is about 25 species or so of the genus Noturus,
commonly called, madtoms, and they of course belong
to the same family as the bullheads and channel catfish,
the Ictaluridae. The name Noturus means
"back tail" and refers to the fusion of
the adipose and caudal fins (in some species) which
tends to give them a tadpole-like appearance.
is commonly called the 'Stonecat' because of its tendency
to hide beneath flat rocks in fast flowing riffles
and runs among stones on the river bed, where
it resides in moderate to large streams..
I have never seen
any madtom species in the U.K. for sale in the retail
shops, and it is one genus that I would dearly love
to have had, at one time or another ( hint, hint,
to our American aquarist friends). The nearest
I got to them was when the first coldwater darters
where brought into this country from the U.S. about
10 years ago (1989) and I purchased the beautiful
Rainbow Darter, Etheostoma caeruleum. At the
time there were rumours that madtoms had also been
imported, but alas not one to be seen. In these days
there was no restrictions on keeping the more exotic
coldwater species but now echoing that great song
of the past, "Times they are a changing "
The main talking
point of N. flavus and other madtoms is the
venom contained in the dorsal and pectoral spines
of this genus which can give a very nasty sting, it
is a venomous toxin that forms part of the mucus coating
on these spines. In some cases this can last a few
hours with swelling of the infected area. This of
course is a deterrent to large predators to keep well
away and is an excellent defence mechanism. *Jason
Leaman from Pennsylvania talks about a close species
in N.insignis and he states that "if
you get stung by the Stonecat, the best relief right
away ironically is to rub the wound onto the fish
(anywhere you won't get stung again). I have never
had the sting last more than about 30 seconds. Its
really not too painful, however throbs a bit briefly.
I don't know how long it would actually last if I
didn't use the Stonecats own medicinal value of its
This madtom and
others in the same genus have been an ambition to
a lot of U.K. catfish keepers to own (myself included)
but with a few of them being in the endangered list
in their own habitat, and with the U.S. Government
and our own Government restrictions, it looks like
we will just have the pictures to drool over.
There is now
moves afoot by the Government ( U.K.) through the
Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAAF)
to impose restrictions on some coldwater species like
the above mentioned 'Stonecat', due to the dangers
of introduction to native waters and the threat to
its occupants through disease and predation. In other
words you could be paying up to £30 for a license
to keep them. In the future due to the exporters having
to implement new guidelines on matters such as health
records for each fish, they could become quite rare
in the U.K.
As of November 1998 in the U.K.you must have a licence
to keep the above species. This licence is now issued
free, but does take a few months to process. There
has been numerous updates since 1998 so would be better
to check this out. For more information log on to
site and also to get a phone
number if needed.
Lawrence-Great Lakes, Hudson Bay (Red River) and Mississippi
River basins from Quebec to Alberta in Canada, and
south to northern Alabama, northern Mississippi,
and northeastern Oklahoma, USA; Hudson River drainage
in New York, USA.
The body is slender, and compressed
posteriorly; the head and nape are broad and depressed;
the mouth is subterminal; eye small to moderate. The
pectoral spine is straight; the surface usually only
roughened, and lacking prominent serrae. The genital
papilla is conical and a ventral apical notch is present.
The upper jaw projects beyond the lower jaw. The tooth
pad on the upper jaw has a narrow, crescent-shaped
extension on each side. The notch between adipose
and tail fins are closer to tip of tail fin than to
the dorsal fin base. The dorsal fin has 1 spine, (5)6
rays. The upper caudal rays number (27) 29-33(36)
and the lower caudal rays (26)27-31(33). Anal rays
15-18(19); pelvic rays (8)9-10; the pectoral has 1
spine and 9-11 rays.
Back and side gray, olive,
or brown, often with a yellowish cast; postdorsal
spot yellow; fins with a pale yellow cast, blotches
gray to blackish.
Care & Compatibility
This is one of the bigger madtoms
growing to a foot in length in the wild, (smaller
in the aquarium) compared to most of the other species
which grow to between 4 and 5 inches. Not having kept
this species myself the data that I have collated
points to a large tank ( 4' 0") with a gravel
bottom with no heater of course with an external filter
and good water movement. They are very nocturnal so
plenty of hiding places, large rocks or slate would
suffice, they would then venture out at night for
feeding, and would be able to be seen with the tank
lights off and with one small light on in the viewing
As far as I am aware, no madtoms
have been bred in the U.K.but some successes have been
recorded in the U.S. and Canada. Spawnings in the wild
for Noturus flavus takes place in Spring or Summer
with higher temperatures to trigger spawning. According
to Scott and Crossman (1979) the eggs, which number
between 20 and 100 are deposited in a cavity beneath
a rock or other structure. The eggs are amber-yellow
and are very large, ranging between 3.5 and 4mm diameter,
with the whole egg mass enveloped by a gelatinous material.
A female stonecat may produce between 200 and 1,200
eggs per year. They exhibit parental care, with the
male or both sexes guarding the clutch.
In their native habitat they
will feed on aquatic insects and crustaceans. Aquarium
specimens do prefer live feeding including glass shrimp,
whiteworm, earthworms and bloodworms, but you might
be able wean them on to frozen food, shrimp pellets
and carnivore flake.
Meaning "Back Tail" referring to the fusion
of the adipose and caudal fins. flavus: Yellow.
Peter Dr. The Madtoms N.A.C.G.Sept.1997. Knopf, The Audubon Society Field guide
to North America Fishes, Whales & Dolphins, 1986. Fishes of Ohio's StateScenic
Rivers. Leaman, Jason; pers. comm. 18/05/07.