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The color varies from yellow to dark brown with dark freckles on the lower lip and chin. The upper jaw projects beyond the lower jaw, and the pectoral spines lack anterior serrae. There are 15 to 20, usually no more than 18 anal rays. The caudal fin is usually darker than the other fins. Posterior corners of the premaxillary tooth band are rounded or sometimes obtusely angled. Freckled Madtoms are rarely more than 4-inches long.
The Freckled Madtom is an endangered species in Iowa. It was added to Iowa’s endangered species list in 1984 when several fish were collected from a single site in the English River. Since, this species has been found in another part of the lower Iowa River watershed, as well as in the Mississippi River and one of its tributaries.
Benthic invertebrates - immature insects and worms that live on the bottom of streams
Not allowed for threatened or endangered species.
In Iowa, it is illegal to fish for, take or possess threatened or endangered species, including the Freckled Madtom.
The Freckled Madtom prefers medium-sized creeks to large rivers of low to moderate gradient with clear to moderate turbidity and silty-gravel or sand-gravel substrates. It is often found in riffles and pools where organic debris such as leaves or twigs pile up. The Freckled Madtom avoids streams with shifting sand bottoms. It has been found in trash piles against stream banks or in shallow pools underneath rocks. Spawning behavior is similar to that of other madtoms.
These fish have minimal importance to anglers. It is viewed as vulnerable according to the Iowa Wildlife Action Plan, and it is on the threatened species list in Iowa (571 IAC 77.2(2) (2015)).
Recent stream sampling information is available from Iowa DNR's biological monitoring and assessment program.
Harlan, J.R., E.B. Speaker, and J. Mayhew. 1987. Iowa fish and fishing. Iowa Conservation Commission, Des Moines, Iowa. 323pp.
Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Iowa Wildlife Action Plan
Loan-Wilsey, A. K., C. L. Pierce, K. L. Kane, P. D. Brown and R. L. McNeely. 2005. The Iowa Aquatic Gap Analysis Project Final Report. Iowa Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Iowa State University, Ames
Photo courtesy of the Virtual Aquarium, The Department of Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Virginia.