Photo by William Roston
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Noturus flavater Taylor 1969
Identification: The Checkered Madtom has a stout body with the deepest point located in front of the dorsal fin. The body is yellow above with dusky mottling and 4 prominent saddles, and white to yellow below. The dorsal fin has a black blotch on the outer 1/3 of the fin. The caudal fin has a broad black bar on the base and a prominent black border; other fins have black bands and blotches. The adipose fin is free from the caudal fin and has a black bar which extends through the fin to its edge. The pectoral spine has large teeth on the front and rear. The caudal fin is straight or slightly rounded. The anal fin has 14-17 rays. To 7 in. (18 cm) total length.
Range: The Checkered Madtom is found in the upper White River system in Missouri and Arkansas. The species is uncommon.
Habitat: The Checkered Madtom lives along pool margins and in backwaters of clear small to medium rivers with moderate to high gradients. It is usually found associated with leaves and woody debris.
Similar species: The Brindled Madtom, Noturus miurus, lacks a broad black bar at the caudal fin base and prominent saddles, and has an adipose fin broadly joined to a rounded caudal fin. The Yellowfin Madtom, Noturus flavipinnis, lacks a black blotch on the dorsal fin, has a more mottled body, and has a greater connection between the adipose and caudal fins.