Neosho Madtom

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Neosho Madtom

Noturus placidus

ListedMay 22, 1990
DescriptionA small catfish.
HabitatStreams and small rivers with a gravel bottom.
FoodAquatic invertebrates.
ReproductionLays externally fertilized eggs.
ThreatsHabitat destruction and water pollution.
RangeKansas, Missouri, Oklahoma


The Neosho madtom is a small, flat-headed cat-fish with a body length less than about 3.2 in (8.7 cm). Its body color is yellowish, with four brownish saddles on the back and scattered mottling on the sides.


The Neosho madtom feeds on aquatic insects such as mayfly larvae (Ephemeroptera), usually during the several hours before sunset. Little is known of its reproductive habits, although it is thought to spawn in June and July.


The Neosho madtom is found in stream riffles over a loosely-packed gravel bottom. Adults prefer swift, shallow currents while young fish inhabit deeper water with slower currents.


The Neosho madtom occurs in reaches of the Neosho, Cottonwood, and Spring Rivers, in the Arkansas River drainage in Kansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma.


Much of the original habitat of the Neosho madtom has been destroyed by the construction of dams and reservoirs, which inundate habitat and destroy the gravel riffles and the swift currents the fish needs to live. Cold water released from the Tenkiller Dam killed off all Neosho madtoms on the Illinois River in Oklahoma. New impoundments are a potential threat to the Neosho madtom, by altering flow and other habitat characteristics and isolating populations. Commercial dredging for gravel removes riffle habitat and may also destroy madtoms. Organic and nutrient pollution from feedlots, runoff from agricultural fields, municipal and industrial sewage effluent, accidental spills from roads, the Wolf Creek Nuclear Generating Station, and the Cherokee County Superfund Site cleanup operations are also a threat.

Conservation and Recovery

Various actions have been undertaken on behalf of the Neosho madtom. Studies have been made of its habitat use and distribution in four selected river reaches. Oklahoma State University conducted a survey of the Neosho River, resulting in two additional site records within the known range of the rare fish. Consultations with the Federal Highway Administration resulted in a highway bridge being constructed over the Neosho River in a way that avoided impacts to the madtom. The U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service also consulted with the Soil Conservation Service on the construction of a dam on a tributary watershed within the Cottonwood River Basin, resulting in design changes and a monitoring program to try to avoid damages, and to determine what residual effects may have occurred. Continuing needs include studies of population size and mobility, and assessment of the degree of competition with other species, especially the slender madtom (Noturus exilis ). Protecting critical habitat in the Neosho, Cottonwood, and Spring Rivers is also crucial.


U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Regional Office, Division of Endangered Species
P.O. Box 1306
Albuquerque, New Mexico 87103-1306
Telephone: (505) 248-6911
Fax: (505) 248-6915

U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Regional Office, Division of Endangered Species
1 Federal Drive
BHW Federal Building
Fort Snelling, Minnesota 55111
Telephone: (612) 713-5360

U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Regional Office, Division of Endangered Species
P. O. Box 25486
Denver Federal Center
Denver, Colorado 80225

U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Northern Prairie
Wildlife Research Center
8711 37th Street Southeast
Jamestown, North Dakota 58401


Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center. 2000."Status of Listed Species and Recovery Plan Development: Neosho Madtom." Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center. ( Date Accessed: July 6, 2000.