The Bonytail Chub (Gila elegans) is a species of freshwater fish native to certain areas of Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada and Utah in the United States. Bonytail chub prefer backwaters with rocky or muddy bottoms and flowing pools, although they have been reported in swiftly moving water. They are mostly restricted to rocky canyons today, but were historically abundant in the wide downstream sections of rivers. It is the rarest of the endemic big-river fishes of the Colorado River. It was once found in many states, but has experienced the most abrupt decline of any long-lived fishes of the Colorado River system, and is considered to be a functionally extinct species.
The bonytail chub can grow to over 2 feet long. Like many other
desert fishes, its coloring tends to be darker above and lighter below, serving as a camouflage. Breeding males have red fin bases. They have a streamlined body and a terminal mouth.
Young bonytail chubs typically eat aquatic plants, while adults feed mostly on small fish, algae, plant debris, and terrestrial insects. Little is known about their reproductive habits, but they are thought to spawn in mid-summer and perhaps hybridize with both Colorado and humpback chubs.
It was added to the US list of endangered species in 1980. Captive bred specimens have been re-introduced to parts of its native range.