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Cutlips Minnow Exoglossum maxillingua


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Cutlips Minnow
credit: Isaac Read Masters/CCSA

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Family: Cyprinidae, Carps and Minnows view all from this family

Description The Cutlips Minnow (Exoglossum maxillingua) is an olive-green medium-sized minnow (average 6 inches) with a distinguishing lower jaw. Isolated from all other minnows by its three-lobed lower jaw with the middle lobe sticking out like a tongue. The range of this species is from the St. Lawrence and Lake Ontario south into Virginia. It is found in running streams and seems to prefer clear, stony pools but not rapids. The distinctive mouth of the cutlips lets it feed on minuscule shellfish which it scrapes from rocks. Although mollusks appear to be its primary food, it also eats insect larvae and diatoms. A nest builder, the cutlips male constructs a nest of stone, some of which are up to 18 inches across. Spawning happens late in spring when the male attempts to crowd females over its nest. The cutlips is not a popular bait species due to its softened coloration but it takes a hook without much difficulty and is favored in some areas as a choice panfish.

Dimensions Up to 5" (12.5 cm).

Habitat Rivers & streams.

Range New England, Mid-Atlantic, Southeast, Eastern Canada.