Skip to main content


quillback (Carpiodes cyprinus) Photo © Uland Thomas

Features and Behaviors


The quillback may attain a length of 12 to 17 inches. It has a deep body and a small, cone-shaped head. The upper jaw does not reach behind the front of the eye. The back is green or gray while the sides are silver. The paired fins are white or orange, and the remaining fins are gray. The breeding male has projections (tubercles) over most of his body and most of his fins. The quillback lives for about 10 years.


The quillback may be found statewide in Illinois. This fish swims in schools. It spawns in spring and does go on spawning migrations. It eats larval insects, snails, clams and algae.

Illinois Range


Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Cypriniformes
Family: Catostomidae

Illinois Status: common, native