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Smoky Madtom Noturus baileyi


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Smoky Madtom
© U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service

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Family: Ictaluridae, Bullhead Catfishes view all from this family

Description To 3" (7.3 cm). A tiny, tadpole-shaped catfish. Light brown to olive-brown above with paler, yellowish blotches; belly white. Chin barbels prominent. 8 pelvic fin rays; 12-13 anal rays.

Endangered Status The Smoky Madtom is on the U.S. Endangered Species List. It is classified as endangered throughout its range in Tennessee. This tiny catfish was discovered in 1957 when the native fish in an outflow stream from Chilhowee Reservoir were intentionally poisoned in preparation for the establishment of a trout fishery in the reservoir. It was thought to be extinct until 1980, when a single population was found in Citico Creek, Monroe County. This remaining small, isolated population is vulnerable to any changes to the ecosystem, such as those imposed by logging, mining, and construction in the area. Besides the usual toxic runoff, mining activities could cause a bigger problem if a rock formation found in the area is exposed. Known as anakeesta shale, this rock leaches heavy metals and acidic runoff when exposed, and in other areas its exposure has killed off all the fish life.

Habitat In shallow riffles of creeks with rocky beds.

Range Monroe County, Tennessee.