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shorthead redhorse

shorthead redhorse (Moxostoma macrolepidotum) Photo © Uland Thomas

Features and Behaviors

The shorthead redhorse has big scales, and those on the back and sides have dark, crescent-shaped spots in them. The dorsal fin is short, and its outer margin curves inward. The rear edge of the lower lip is straight. Teeth are present in the throat. The air bladder has three chambers. The back and upper sides are green-brown. The lower sides are yellow-brown, and the belly is white or yellow. The caudal fin is red, and the dorsal fin is green or gray. The pectoral and pelvic fins may have an orange tinge. Breeding males have tubercles on all fins except the dorsal. Adults range from about nine to 30 inches in length.

This species lives in medium-sized to large rivers that have a strong current and substantial areas without silt. It may also be present in pools of small streams. It eats mainly insects. Adults migrate from large to smaller rivers and streams to spawn.

Illinois Range


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

Illinois Status: common, native