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Shorthead

SHORTHEAD REDHORSE

SCIENTIFIC NAME: Moxostoma macrolepidotum

Characteristics: This slender redhorse has a short head, its length ranging form 18 to 23 percent of standard length. The lateral line is complete, with 38 to 45 scales. The dorsal fin usually has 12 rays, and its free margin is falcate. Lips on the small mouth are sub-plicate. In color, this beautiful fish strongly resembles the river redhorse, Moxostoma carinatum. The back is olive green, the venter is cream or white, and the entire body usually has a pale yellowish or brassy gold tinge. The river redhorse can be distinguished by its larger head (21 to 26 percent of standard length) and the straight or slightly convex outer margin of its dorsal fin. Most of the scales on the shorthead redhorse’s body have reflective, crescent-shaped black spots near their bases. The dorsal and caudal fins are moderate to bright orange. Fins on the ventral side of the body are light to bright lemon yellow. See Lesueur (1817b) for original description. Jenkins (1970) recognizes three subspecies; one of them, M. macrolepidotum breviceps, occurs in the Ohio, Cumberland, and Tennessee river drainages.

 ADULT SIZE: 16 to 18 in (406 to 460 mm)

DISTRIBUTION: The southern bend of the Tennessee River drainage is the southern limit of this species’ range. Most locations cited in Jenkins (1980b) and Boschung (1992) were collected by Tennessee Valley Authority biologists in 1936 and 1938. From 1991 to 1993, we collected this species at 12 stations in the Tennessee River drainage. New locations include Panther, Bear, Cypress, and Shoal creeks and the Elk and Paint Rock rivers.

HABITAT AND BIOLOGY: Shorthead redhorses occur along the margins of the Tennessee River proper and in adjacent impounded creek mouths, but they are most abundant in flowing sections of the Paint Rock, Elk, and Flint rivers and just downstream of large shoals in Cypress and Shoal creeks—areas with gravel and bedrock substrates and moderate to swift currents. Burr and Morris (1977) report spawning, which usually involves a female and two males, in May in Illinois. Our collections of gravid, brightly colored adults indicate that spawning in Alabama occurs from late April into May. Etnier and Starnes (1993) report that adults in Tennessee become sexually mature at four years and that the life span can reach eight years.

ORIGINAL DESCRIPTION: Lesueur described the shorthead redhorse in 1817.

ETYMOLOGY:
Moxostoma means mouth to suck.
Macrolepidotum means large-scaled.

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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