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Becker, George C. / Fishes of Wisconsin
(1983)

Bullhead catfish family - ictaluridae,   pp. 693-732 PDF (19.6 MB)


Page 725

 
Stonecat   725 
Stonecat 
Noturus flavus Rafinesque. Noturus-back tail, in ref- 
     erence to the connection between the adipose 
     and the caudal fins; flavus-yellow. 
Other common names: yellow stonecat, stone cat- 
     fish, stonecat madtom, catfish, white cat, doog- 
     ler, beetle-eye, mongrel bullhead, deepwater 
     bullhead. 
Adult 162 mm, mouth of Plover R. (Portage Co.), 9 July 1958 
DESCRIPTION 
Body elongate, cylindrical anteriorly, slightly com- 
pressed posteriorly. Length 127-152 mm (5-6 in). TL 
= 1.18 SL. Depth into TL 4.6-7.8. Head length into 
TL 4.1-4.7. Snout pointed, fleshy; barbels arising from 
collar surrounding posterior nostrils, with tips 
reaching beyond middle of eyes. Mouth short but 
wide, horizontal; lips thick and fleshy. Lower jaw 
shorter than upper jaw; longest barbel (less than half 
of head length) attached to upper jaw at each corner 
of mouth; 4 barbels (outer 2 almost as long as the up- 
per jaw barbels, inner 2 about 2/3 length of outer bar- 
bels) attached in a transverse line on the lower chin. 
Numerous small, sharp, or peglike teeth in broad 
bands on upper and lower jaws; tooth patch on up- 
per jaw with elongate lateral backward extensions. 
Dorsal fin origin decidedly in advance of midpoint 
between pectoral and pelvic fins; dorsal fin swollen 
at base, dorsal fin with a short spine (¼-1/3 fin height) 
and 6-7 rays; dorsal adipose fin long, low, continu- 
ous with caudal fin and delimited from it by a shal- 
low notch. Anal fin rays 15-18; pelvic fin rays 8-10. 
Pectoral fin spine short (¼-V/3 fin length), strongly 
notched on its anterior edge from tip of spine to more 
than half of its length; posterior edge of spine smooth 
and barbless; poison gland opening by pore above 
base of pectoral fin (Scott and Crossman 1973, Reed 
1907). Caudal fin roughly rectangular in shape. 
Scaleless. Lateral line incomplete. Digestive tract 
coiled, about 1.3 TL. Chromosomes 2n = 48-50 
(LeGrande 1978). 
  Dorsal region of head, back, and upper caudal pe- 
duncle brown to slate gray; sides yellow-brown; belly 
yellowish to whitish. Light rectangular patch be- 
tween back of head and origin of dorsal fin; small light 
patch immediately posterior to base of dorsal fin. 
Pelvic fins generally unpigmented; all other fins lightly 
to heavily pigmented and light edged. Upper barbels 
lightly pigmented to mottled; chin barbels whitish. 
DISTRIBUTION, STATUS, AND HABITAT 
In Wisconsin, the stonecat occurs in all three drain- 
age basins. It is well distributed in streams within the 
southern one-third of the Mississippi River drainage 
in Wisconsin, and northward it appears in widely 
separated streams within the drainage systems of the 
Wisconsin, Black, and Chippewa rivers. In the Lake 
Superior basin, it appears mostly in the mouths of 
tributaries to the lake. In the Lake Michigan basin, 
disjunct populations occur in the Wolf, upper Fox, 
Milwaukee, and Root river systems. There are no 
records of the stonecat from Lakes Superior and 
Michigan. Because of its rubble-type habitat, this 
species is seldom captured by seine; the usual method 
is by electrofishing. 
  The stonecat is common in tributaries to Lake Su- 
perior (Moore and Braem 1965, McLain et al. 1965). 
In the southern two-thirds of Wisconsin, it is uncom- 
mon to common in medium-sized streams of moder- 
ate current. Its status is secure. 
  In Wisconsin, the stonecat was encountered most 
frequently in clear water at depths of 0.6-1.5 m, over 
substrates of gravel (34% frequency), rubble (24%), 
sand (12%), boulders (10%), mud (8%), silt (6%), clay 
(4%), and bedrock (2%). It occurs in moderate to fast 
current in riffles, in pools, and around the rock pil- 
ings of bridge abutments. It is found in streams of 
the following widths: 1.0-3.0 m (4%), 3.1-6.0 m 
(44%), 6.1-12.0 m (20%), 12.1-24.0 m (16%) 24.1-50.1 
m (16%), and over 50 m (occasional). The crevices 
among rock slabs which have been loosely placed to- 
gether to form a bank riprap, serve as habitat niches 
for this species. Its typical habitat is a stream with 
many large, loose rocks. 
  This species has been reported from Saginaw Bay 
in Lake Huron and from Lake Erie, where it occurs 
from shallows along the shore to depths of 9 m or 
more (Fish 1932, Scott and Crossman 1973), in areas 
where there is a minimum of current but much wave 
action (Taylor 1969). 


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