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up to 12 inches long; yellowish-green to olive above and light below; chin barbels yellow
small fish, aquatic invertebrates
Stone cat is found commonly in swift-flowing streams and is quite common and widely distributed in the interior streams. It is taken occasionally in some of the natural lakes and in the Mississippi River.
The stone cat, together with the other madtoms, represents the smallest fishes in the catfish family. Body color of this fish is yellowish-green to olive above and light below. The premaxillary band of teeth, a padlike band on the upper jaw, is U-shaped, and the chin barbels are yellow. There are usually 16 rays in the anal fin. The fish has been known to reach a length of 12 inches, although it rarely exceeds 6 to 8 inches. Most fishermen seem to distinguish this species from the other catfishes, but some confuse them with the young of other species.
The stone cat spawns in spring and, like all catfishes, builds a nest and guards the eggs and young. Madtoms exhibit an affinity for nocturnal behavior and probably spawn in areas of darkness, such as under rocks or in bank hides. The stone cat is the largest of the madtoms and lays between 500 and 1,000 eggs at a time. Stone cats prefer stream riffle habitats, but they are also found under rocks or weedy shorelines of lakes and ponds.
Most food-habit studies of the stone cat found the diet consisted mostly of the immature stages of various riffle-dwelling insects, supplemented with an occasional darter or other small fish. Like most catfishes they are omnivorous and extremely adaptable in seeking food items in ponds and lakes.