Species At Risk

Silver Chub

(Macrhybopsis storeriana)


Silver Chub
Silver Chub occurrences map


The Silver Chub is a relatively large minnow that can grow up to 23 centimetres long. It has a stout and moderately thick body with silver sides, a greyish-green back and silver-white belly. The bottom of the tail is lined in white. At the corners of its mouth there are tiny, fleshy "whiskers" called barbels.

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The distribution of the Silver Chub includes the Mississippi drainage area from the Great Lakes south to the Gulf coast, east to the foothills of the Appalachians and as far west as the Great Plains. In Ontario, it is found in Lake Erie and Lake St. Clair. It is also found in Manitoba in the Red River and lower Assiniboine River.


Throughout most of its North American range, Silver Chub prefers medium to large rivers with substantial current and silt, sand or gravel bottoms, but in Ontario it is only found in the Great Lakes. It is usually found in depths between seven and 12 metres, and is believed to spawn in May and June in open water areas. It feeds on aquatic insect larvae, crustaceans and molluscs, including Zebra Mussels.


Threats to the Silver Chub may include habitat degradation, changes in water temperature, sediment and nutrient loading, exotic species, changes to food supply and predators.

The Silver Chub was considered common in Lake Erie until the 1950s. Its decline there coincided with a reduction in prey, such as mayfly nymphs. In the 1950s and 1960s, excessive runoff of nutrients from urban and farmland pollution resulted in eutrophication of lakes, likely causing the mayfly decline. Eutrophication is the process by which a body of water becomes rich in dissolved nutrients from fertilizers or sewage. This encourages the growth and decomposition of plant life, which results in oxygen-depletion and decreased water quality.


The Silver Chub is protected under Ontario's Endangered Species Act and the federal Species at Risk Act.

The species and/or its habitat are also protected under other legislation, such as the federal Fisheries Act and the Ontario Water Resources Act.

What You Can Do to Help the Silver Chub

  • The Ministry of Natural Resources tracks species at risk such as the Silver Chub. You can use a handy online form to report your sightings to the Natural Heritage Information Centre. Photographs with specific locations or mapping coordinates are always helpful. nhic.mnr.gov.on.ca
  • Report any illegal activity related to plants and wildlife to 1-877-TIPS-MNR (847-7667).
  • Private land owners have a very important role to play in species at risk recovery.You may be eligible for stewardship programs that support the protection and recovery of species at risk and their habitats.
  • Farmers and land owners can help improve fish habitat and keep Ontario’s water safe and clean by maintaining natural vegetation next to creeks and rivers, and keeping pollution and soil from washing into Ontario’s streams and rivers. For more information about programs and funding assistance for eligible land owners visit the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association website at www.ontariosoilcrop.org/en/programs/species_at_risk.htm
  • Volunteer with your local nature club or provincial park to participate in surveys or stewardship work focused on species at risk.

Did you know?

Silver Chub may be one species actually benefiting from the invasion of Zebra Mussels. That’s because Zebra Mussels have improved water clarity in Lake Erie, which may have improved habitat for the Silver Chub’s main food source – mayfly nymphs. In addition, Silver Chub have been shown to feed on Zebra Mussels.

Did you know?

Pollution abatement in and around Lake Erie has improved water quality dramatically which has helped improve habitat conditions for the Silver Chub.

The Endangered Species Act

Contact your local ministry office

Often the best source of local information on species at risk is your nearest ministry office. Call with your questions or concerns.