Mettee et al. (1996) listed this species as native to the Conecuh (Escambia) River system.

References: (click for full references)

Shute, P.W. and D.A. Etnier. 2000. Southeastern fishes council regional reports - 2000. Region III - North-Central.

Other Resources:
FishBase Summary

Author: Leo Nico, and Pam Fuller

Revision Date: 5/6/2019

Peer Review Date: 9/5/2014

Citation Information:
Leo Nico, and Pam Fuller, 2024, Nocomis leptocephalus (Girard, 1856): U.S. Geological Survey, Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL, https://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/factsheet.aspx?SpeciesID=575, Revision Date: 5/6/2019, Peer Review Date: 9/5/2014, Access Date: 4/25/2024

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 [4/25/2024].

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