SCIENTIFIC NAME: Moxostoma carinatum

CHARACTERISTICS: Adults of this beautiful species attain a respectable size, weighing as much as 8 to 9 pounds (3.6 to 4.1 kg). The head is massive, its length going about four times into the standard length. The mouth is large, and upper and lower lips are strongly plicate. The dorsal fin usually contains 12 to 14 soft rays, and its free margin is straight or only slightly concave. The lateral line has 42 to 47 scales. Individual scales have dark, crescent-shaped bases. Body color is pale olive on the back and cream on the venter, but the entire fish usually has a brassy orange tinge. Fins are a moderate to bright orangish red, and the anal fin occasionally has bright yellow streaks. See Cope (1870a) for original description and the species account for the silver redhorse, Moxostoma anisurum, for information on distinguishing river from silver redhorses.

ADULT SIZE: 12 to 28 in (300 to 711 mm)

DISTRIBUTION: Our sampling efforts indicate that river redhorses are more widely distributed in Alabama than was previously believed. The Cahaba River is the species’ stronghold. In recent years, however, we have collected and released numerous individuals in other locations, including a downstream range extension in the Alabama River system to below Millers Ferry Lock and Dam. Pierson et al. (1986) extended the upstream range in the Tallapoosa River system to below Harris Dam. We collected river redhorses at 10 new stations in the Tennessee drainage in 1992 and 1993. A small population exists in the Conecuh River and in Murder Creek in Escambia County. Lack of lower Tombigbee River records may be due to insufficient sampling.

HABITAT AND BIOLOGY: River redhorses occur in medium-sized and large streams having moderate to swift currents over sand, gravel, and cobble substrates. We have also collected them in rivers and reservoirs where currents are slow and substrates consist mainly of sand and silt. The Asian clam Corbicula and aquatic insect larvae are primary food items. River redhorses spawn in the Cahaba River in April when water temperatures reach 71º to 76º F (21º to 24.4º C) (Hackney et al. 1968). We observed spawning in the lower Coosa River in late April 1987 and collected tuberculate males and females running eggs below Millers Ferry Lock and Dam in April 1995.

ORIGINAL DESCRIPTION: Cope described the river redhorse in 1870.

Moxostoma means mouth to suck.
Carinatum means keel.

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