Peamouth

Common name

Peamouth

Scientific name

Mylocheilus caurinus 

Fish family

Cyprinidae 

Also known as

northwest dace, peamouth chub, redmouth sucker

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What they look like

Peamouth are dark brown to green on their backs with two dark strips on their sides. The top stripe goes from the head to the tail, but the bottom stripe stops about half way to the tail. Their bellies are silver yellow and their fins are yellow to brown in color. Peamouth are long, thin fish with a large eye and long round shout. The male has red on his side, belly, mouth and gill when mature. Breeding fish have red mid-side stripe. They have a small barbel , reddish color at each corner of their mouth. Its common name probably refers to its small mouth.

One of the best ways to determine the difference between a peamouth and a pikeminnow is to compare where the corner of the mouth ends. On a pikeminnow the corner of the mouth comes back to the eye, while on the peamouth, the corner of the mouth is well before the eye. The barbels at the corner of the peamouth's mouth are missing on the pikeminnow, as are the dark bars on the side.

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Where they live

The peamouth is a western minnow native to the Columbia River system and coastal drainages, this species is native to the Snake River and tributaries below Shoshone Falls, and the Coeur d'Alene, Pend Oreille, and Kootenai River systems. It prefers lakes and slow-moving portions of streams, and small and medium rivers. Peamouth will school where aquatic vegetation is abundant. They can live in brackish (slightly salty) waters for a limited time.

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What they eat

Peamouth are schooling fish that feed mainly on aquatic insects and its larvae and some terrestrial insects, but also on planktonic crustaceans, mollusks, and small fishes. They are preyed upon by fish-eating birds and mammals.

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Life cycle

Peamouth typically attains a size of 9 to 12 inches in length, but can get quite large, up to 14 inches. Unfortunately, at this size they are not likely to be preyed upon and so do not contribute to the food base of predatory sport fishes.

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Spawning

Peamouth are sexually mature in 3 (mostly males) to 4 years old and spawning occurs from May - June at water temperatures of 54-64 °F. They spawn in shallow water of streams and along lake shores over a gravel or rubble bottom. The eggs are broadcast on the bottom where they adhere to the substrate. From 5,000 to over 30,000 eggs are produced per female, depending on age and size. Spawning fish come close to shore in groups of 50 to 400. Females are crowded by 2 or more males into 1 or 2 inches of water by the shoreline and eggs and sperms are released. The newly hatched fish stay in schools in shallow water until late summer and then move into deeper waters, but tend to stay in small schools.

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State Record

1 lb. 0.48 oz. caught in the Snake River, Whitman County by angler Eric Weitze on May 29, 2005

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