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Noturus miurus Jordan, 1877   

ts been a few years since we have covered this North American genera (
Noturus nocturnus, Dec. 2014) so 30 factsheets later we have returned to the "Brindled Madtom" Noturus miurus. for our June factsheet of 2017. Similar looking species are the "Checkered madtom", Noturus flavater and the "Yellowfin Madtom" N. flavipinnis.



Noturus miurus


Noturus miurus



Noturus miurus inhabits riffles, pools below riffles and runs over gravel and sand mixed with sticks and leaves in creeks and small rivers. Also found in lakes. In its natural habitat it feeds on dipteran larvae (midges and blackflies), mayflies (Potamanthus and Stenonema), and hydropsychid caddisflies (Cheumatopsyche).




Noturus miurus


Noturus miurus



It inhabits mainstream rivers of small to medium size and the lower reaches of their major tributaries. Most commonly associated with moderate velocities, moderate depth (about 60 cm), clean sand or clay substrata and cover in the form of leaf packs, brush and log jams. This species is most active at night.




Heaviest just anterior to dorsal spine. Eye large, upper jaw overhangs lower; 4 pairs barbels. Pectoral spine strongly serrate, poisonous. Adipose fin low, continuous with caudal, with shallow notch posteriorly. Caudal fin rounded.

Back dark yellow/brown with three saddles; yellowish below, sides mottled. Dorsal fin with black blotch on edge of first 4 rays; anal fin with blotch near edge of posterior rays. Dusky bands at end of caudal peduncle and near margin of caudal fin.

Aquarium Care

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 kept with other stream- dwelling species such as shiners, minnows and darters.



As far as I am aware, no madtoms have been bred in the U. K. due to the unavailability of coolwater catfishes, 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. See ScotCat article on the breeding of Noturus stanauli.

Sexual Differences

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 health.

Glossary of Terms

Pectoral: The paired fins just behind the head.

Dorsal fin: The 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.

Whisker-like structure on the heads of most catfish.
Adipose fin: Fleshy finlike projection without rays, behind the rayed dorsal fin.
Caudal fin: The tail.
Caudal peduncle
: The narrow part of a fish's body to which the caudal or tail fin is attached.


Noturus: Greek, noton = back + Greek, oura = tail; refering to the position of the tail over the back.
miurus: meaning curtailed, probably referring to the short appearance of this fish.


Page, L.M. and B.M. Burr, 1991. A field guide to freshwater fishes of North America north of Mexico. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston. 432 p
Froese, R. and D. Pauly. Editors. 2016.FishBase. World Wide Web electronic publication. www.fishbase.org, ( 06/2016 )
Ferraris, C.J. Jr., 2007. Checklist of catfishes, recent and fossil (Osteichthyes: Siluriformes), and catalogue of siluriform primary types. Zootaxa 1418:1-628.
The Audubon Society Field guide to North American Fishes, Whales & Dolphins. Alfred A. Knopf, New York. 848 p.

Photo Credits

© Matt Wagner

Factsheet 252

Common Name:
Brindled Madtom
North America: lower Great Lakes drainages in Ontario, Canada and New York, USA southwest through most of Ohio River basin and lower Mississippi River basin (west to east Kansas and Oklahoma); Mohawk River in New York; Pearl River and Lake Pontchartrain drainages in Mississippi and Louisiana, USA. Type locality: Maumee River basin, lower Wabash River basin and White River near Indianapolis, Indiana [restricted to White River near Indianapolis, by lectotype designation].
11.0cm. (4¼ins)
16 -23°C (59-73°F)
6.5 - 7.0.
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