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Fact Sheet:

Neosho Madtom (Noturus placidus)

(pdf version)


Photo of a Neosho madtom.


Status: Threatened


Habitat: This fish is found in stream riffles over loosely-packed gravel bottoms. Adults prefer swift, shallow currents while young madtoms inhabit deeper water with slower currents.


Behavior: The madtom eats aquatic insects such as mayfly larvae, usually in the three hours before sunset. Little is known of its reproductive habits, though biologists believe it spawns in June and July.


Why It's Endangered: Dams and reservoirs have inundated much of the madtom's habitat, destroying the gravel riffles and the swift currents the fish needs to live. Cold water released from the Tenkiller Dam killed off all madtoms on the Illinois River in Oklahoma. Reservoirs which would destroy more madtom habitats are currently being planned.


Other threats include gravel dredging and pollution from cattle feedlots. Urban and agricultural runoff may also contaminate the rivers in which madtoms live. During droughts people draw more water from reservoirs, drying up the river downstream where madtoms live.


Fact Sheet prepared November 1997




Last updated: March 12, 2018