Moxostoma ssp.

Identification: Redhorses reach a maximum size of 25 to 30 inches. They are solid-bodied, cylindrical fish, with strong, smooth scaling reflecting silver or gold. They have the spineless fins, soft, toothless mouth and thick lips typical of the sucker family. The head has no scales. The redhorse’s back is gray to olive-brown. The upper sides have copper, golden or greenish sheens. The lower sides are silver to bronze. The belly is golden or silver-white. The redhorse’s fins, either all or some of them, are tinged with red-orange or pink-orange. The red coloring may be at the edges of the fins, or spread over the whole fin.

Habits: Redhorses live in slow areas of big rivers, in the fast waters of small creeks, or lakes, according to their species. Most are typically fish of clear, small to medium-sized rivers.

Life history: The redhorses spawn in spring, with most migrating upstream to shallow rubble or gravelly shoals in fast water. In some redhorse species the males are territorial. In other species the eggs are simply scattered and left on their own. Several males generally spawn with one female. Redhorses spawn when water temperatures reach the high 50s to low 70s, according to each species’ preference. Females deposit from 6,000 to 36,000 eggs, according to their size and type. Redhorses eat a variety of small aquatic animals and plants found on the stream bottom, including snails, mollusks, midges, aquatic insect larvae and algae. River redhorses are especially known for feeding on freshwater clams, crushing the small mollusks with their strong pharyngeal teeth (located in the throat).