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bullhead minnow

bullhead minnow (Pimephales vigilax) Photo © Uland Thomas

Features and Behaviors


The bullhead minnow may attain a length of one and one-half to three inches. Its large eyes are located on the upper half of its head. A black spot is present on the front of the dorsal fin. The body appears to be nearly square when looked at head-on. The round snout has a dark, crescent-shaped mark on each side above the upper lip. The back is green. The scales are darkly outlined with pigment, giving them a cross-hatched effect. The scales in front of the dorsal fin are small and tightly packed. A dark stripe is present along the silver-blue side, and a black spot can be seen at the base of the tail fin. The breeding male is dark and has a silver bar behind the gill cover, a black head and projections (tubercles) on the snout.


The bullhead minnow may be found statewide in Illinois. This fish lives in creeks and rivers over a sand, silt or gravel substrate. The bullhead minnow swims in schools on or near the bottom in association with other minnow species. It spawns in late spring and early summer in a cavity dug by the male under an object on the bottom of the water body. The female deposits eggs on the roof of the cavity.

Illinois Range


Kingdom: Animalia​
Phylum: Chordata​
Class: Actinopterygii​
Order: Cypriniformes​
Family: Leuciscidae

Illinois Status: common, native