• Family: Catostomidae (Suckers)
• Other Names: Redhorse, sucker
• Ohio Status: No special status
• Adult Size: Typically 12-16 inches, can reach 20 inches. Usually weighs 1-2 pounds, can reach 3 pounds.
• Typical Foods: Larval insects, snails, small mollusks and other aquatic invertebrates.
Smallmouth redhorse have a small head and a relatively long slender body. They have a deeply 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 shorthead redhorse in having a shorter and more deeply concave dorsal fin. The smallmouth redhorse is only found in the Ohio River and its tributaries. Shorthead redhorse are only found in Lake Erie 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
Smallmouth redhorse are found in the Ohio River and in other larger streams and rivers in the Ohio River drainage basin. 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. Smallmouth redhorse are intolerant of pollution and turbid (murky) water and are an indicator of good water quality.
Reproduction and Care of the Young
Smallmouth redhorse spawn in April and May. They migrate into smaller streams and 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.