SCIENTIFIC NAME: Moxostoma erythrurum

CHARACTERISTICS: This terete redhorse has a large head, with a length approximately 24 percent of the standard length. Upper and lower lips are plicate, and the rear edges of the lower lip meet in either a U or a V shape. The dorsal fin contains 12 or 13 soft rays, and its free margin is concave. The pelvic fin has eight or nine rays. The lateral line has 39 to 42 scales. The back varies from olive to light brown, the sides frequently have a dark lateral stripe, and the venter is cream. Fins are generally light gray to clear but may be tinged with yellow or orange during the spawning season. See Rafinesque (1818b) for original description.

ADULT SIZE: 12 to 20 in (300 to 508 mm). Slightly larger individuals are found in the Tennessee River proper.

DISTRIBUTION: The golden redhorse has been collected in all river systems of Alabama’s Mobile basin, although its numbers diminish in the southern half of the state. Mettee et al. (1987) report a disjunct population of golden redhorses in Okatuppa Creek, a tributary of the lower Tombigbee drainage; the population was discovered there during a survey of streams that drain the Gilbertown oil field.

HABITAT AND BIOLOGY: Golden redhorses inhabit almost all aquatic environments in Alabama, including rivers, reservoirs, and small and large streams. In the Tennessee River drainage, they frequently occur with spotted suckers and black, silver, shorthead, and river redhorses. Like other members of this genus, golden redhorses migrate into moderate or small streams to spawn in April and early May, and they leave the area afterward. Etnier and Starnes (1993) report that golden redhorses generally spawn later than do black redhorses, depending on their latitude. As the young grow into juveniles, they progressively move downstream. Carlander (1969) reports that the golden redhorse’s diet consists mainly of mayflies, caddisflies, and midge larvae. Age and growth data presented by Carlander (1969) suggest that in more northern states golden redhorses live from nine to 11 years. Data for populations in Alabama are not available.

ORIGINAL DESCRIPTION: Rafinesque described the golden redhorse in 1818.

Moxostoma means mouth to suck.
Erythrurum means red-tailed.

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