Campostoma anomalumCentral stoneroller

Geographic Range

Central stonerollers are found from New York west through the Great Lakes to Wisconsin and Minnesota and south through the Mississippi valley to Mexico (Miller, 1981). Though not listed as threatened in any U.S. state, this species is uncommon in the Great Plains states (Page and Burr, 1991). Page and Burr (1991) recognize three subspecies of central stonerollers. Campostoma anomalum anomalum is found in the Ohio River and upper Atlantic drainages, C. anomalum michauxi is found in the Santee and Savannah River drainages, and C. pullum is found throughout the remainder of the range. (Miller, 1981; Page and Burr, 1991)


Central stoneroller preferred habitat is pools or riffles with gravel or rubble substrate in small to medium-sized streams. They prefer cool, clear water with moderate to fast currents (Sublette et al. 1990). Newly hatched fish school and feed on vegetation in stream margins or backwaters, while juveniles are found in swift flowing water in pools or riffles with algal growth (Edwards, 1997). During winter, Miller (1981) noticed fish congregating in slow pools by large stones or detritus. Edwards (1997) demonstrated that central stonerollers are relatively intolerant to siltation or pollutants which affect algal growth. Although cool streams are preferred, Mundahl (1989) has shown fish able to withstand temperatures of greater than 30.5 degrees Celsius for several days. (Edwards, 1997; Miller, 1981; Sublette, et al., 1990)

  • Aquatic Biomes
  • rivers and streams

Physical Description

With the exception of spawning phase coloration, adult males and females look similar, having a dark, olivaceous dorsal surface fading to a whitish ventral surface. Small, randomly scattered dark spots are often present along the length of the body and the fins are generally colorless. During the spawning season, males develop a slate-gray colored dorsum, a yellowish underside, and small dark spots on the pelvic fins (Goldstein and Simon, 1999). Females remain unchanged, although dusky bars may appear on the dorsal fins. The mouth, which is sub-terminal, horizontal, and lacking barbels, contains a cartilaginous lower jaw which is used for feeding. The mouth contains pharyngeal teeth which are lightly hooked in a 4-4 pattern (Rook, 1999). Maximum size is 287 mm TL (Lennon and Parker, 1960) and the average length is 102 mm. Unlike other cyprinids, stonerollers possess a very long intestinal tract to help aid in the digestion of filamentous algae (Miller, 1981). (Goldstein and Simon, 1999; Lennon and Parker, 1960; Miller, 1981; Rook, 1999)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • sexes colored or patterned differently
  • male more colorful
  • Range length
    287 (high) mm
    11.30 (high) in
  • Average length
    102 mm
    4.02 in


Eggs are adhesive and attached to gravel at the bottom of streams. At water temperatures of 21 to 25 degrees Celsius eggs hatch in 69 to 72 hours (Reed, 1958). Growth of central stoneroller young varies significantly throughout their range, with growth to 51 to 65 mm standard length by age 1, 79 to 104 mm by age 2, and to 226 mm by age 5 (Edwards, 1997). Lennon and Parker (1960) observed an age 6 fish in the Great Smokey Mountains National Park. (Edwards, 1997; Lennon and Parker, 1960; Reed, 1958)


Depending on the stream, fish may migrate upstream, possibly into small headwater streams, to find suitable spawning habitat. Central stonerollers may not migrate if suitable habitat is available in their current environment. Males appear first at spawning sites and begin construction of multiple nests. During the construction of nests, males may work together to construct nests, which are typically 30.5 cm in diameter and approximately 7.5 cm deep. Nests are typically found near riffles, where moderate to high water velocities are found. To construct the bowl-shaped nests, males use a series of picking, digging, and pushing behaviors to remove gravel (Miller 1981). During the nest building process, females typically congregate nearby, but seldom approach males. Miller (1981) observed awaiting females jumping out of the water prior to mating; this behavior is unexplained. Once males have completed nest building, they become territorial and defend their nest(s) by chasing away any male that approaches, sometimes chasing the intruder out of the water onto the stream bank. Females roam the nest site, often darting in and out of many nests. Females stop to lay eggs in nests occupied by larger males. After the spawning period, males and females return to their normal habitat. Neither male nor female remain to guard the nest (Simon, 1999). (Miller, 1981; Simon, 1999)

Depending on the region, central stonerollers spawn from mid-April to early June in the northern parts of their range and from mid-February to mid-July in populations in Texas (Edwards, 1997). According to Miller (1981), water temperature and photoperiod trigger the onset of the spawning season. All spawning activities occurred between the temperatures of 14.5 and 24 degrees Celsius, total cessation occurred when the temperature dropped to 10.5 degrees Celsius. Superimposition of nests is common among central stonerollers and other fish species with similar spawning seasons. Woolcott (1999) observed central stonerollers not only using the nests of bluehead chub (Nocomis leptocephalus), but also interrupting the mating of the bluehead chub, pushing females out of the nest. Central stonerollers were also observed using old rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) nests that were several weeks old. Along with superimposition, central stonerollers have been observed hybridizing with other species, often those with similar spawning seasons, including Chrosomus erythrogaster, Nocomis leptocephalus, Notropis chrysocephasus, Gila pandora, Semotilus atromaculatus, and Rhinichthyes cataractae (Grady and Cashner, 1988). (Edwards, 1997; Grady and Cashner, 1988; Miller, 1981)

It is estimated that mature females contain 200 to 4800 eggs, with females ranging in size from 65 to 130 mm (Schmulbach, 1957). Mature eggs are about 2.0 mm in diameter and approximately 2.4 mm in diameter after the eggs are expelled into water. Unfertilized eggs are a dull gray, while fertilized eggs are bright yellow (Miller, 1981). (Miller, 1981; Schmulback, 1957)

Sexual maturity can be reached in 2 or 3 years throughout the northern geographic range, and typically in 3 to 4 years in the southern United States (Sublette et al. 1990). (Sublette, et al., 1990)

  • Breeding interval
    Central stonerollers typically breed once yearly.
  • Breeding season
    Spawning can occur from winter through summer, depending on region (mid-April through early June in northern regions, mid-February through mid-July in populations in Texas).
  • Range number of offspring
    200 to 4800
  • Range time to hatching
    69 to 72 hours
  • Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    2 to 4 years
  • Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
    2 to 4 years

Neither males nor females care for eggs after spawning. (Simon, 1999)

  • Parental Investment
  • no parental involvement
  • pre-fertilization
    • provisioning


Little is known about the lifespan of Campostoma anomalum, although Lennon and Parker (1960) observed a 6 year old individual in the Great Smokey Mountains National Park. No information is known about specimens in captivity. (Lennon and Parker, 1960)

  • Range lifespan
    Status: wild
    6 (high) years


Little is known about the behavior of central stonerollers, aside from reproduction. Some fish undergo migrations during spawning season to find suitable habitat, whereas some individuals spend an entire year in the same pool. (Miller, 1981)

Home Range

Home range size varies throughout their geographic range, depending on habitat conditions.

Communication and Perception

Little is known about communication or perception in central stonerollers.

Food Habits

Power and Matthews (1983) described central stonerollers as voracious feeders, with a diet largely consisting of filamentous algae. A group of central stonerollers introduced into a stream significantly reduced the algae present in one hour, from 22.0 to 6.3 mg ash free dry weight per square cm. Matthews et al. (1987) observed grazing scars on limestone rocks covered with algal mats as a result of central stoneroller grazing. In several streams in Oklahoma, 95% of their diet consisted of diatoms and filamentous algae. The diet also consists of detritus, diatoms, inorganic material, and blue-green algae. They consume small invertebrates as well (McNeely, 1987). Central stonerollers adapt their diet in the presence of competitors. Fowler and Taber (1985) observed an increase in inorganic material consumed by central stonerollers when largescale stonerollers (Campostoma oligolepsis) were present. Evans-White and Dodds (2003) showed significant seasonal diet changes in central stonerollers in the presence of two species of crayfish, Orconectes nais and Orconectes neglectus. (Evans-White and Dodds, 2003; Fowler and Taber, 1985; Matthews, et al., 1987; McNeely, 1987; Power and Matthews, 1983)

  • Animal Foods
  • insects
  • aquatic crustaceans
  • Plant Foods
  • algae


Primary predators include herons, bitterns, smallmouth bass (Micropterus dolomieu), largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides), and rock bass (Ambloplites rupestris) (Power and Matthews, 1983). (Power and Matthews, 1983)

  • Anti-predator Adaptations
  • cryptic

Ecosystem Roles

Little is known about the role central stonerollers play in the ecosystem. It has been shown that central stonerollers have the ability to over-graze algae, possibly disrupting the primary production in a stream. (Miller, 1981; Power and Matthews, 1983)

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Central stonerollers are of little economic importance to humans. There is a small bait fish market for these fish and most are probably caught and sold as "minnows" or as by-catch, as they are not usually specifically targeted. (Page and Burr, 1991)

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

There are no known adverse effects of central stonerollers on humans, however, it has been suggested that they may have negative effects on popular game-fish species such as rainbow trout, by the superimposition of redds and reduction in primary production by over-grazing on algae. (Miller, 1981)

Conservation Status

Holm and Crossman (2001) list central stonerollers as either secure or apparently secure in all but two states throughout their geographic range. In North Dakota they are listed as vulnerable and in Louisiana they are listed as imperiled. They are not listed as threatened or endangered. (Holm and Crossman, 2001)


Chris Gagnon (author), Northern Michigan University, Rachelle Sterling (editor), Special Projects, Jill Leonard (editor), Northern Michigan University, Tanya Dewey (editor), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.



living in the Nearctic biogeographic province, the northern part of the New World. This includes Greenland, the Canadian Arctic islands, and all of the North American as far south as the highlands of central Mexico.

World Map

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.


uses smells or other chemicals to communicate


having markings, coloration, shapes, or other features that cause an animal to be camouflaged in its natural environment; being difficult to see or otherwise detect.


animals which must use heat acquired from the environment and behavioral adaptations to regulate body temperature

external fertilization

fertilization takes place outside the female's body


union of egg and spermatozoan


mainly lives in water that is not salty.


An animal that eats mainly plants or parts of plants.


having a body temperature that fluctuates with that of the immediate environment; having no mechanism or a poorly developed mechanism for regulating internal body temperature.

indeterminate growth

Animals with indeterminate growth continue to grow throughout their lives.


referring to animal species that have been transported to and established populations in regions outside of their natural range, usually through human action.


offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).


makes seasonal movements between breeding and wintering grounds


having the capacity to move from one place to another.


specialized for swimming

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.


reproduction in which eggs are released by the female; development of offspring occurs outside the mother's body.


the kind of polygamy in which a female pairs with several males, each of which also pairs with several different females.

seasonal breeding

breeding is confined to a particular season


remains in the same area


reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female


uses touch to communicate


that region of the Earth between 23.5 degrees North and 60 degrees North (between the Tropic of Cancer and the Arctic Circle) and between 23.5 degrees South and 60 degrees South (between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic Circle).


uses sight to communicate


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Woolcott, W., M. Sabaj, E. Maurakis. 1999. Spawning behaviors in the bluehead chub, Nocomis leptocephalus, river chub, N. micropogon and central stoneroller, Campostoma anomalum.. Am. Midl. Nat., 144: 187-201.