Gila Chub - Illustration by George Maleski


Gila Chub

Gila intermedia


A moderately chunky, dark colored minnow which can reach lengths of up to ten inches; females are normally larger than males with the latter rarely larger than six inches. Breeding males will have red or orange on the belly and sides, with yellow on the cheeks, lips, and the bottoms of paired fins on larger fish.1

Gila chub are normally found in the headwaters of smaller streams cienegas, springs and marshes of the Gila River basin.2 They utilize diverse habitats based on the time of year and their age. Adults have been collected from deep pools with heavy vegetation along the margins and undercut banks. Young Gila chub have been collected from riffles, pools and undercut banks. In larger stream systems, they utilize heavily vegetated backwaters for cover and feeding.

The Gila chub is historically found in headwater streams of the Gila River drainage in Arizona, New Mexico and likely in the San Pedro and Santa Cruz River systems in Sonora, Mexico. The Gila chub is currently thought to be extirpated from New Mexico.2

Gila chub were commonly found in association with Gila topminnow, desert and sonora suckers, and longfin and speckled dace.

Gila chub probably mature in their second to third year. Reproduction primarily occurs in the late spring and into summer. Spawning may occur over beds of submerged, aquatic vegetation. Actively breeding fish become fire-red along surfaces near the belly and the eyes become yellow to yellow-orange.1

Gila chub are omnivorous, preferring to eat terrestrial and aquatic insects. At larger sizes they may eat other fish (they have been known to consume speckled dace and other small fish). Larger adults feed during the evening and early morning hours. Juveniles will feed throughout the day, mostly on insects and algae.

Since 1997, the Gila chub has been a candidate for listing under the Endangered Species Act by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.3 In August 2002, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services released a proposed rule listing the Gila chub as endangered.

Gila Chub in Pima County:
The Gila chub is presently known from the following drainages: Cienega Creek, Sabino Canyon, and Redfield Canyon. The only population considered secure and stable occurs in Cienega Creek.



1. Minckley, W. L. 1973. Fishes of Arizona. Arizona Game and Fish Department, Phoenix. Pp. 186-192

2. Arizona Game and Fish Department. Unpublished Abstract, Heritage Data Management System (HDMS). April 1999

3. USDI, Fish and Wildlife Service. 1998. Endangered and threatened species of Arizona. pp. 49-50


back to Threatened & Endangered Fact Sheets

back to Priority Vulnerable Species Fact Sheets