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Stonecat

Stonecat
stonecat madtom

SCIENTIFIC NAME: Noturus flavus

CHARACTERISTICS: The stonecat is the only mandtom in Alabama that posesses an extension reaching backward from each band of premaxilary teeth. Its flattened body allows it to wriggle beneath large flat, rocks to hide. Anal fin rays number from 15 to 18. The upper jaw protrudes in front of the lower jaw. The back is light brown, the venter usually white. Vertical fins are generally dark at their base and light at their edges. Stonecats can be distinguished from slender madtoms, Noturus exilis, by the lack of well-developed teeth on the rear edge of their pectoral spines and the clear or pale margins on their dorsal, caudal, and anal fins. Page and Burr (1991) use pigment patterns on the nape and back to distinguish two forms of stonecats. An undescribed form in the Cumberland River has two light bars on the nape; all other members possess a light circular spot. Interestingly, the stonecats we collected in Alabama had a color pattern different from either form noted by Page and Burr, perhaps indicating the presence of yet another undescribed species in Alabama. See Rafinesque (1818c) for original description.

ADULT SIZE: 6 to 12 in (152 to 300 mm)

DISTRIBUTION: Gilbert (1891) reports stonecats in Shoal Creek, and Jandebeur (1972) collected one specimen from the Elk River in Tennessee. In 1993 we collected stonecats at two stations in the Elk River and in Goose Shoals on Shoal Creek. The largest population was in Goose Shoals, where we occasionally obtained two or three specimens, some reaching 6 to 9 inches, under a single rock. 

HABITAT AND BIOLOGY: During the day, stonecats hide under large slabs of bedrock in riffles and rapids of medium-sized or large streams. Other preferred substrates include rubble, gravel, and scattered patches of aquatic vegetation. At night, stonecats emerge to feed on the many aquatic insects and crayfishes that also occupy these habitats. Walsh and Burr (1984) report spawning at 77 degrees Fahrenheit (25 degrees Celsius) in Illinois and Missouri. Etnier and Starnes (1993) indicate that spawning in Tennessee occurs from April through July. Eggs deposited under flat rocks are guarded by males. Life span is about five years.

ORIGINAL DESCRIPTION: The stonecat was described by Rafinesque in 1818.

ETYMOLOGY:
Noturnus means back tail referring to fusion of the adipose and caudal fins.
Flavus means yellow.  

The copyrighted information above is from Fishes of Alabama and the Mobile Basin.

Note: In Alabama, it is illegal to stock or move any fish, mussel, snail or crayfish to any public water without a permit.


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