Photo by Kenneth S. Boone

SCIENTIFIC NAME: Cottus tallapoosae

CHARACTERISTICS: The Tallapoosa sculpin is a moderate-sized species of Cottus rarely  exceeds 65 mm Standard Length (SL). It usually has an incomplete lateral line, has a flexible spine and four rays in the pelvic fin, and narrow to moderately wide dorsal saddles (Neely et al., 2007). The Tallapoosa sculpin has 6-8 dorsal fin spines (usually 7), 14-18 dorsal fin rays (usually 16), 10-14 anal fin rays (usually 12), 13-16 pectoral fin rays (usually 15), and 29-32 vertebrae (usually 31) (Neely et al., 2007). Pectoral fins are large and extend beyond the anal fin origin when pressed against the body. Pelvic fins extend posteriorly to just anterior to anus. Dorsal fins are separate, only occasionally narrowly joined at the base. The Tallapoosa sculpin maintains dark coloration year round..

ADULT SIZE: Less than 3 in (less than 77 mm SL).

DISTRIBUTION: Tallapoosa sculpin are found in the Tallapoosa River system above the Fall Line in Georgia and Alabama; below Thurlow Dam, it is replaced by C. carolinae inernatus.

HABITAT AND BIOLOGY: Females begin bearing eggs late February-early April, spawning occurs March-April or at about 12°C. The Tallapoosa sculpin builds cavity nests like other members of the genus. Habitat is clean gravel or rocky bottomed streams with moderate to swift current (Neely et al., 2007).

ORIGINAL DESCRIPTION: Neely et al. described the Tallapoosa sculpin in 2007.

Cottus means an old name for a miller’s-thumb.
Tallapoosae is a reference to the Tallapoosa River drainage.