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Colorado Pikeminnow.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Cypriniformes
Family: Cyprinidae
Subfamily: Leuciscinae
Genus: Ptychocheilus
Agassiz, 1855

See text

Squawfish or pikeminnows are cyprinid fish of the genus Ptychocheilus consisting of four species native to western North America. Voracious predators, they are considered an "undesirable" species in many waters. This is largely due to the species' perceived tendency to prey upon small trout and salmon. First known in western science by the common name Columbia River Dace, the four species all became lumped under the offensive name "squawfish." In 1999, the American Fisheries Society adopted "pikeminnow" as the name it recommends, because Native Americans considered "squawfish" offensive.[1]

The Colorado pikeminnow, P. lucius, is the largest member of the genus, averaging 4 to 9 pounds (2 to 4 kg) in adult fish with occasional specimens up to 25 pounds (11 kg). There are historical and anecdotal reports of Colorado pikeminnows nearing 6 feet (1.8 m) in length and 80 pounds (36 kg) in weight. The species is near extinction in its native Colorado River basin habitat, due to extensive habitat destruction.



  1. ^ Nelson, J.S., E.J. Crossman, H. Espinosa-Pérez, L.T. Findley, C.R. Gilbert, R.N. Lea, and J.D. Williams. 2004. Common and scientific names of fishes from the United States, Canada, and Mexico. American Fisheries Society, Special Publication 29, Bethesda, Maryland. 386 p.