t is nearly two years now since I last featured
any catfish from the North American continent (Ictalurus
punctatus; August 2001) and having
received a request for thie above species I thought the time was
right to go back to this continent and undertake an investigation
into one of the smallest of the Madtom cats, the "Tadpole
Madtom"; Noturus gyrinus.
There is quite an abundance of information
sheets and articles on this species on the internet but
I do not apologize for adding to this total as we can never
get enough (factual) information on any given catfish species
as we strive to glean as much knowledge as we can on these fascinating
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.
The "Tadpole Madtom" is one of the smallest Madtoms
apart from the rarest; Noturus stanauli, is abundant
in strong riffles of large creeks and rivers, especially in
areas having boulders or large flat rocks. It is one of the
most widespread species in the genus and can be found from South
West Quebec and South East Manitoba in Canada down to Southern
Florida and Texas. It is absent in the Appalachian Mountains.
You must be very aware of the poison gland in this genus which
resides in the base of the dorsal and pectoral fins as it can
give you a very sore hand, so you will have to be careful if catching
or moving these fish.
Noturus gyrinus can be found in a variation of body colorations
and body shape. Taylor (1969:48-49) believed the variation in
form is a function of nutrition during growth.
There are of course a few aquarists here in the U.K. who are coldwater
cat enthusiasts but they are getting few and far between due to
to the import restrictions on this family of cats.
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.
Update: 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. For more information
log on to the DEFRA
It is a pity as I would have loved to have tried out the "madtoms"
as something different here in the U.K. but you can see the problem
it may cause if they are released into our waters by uncaring
"aquarists" and the damage to our already fragile ecosystem.
Tadpole shaped, robust anteriorly, strongly
compressed posteriorly. Head deep, rounded above; eye small; mouth
terminal; 4 pairs of barbels. Pectoral fin spine lacks serrations,
has poison gland at base. Adipose fin continues with broad rounded
Reddish, tan or dark brown above with one
or two dark axial stripes along each side. Belly yellowish; median
In common with most of this genus they make
good inhabitants of a cold (cool) water aquarium and can be mixed
with other cool water species such as shiners, minnows and darters.
They like to have place to call home in the aquarium so furnish
it with rocks or driftwood and flat stones so they can hide during
the day. You can have either sand or a mixed fine gravel and an
internal power filter to gently push the water around the tank,
this will imitate the conditions encountered in the wild for this
There has been a few spawning's in the aquarium,
Warming the water up will possibly induce a spawning with a clutch
of eggs laid under a flat surface or pipework. They can be left
with the parents. The life expectancy is three to four years and
they will be sexually mature in two years.
They like most meaty food, such as cut-up
earth worms, frozen blood worm and prawns. They will also take
tablet and pellet foods. A varied diet will keep them in optimum
Meaning "Back Tail" referring to the fusion of
the adipose and caudal fins
gyrinus: means tadpole.
Top Picture: Konrad
P. Schmidt from the The Native Fish Conservancy at www.nativefish.org
Tadpole Madtom, Noturus gyrinus
The Audubon Society Field guide to North America Fishes,
Whales & Dolphins, 1986.
Smith W.Philip; The Fishes of Illinois; University
of Illinois Press.
Bottom Picture: R.D.Bartlett
Atlantic draining Rivers, below Fall line; Mississippi River
basin; rivers draining Gulf of Mexico
(north of Rio Grande); and Great Lakes; introduced into many
additional rivers. Type locality: Wallkill,
| 11.5cm. (4½ins)
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