Picture of a Slender Madtom







 Freckled Madtom (Noturus nocturnus)

Etymology: Noturus- back tail, referring to fusion of adipose and caudal fins; nocturnus = nocturnal, referring to itís dark coloration

 Geographical Distribution:

They are widespread below the Fall Line in central and Lower Mississippi. Distribution is from Georgia to Texas.  Occurs in habitats ranging from medium-sized creeks to large rivers. 

Diagnostic Features

They have anal fin rays, soft pectoral rays, pelvic fin rays.  Freckled Madtoms are uniformly dark gray or yellow to dark brown with dark freckles about the lower lip and chin. They grow to up to 78mm in their first two years.  Their life expectancy is 4.5 years.  The fish maximum length is 150mm. 

Habitat and Feeding Preferences: 

It is associated with cover in the form of brush, logs, and roothair masses and they prefer areas of deviating current.  Their diet consists of mayflies, caddis flies, midges, and black flies         

 Reproductive Biology

Females become sexually mature by their second summer and spawn an average of 102 eggs every summer.  Polygamy is common in madtoms.  They initially spawn in the New England states in June and July and by the end of the summer they have slowly made their way down to southern states like Tennessee and Georgia.

 Ecology and Behavior

Females guard their eggs and while their offspring is cheap, the female protects her young more than other fish.

 Reasons for Decline

Once streams are depleted, there is a large collection of madtoms in a concentrated area. This makes the competition for food detrimental.  Perhaps the biggest problems are the predators that feast on the madtoms when they are sop easy to catch.  They are very small and defenseless and the Darwinist principles soon take effect.


As of now the conservation of the Freckled Madtom is questionable because the laws of nature seem to have it in for this small member of the catfish family.