No, we are not talking about that Hitch.
We are talking about this hitch:
The hitch (Lavinia exilicauda) is one of many species in Family Cyprinidae — carps, minnows and relatives. Growing to a little over 1 foot (36 cm) in length, the hitch is often described as very large minnow.
The name “minnow” really does cyprinids much injustice; in the English language, “minnow” carries such a connotation of blandness and impotence. Cyprinidae is in fact an incredibly diverse family of fishes, with more than 2,000 species found in Africa, Asia, Europe and North America, ranging in size from the micro glassfish (Danionella translucida), which doesn’t get bigger than an M&M chocolate — to the giant barb (Catlocarpio siamensis), rumored to reach 9 feet (3 meters). Large cyprinids can be voracious predators, and small ones… well, they might nibble dead skin off your feet, as we learned when we visited Garra cambodigensis. Cyprinids also have given humanity two true classics of ornamental fishkeeping: the goldfish (Carassius auratus) and the carp (Cyprinus carpio) .
So the hitch is in some quality company. And its reproductive lifestyle is no less exciting.
Spawning is a mass affair accompanied by vigorous splashing. A ripe female is closely followed by 1 to 5 males, who apparently fertilize eggs immediately after their release. There is no territoriality.
No fighting over dates. Just a whole lot of lovin’:
Hitch are native to the tributaries of the Sacramento and San Joaquin river basins in California, United States, with distinct subspecies in certain areas.
One subspecies, the Clear Lake hitch (Lavinia exilicauda chi), will be evaluated for potential listing as a protected species by the State of California. A study published recently considered the Clear Lake hitch one of 20 native California freshwater fishes most vulnerable to impacts from future climate warming (Moyle et al. 2013).
FishBase Page: http://www.fishbase.org/summary/2796
Moyle, PB, JD Kiernan, PK Crain, RM Quiñones. 2013. Climate change vulnerability of native and alien freshwater fishes of California: a systematic assessment approach. PLoS ONE 8(5): e63883. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0063883
Full disclosure: I was once a pupil in Peter Moyle‘s introductory ichthyology course at University of California, Davis. Also, a coauthor on the climate change study, Joseph Kiernan, is a close friend and mentor. I gladly promote their expertise here.
– Ben Young Landis