Central Stoneroller

Central stoneroller male in spawning colors, side view photo with black background
Scientific Name
Campostoma anomalum (syn. C. pullum)
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.

Where To Find
image of Central Stoneroller distribution map

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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Similar Species
About Fishes in Missouri
Missouri has more than 200 kinds of fish, more than are found in most neighboring states. Fishes live in water, breathe with gills, and have fins instead of legs. Most are covered with scales. Most fish in Missouri “look” like fish and could never be confused with anything else. True, lampreys and eels have snakelike bodies — but they also have fins and smooth, slimy skin, which snakes do not.