Jordan & Gilbert, 1886
he Madtom catfishes
of North America are well suited to aquarium life as most are
of moderate size. As some of this genera have very limited ranges
some are on the protected list and as such the collector would
need to have the information at hand as whether collecting of
a certain species would be permitted.
N. nocturnus inhabits sand-gravel
riffles and runs near debris and among tree roots along undercut
banks in creeks to large rivers. They feed on aquatic insects
dominated by mayflies, caddisflies, midges, and blackflies.
The main talking point of 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 defense 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 oily flesh"
The freckled madtom looks similar to
the Tadpole madtom (Noturus
gyrnus) but is more slender, more freckled and is distinguished
by the protruding upper jaw. Taylor
(1969: 79-81) noted that the species is variable and tends to
form distintive localised populations.
This species is moderately robust. The head
is depressed, rounded above with the upper jaw overhanging the
lower. 4 pairs barbels. Pectoral fin spine with anterior edge
smooth, posterior edge roughened or with 3-5 serrations, poison
gland at base. As with most of this genera, handle with care.
Anal fin is short, 15-20 rays.
Body has a uniform colour of a brown back
with the sides lighter with dark freckles. The belly is yellowish.
The base of the median fins are dusky and lighter towards the
edges, margins are clear.
Can be kept with other stream- dwelling
species such as shiners, minnows and darters.
The Madtoms are well
suited to aquarium life. Provide river gravel and smooth
rounded stones for hiding places during the day. A power
filter at one end of the tank will provide the conditions
of a flowing stream for these catfish. Can be housed with
other North American fishes such as minnows, darters and
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. Spawning's can takes place in Spring or Summer with
higher temperatures to trigger the spawning. They exhibit parental
care, with the male or both sexes guarding the clutch.
The life expectancy is three to four
years and they will be sexually mature in two years.
Ripe females of N. nocturnus have
been collected in late May in Arkansas. Nests have been found
in beer cans in shallow riffles with reduced flow at a water temperature
of 77°F (25°C) Clutches
range from 47-154 eggs. Nests are guarded by a single male and
they hatch within 139-161 hours at the temperature mentioned above.
|Not recorded but usually
the females are more rotund.
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
Greek, noton = back + Greek, oura = tail; refering to
the position of the tail over the back.
nocturnus meaning nocturnal, referring to the dark colouration.
The paired fins just behind
primary rayed fin(s) on top of the body.
Anal fin: The median, unpaired, ventrally
located fin that lies behind the anus, usually on the
posterior half of the fish.
and D. Pauly. Editors.
2009.FishBase. World Wide Web electronic publication.
www.fishbase.org, version (05/2012).
The Audubon Society Field guide to North American
Fishes, Whales & Dolphins. Alfred A. Knopf, New York.
Schleser David M.;
North American Native Fishes for the Home Aquarium. Barron's
Educational Series. Inc. 1998. 169 p.
Robinson Henry W.; Buchanan
Thomas M.; Fishes
of Arkansas. The University of Arkansas Press. 536p.
Smith Philip W.;
The fishes of Illinois. University of Illinois Press.
Urbana and Chicago. 313p.
© Larry M. Page