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greater redhorse

greater redhorse (Moxostoma valenciennesi) [state endangered] Photo © Uland Thomas

Features and Behaviors


The greater redhorse may attain a length of two feet. Its red tail is a prominent feature. There are rows of dark spots (one per scale base) on the back and sides. Its upper body is copper-colored while the lower body is yellow or white. The rounded snout contains a large mouth. The teeth in the throat are thin, like those of a comb.


The greater redhorse may be found in the Illinois, Vermilion and Fox rivers in Grundy, Kendall, La Salle and Livingston counties. It lives in sandy, rocky pools and runs of rivers and lakes. The water must be clear and unpolluted. Spawning occurs in spring. The greater redhorse feeds in schools on the bottom, eating bottom ooze, mollusks and aquatic insects.

Illinois Range


Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Cypriniformes
Family: Catostomidae

Illinois Status: state endangered, native

The greater redhorse lives only in the Illinois, Vermilion and Fox rivers in Grundy, Kendall, LaSalle and Livingston counties. It was considered extirpated from the state until its rediscovery in 1985. Maintaining good water quality and protection from siltation, turbidity and pollution are the management needs for this species.