• Family: Catostomidae (Suckers)
• Other Names: Redhorse, sucker
• Ohio Status: No special status
• Adult Size: Typically 12-18 inches, can reach 25 inches. Usually weighs 2-3 lbs, can reach 6 lbs.
• Typical Foods: Larval insects, snails, small mollusks and other aquatic invertebrates.
Shorthead redhorse have a small head and a relatively long slender body. They have a concave (curves in toward body) dorsal fin and a bright red tail. Their body is gold to silver on the sides with a darker olive-brown back. They differ from the very similar smallmouth redhorse in having a longer and not as deeply concave dorsal fin. The shorthead redhorse is only found in Lake Erie and its tributaries. Smallmouth redhorse are only found in the Ohio River and its tributaries. Greater and river redhorse have larger heads, deeper bodies, and nearly straight dorsal fins. Ohio's other three redhorse have slate gray tails.
Habitat and Habits
Shorthead redhorse are found in Lake Erie and in the lower portion of its larger tributaries. They prefer relatively shallow water and swift currents. They are found in areas with a clean sand or gravel substrate free of clay or silt. Shorthead redhorse are intolerant of pollution and turbid (murky) water and are an indicator of good water quality.
Reproduction and Care of the Young
Shorthead redhorse spawn in April and May. Large numbers migrate upstream from Lake Erie to spawn at night at the top and bottom ends of shallow riffles. Two males will press a single female between them while all three fish vibrate as eggs and sperm are released. They bury their eggs in fine gravel with their tails. No further parental care is given.