mountain madtom

 SCIENTIFIC NAME: Noturus eleutherus 

CHARACTERISTICS: This fairly small but robust madtom has a faint dark vertical bar at the caudal fin base. The front edge of the first dorsal saddle usually crosses the back at the dorsal fin origin. An irregularly shaped band on the adipose fin. The caudal fin has two or three crescent shaped bands, and its rear edge is slightly convex. The anal fin contains 12 to 17 rays. The body is light to dark mottled brown and has four light dorsal saddles, while the venter is white to pale yellow. See Jordan (1877a) for original description.

ADULT SIZE: 3 to 5 in (75 to 127 mm)

DISTRIBUTION: Mountain madtoms occur in rivers from Arkansas to western Pennsylvania (Rohde, 1978a; Page and Burr, 1991). Grady and LeGrande (1992) include northern Alabama as part of the species" range. Smith-Vaniz (1968) suspects that mountain madtoms may occur in the Tennessee River drainage, but Boschung (1992) excludes the species from his catalog of Alabama fishes. Our 1993 collection of several individuals in the Elk River just downstream of the Alabama-Tennessee line represents the first record of mountain madtoms in Alabama. Future sampling may expand its known range in state waters.

HABITAT AND BIOLOGY: Apparently a secretive species, the mountain madtom is not regularly encountered, even under ideal conditions. Using a backpack electrofishing unit and seines, we twice sampled one habitat in the Elk River in a three week period. Each of the sampling periods lasted about two hours, but we did not find madtoms until the second visit. All individuals were collected in a swiftly flowing side channel about 20 feet wide and 10 to 20 inches deep. The substrate consisted of 4- to 8-inch pieces of flattened rubble with scattered pieces of larger flat rocks with attached clumps of matted algae. Starnes and Starnes (1985) found a mountain madtom guarding a nest in early July in Tennessee. We assume that spawning occurs in late June or early July in northern Alabama.

ORIGINAL DESCRIPTION: The mountain madtom was described by Jordan in 1877.

Noturus means back tail, referring to fusion of the adipose and caudal fins.

Eleutherus means free, referring to the incomplete fusion of the posterior section of the adipose fin to the body. 


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