Central Stoneroller

Campostoma anomalum (syn. C. pullum)


Central stoneroller male in spawning colors, side view photo with black background
Central stoneroller, Campostoma anomalum, male in spawning coloration
Lance Merry

Cyprinidae (minnows) in the order Cypriniformes (carps, minnows, and loaches)


The central stoneroller is a brownish minnow with small eyes. The lower jaw has a flat, shelflike extension used to scrape algae from rocks. The closely related largescale stoneroller is similar in appearance and ecology, but it is limited to the Ozarks.


Total length: 3 to 6 1/2 inches; maximum about 8 inches.

Habitat and conservation

Occurs in small- to medium-sized streams with moderate to high gradients and rocky or bedrock substrates in or near riffles. This species is most active during the daytime. Individuals are commonly seen “flashing” on the stream bottom in large schools as they feed. These fish leap clear of the water at frequent intervals. When large schools are present, they seem to surface in this manner almost continuously.


Herbivorous, feeding on algae and bottom ooze scraped from rocks.

image of Central Stoneroller distribution map
Distribution in Missouri

Common almost statewide, except the Bootheel lowlands and the extreme northwestern part of the state.


One of the most abundant fishes in the Ozarks and adjacent parts of the Prairie Region. Generally outnumbered by the largescale stoneroller in large to medium-sized Ozark streams but often is the only stoneroller in small headwater creeks.

Life cycle

Early-spring spawners, they build shallow pit nests in small gravel from mid-March to late May. This fish lives 3 to 4 years.

Human connections

This minnow is an excellent bait for bass and other game fish, but it is seldom propagated in ponds because it requires flowing water for spawning.

Ecosystem connections

An important forage fish in Ozark streams. Because of its herbivorous habit, it does not compete for food with game fishes and is efficient in converting the basic productivity of the stream into a form that can be used by the smallmouth bass and other desirable stream fishes.