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smallmouth redhorse

smallmouth redhorse (Moxostoma breviceps) Photo © Uland Thomas

Features and Behaviors


The smallmouth redhorse may attain a length of two feet but most individuals are shorter. This fish is green-brown or brown on the back and upper sides. The lower sides are green-yellow. The belly is white or yellow. The tail is red. There is a dark spot at the base of the scales on the back and sides. The presence of these spots gives the appearance of dark lines on the sides. The head and mouth are small. The lower lip has a straight edge in the back.


The smallmouth redhorse may be found statewide in Illinois except in the southern tip of the state. It lives in deep raceways and firm-bottomed pools in rivers. Spawning occurs in the spring. Groups of three to seven fish work to make a trenchlike nest on the bottom in sand and gravel. The nest site is shared with other sucker species. The smallmouth redhorse eats mollusks and aquatic insects.

Illinois Range


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

Illinois Status: common, native