Photo by L. M. Page
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Noturus nocturnus Jordan & Gilbert 1886
Identification: The Freckled Madtom is dark brown or gray above with a pattern of tiny dark dots over the body and fins. It is light yellow or white below without dark dots or specks. The anal fin has a black edge; other fins are dark at the base and lighten toward the edge. There are 2-3 small teeth on the rear edge of the pectoral spine and 16-18 anal rays. The rear edge of caudal fin is straight or slightly rounded. To 5 3/4 in. (15 cm) total length.
Range: The Freckled Madtom is found in the Mississippi River basin from northern Illinois to Louisiana, and from eastern Kentucky to central Kansas and Oklahoma, and in Gulf Slope drainages from Mobile Bay, Alabama, to the Guadalupe River, Texas. The species is common in most of its range.
Habitat: The Freckled Madtom is found most often near woody debris and among tree roots along undercut banks in creeks to large rivers.
Similar species: The Black Madtom, Noturus funebris, is more black than brown and has a pattern of tiny black dots on the underside of the head and belly and 21-27 anal rays. The Brown Madtom, Noturus phaeus, has a pattern of tiny brown dots on the underside of the head and belly, 20-22 anal rays, and large sawlike teeth on the rear edge of the pectoral spine. The Speckled Madtom, Noturus leptacanthus, has conspicuous black specks - some much larger than others - on the back and sides and no teeth on the pectoral spine.