Common Name

Scientific Name

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Photo by Krissy Wilson
Photo Courtesy of Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

The leatherside chub, Gila copei, is a small minnow native to streams and rivers of the southeastern portion of the Bonneville Basin. It was once common throughout its native range, but presently is listed as a state sensitive species due to substantial decreases in population levels. Leatherside chub live up to 8 years, and adults reach a maximum length of 150 mm. The body is bluish above and silvery below, and males have bright orange-red coloration on the axils of the paired fins. The skin has a leathery texture with very small scales (75-85 in the lateral line) and the anal and dorsal fins have 8 fin rays, which distinguish this species from other Utah minnows.

Conservation measures to insure the continued persistence of this small fish include regulations that prohibit collection and increased funding for research.

Recent genetic studies suggest that what has been considered the leatherside chub may actually be two distinct species, the northern leatherside chub, Lepidomeda copei, and the southern leatherside chub, Lepidomeda aliciae.


  • Biotics Database. 2005. Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, NatureServe, and the network of Natural Heritage Programs and Conservation Data Centers.

  • Sigler, W. F. and J. W. Sigler. 1996. Fishes of Utah[:] a natural history. University of Utah Press. Salt Lake City. 375 pp.

  • Johnson, J. B., T. E. Dowling, and M. C. Belk. 2004. Neglected taxonomy of rare desert fishes: congruent evidence for two species of leatherside chub. Systematic Biology 53:841-855.