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The head is shorter than other redhorse species. It has a bright red tailfin, "pea shaped" upper lip with swelling in the middle and large scales.
Widely distributed throughout Iowa, but is more abundant in streams in the northern and eastern regions of the state.
Aquatic insect larvae, some plant material, mainly algae
Formerly named the Northern Redhorse (Moxostoma aureouim), this species was renamed to the present nomenclature in 1973. This fish is widely distributed over most of Iowa, but it is more abundant in streams in the northern and eastern regions of the state. Its wide range is probably due to its adaptability to changing environmental conditions and different habitats. The Shorthead Redhorse is abundant in the Mississippi River, common in the interior rivers and uncommon to rare in the natural lakes and the Missouri River drainage.
The shorthead redhorse prefers moderate to swift current over sand and gravel substrate. This sucker is adaptable to high turbidity, but it lives mostly in clear to slightly turbid water in the deeper stretches of the channel.
The Shorthead Redhorse is a slender, coarse-scaled sucker with a bright red tail fin. The head is shorter than other redhorse, its dorsal fin is strongly curved inward, with 12-13 or sometimes 14 soft rays. The upper lip often has a "pea-shaped" swelling in the middle. The rear margin of the lower lip is nearly straight with the lip folds divided into prominent papillae. The pharyngeal teeth are thin, comb-like with about 53 per arch. The lateral line is complete with 41 to 45 scales. Scale count around the caudal peduncle is 12.
Life history characteristics of Shorthead Redhorse are not much different than other redhorses. Adults commonly reach 10 to 22 inches in length and weigh from 1 to 4 pounds. Maturity is attained at age III. Upstream spawning movements in large schools is common for male redhorses in early April at water temperatures of 47 to 60 degrees F. Males gather and defend spawning territories that have gravel riffles and rubble shoals. The actual spawning ritual occurs when a female moves into the gravel-lined troughs or nests and two males mate with a single female. The semi-adhesive eggs are broadcast, left unattended and hatch in 4 or 5 days. Fecundity of an 18-inch female is about 22,000 eggs. Growth of the Shorthead Redhorse averages 1.9 inches the first year of life, 16.0 inches at age V and 20.9 inches at 11 years of age in the Mississippi River. Aquatic insect larvae is the principal food items of Shorthead Redhorse, but some plant material, mainly algae, are also eaten.