Overview

Comprehensive Description

Biology

Occurs in lakes, backwaters and sluggish pools of small to large rivers. Usually found in warm turbid water.
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Distribution

endemic to a single state or province

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National Distribution

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Year-round

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Global Range: Native to main Sacramento-San Joaquin river system, Pajaro-Salinas river drainage, and Clear Lake, California. Apparently introduced into the Russian River drainage, California. Introduced into the Carmel River drainage, California, and the Truckee Meadows area, west-central Nevada. Introduced and abundant in Lahontan Reservoir on Carson River, western Nevada, and possibly elsewhere. Common within native range (abundant in Clear Lake) (Page and Burr 1991).

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Range Description

Native to main Sacramento-San Joaquin river system, Pajaro-Salinas river drainage, and Clear Lake, California. Apparently introduced into the Russian River drainage, California. Introduced into the Carmel River drainage, California, and the Truckee Meadows area, west-central Nevada. Introduced and abundant in Lahontan Reservoir on Carson River, western Nevada, and possibly elsewhere. Common within native range (abundant in Clear Lake) (Page and Burr 1991).
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North America: Sacramento-San Joaquin, Pajaro and Salinas River drainages; Clear Lake in California, USA.
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California, U.S.A., introduced in Nevada, U.S.A.
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Physical Description

Size

Length: 45 cm

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Maximum size: 550 mm TL
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Max. size

55.0 cm TL (male/unsexed; (Ref. 5723)); max. reported age: 5 years (Ref. 72462)
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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat Type: Freshwater

Comments: Typically found in warm, shallow, turbid waters, where current slight or absent, including reservoirs and small to large rivers (Moyle 1976, Page and Burr 1991). In oxbows and similar nutrient rich waters of Delta. High tolerance for low oxygen conditions. Young school near shore, adults in open water away from shore. Spawns in warm, shallow water in areas heavily vegetated with aquatic plants (Moyle 1976).

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Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
Typically found in warm, shallow, turbid waters, where current slight or absent, including reservoirs and small to large rivers (Moyle 1976, Page and Burr 1991). In oxbows and similar nutrient rich waters of Delta. High tolerance for low oxygen conditions. Young school near shore, adults in open water away from shore. Spawns in warm, shallow water in areas heavily vegetated with aquatic plants (Moyle 1976).

Systems
  • Freshwater
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Environment

benthopelagic; freshwater; brackish
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Migration

Non-Migrant: No. All populations of this species make significant seasonal migrations.

Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make local extended movements (generally less than 200 km) at particular times of the year (e.g., to breeding or wintering grounds, to hibernation sites).

Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make annual migrations of over 200 km.

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Trophic Strategy

Comments: Feeds mainly on planktonic algae and zooplankton (e.g., rotifers, cladocerans, copepods, detritus) (Moyle 1976). Appears to be mainly a herbivorous filter-feeder.

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General Ecology

Forms schools.

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Life History and Behavior

Reproduction

Mature by 2nd or 3rd year. Spawning occurs April-July, at water temperatures of 12-24 C.

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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure

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IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
LC
Least Concern

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2013

Assessor/s
NatureServe

Reviewer/s
Smith, K. & Darwall, W.R.T.

Contributor/s

Justification
Listed as Least Concern in view of the large extent of occurrence, large number of subpopulations, large population size, and lack of major threats. Trend over the past 10 years or three generations is uncertain but likely relatively stable, or the species may be declining but not fast enough to qualify for any of the threatened categories under Criterion A (reduction in population size).
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Population

Population
This species is represented by a large number of subpopulations and locations.

Total adult population size is unknown but relatively large.

Trend over the past 10 years or three generations is uncertain but likely relatively stable or slowly declining.

Population Trend
Stable
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Threats

Comments: Localized threats may exist, but on a range-wide scale no major threats are known.

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Major Threats
Localized threats may exist, but on a range-wide scale no major threats are known.
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Not Evaluated
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
Currently, this species is of relatively low conservation concern and does not require significant additional protection or major management, monitoring, or research action.
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Economic Uses

Comments: A commercial fishery centered around the Chinese-American food trade has long existed for this species (McGinnis 1984).

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Wikipedia

Sacramento blackfish

The Sacramento blackfish, Orthodon microlepidotus, is a cyprinid fish of central California. It is the sole member of its genus.

Blackfish are distinctive for their overall dark color (thus the common name). Younger individuals are more silvery, but darken as they age. The scales are unusually small, counting 90-114 along the lateral line. The forehead has a straight-line profile, the eyes are smallish, and the terminal mouth slants upwards. The dorsal fin starts just behind the pelvic fins, and has 9-11 rays, while the anal fin has 8-9 rays, and the pelvic fins 10 rays. The pharyngeal teeth are long, straight, and knife-shaped; the dorsal part of each tooth has a narrow grinding surface. They have been recorded at up to 55 cm in length.

Unlike most North American cyprinids, they feed on zooplankton, planktonic algae, and floating detritus, including rotifers, copepods, cladocerans, diatoms, and the like. Younger fish pick at food items individually, while adults work by pumping large amounts of water through the oral cavity; the food bits are caught in a patch of mucus on the roof of the mouth, where it is secreted by a special organ, and then the fish swallows mucus and food together.

Blackfish are primarily denizens of the warm turbid waters found on the floor of the Central Valley, such as sloughs and oxbow lakes connected to the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers. They are also common in Clear Lake, Pajaro River, Salinas River, the small creeks that feed into San Francisco Bay. A population is present in the Russian River, although they may have been introduced. They also thrive in reservoirs, and have been spread to a number of California reservoirs via the California Aqueduct, and into Nevada via the Lahontan Reservoir (1964) where they have further colonized the Humboldt River drainage.

Sacramento blackfish are of some commercial significance, and are sold live at many Asian fish markets in California.

References

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Names and Taxonomy

Taxonomy

Comments: Monotypic and very distinctive from other endemic minnows. Hybridizes with LAVINIA EXILICAUDA and GILA BICOLOR (Lee et al. 1980).

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