Photo by L. M. Page
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Noturus leptacanthus Jordan 1877
Identification: The Speckled Madtom has a slender body that is red- or yellow-brown above with many conspicuous black specks - some much larger than others, and light yellow to white below, without black specks. The dorsal, adipose, caudal, and anal fins are dark or darkly blotched, with light edges. There is a dark blotch at the base of the pectoral fin. The upper jaw projects beyond the lower jaw. The short pectoral spine lacks teeth. The caudal fin has a straight or rounded edge. There are 14-19 anal rays. To 3 1/2 in. (9.4 cm) total length.
Range: The Speckled Madtom is found in Atlantic and Gulf Slope drainages from the Edisto River in South Carolina to the Amite-Comite River in Louisiana, and in peninsular Florida as far south as the St. John's River drainage. The species is common.
Habitat: The Speckled Madtom inhabits sandy and rocky runs and riffles of creeks and small to medium rivers. It often is found near vegetation, logs or debris.
Similar species: No other small, slender madtom has conspicuous and scattered dark specks - some much larger than others, on the body and fins. Other madtoms, especially the Brown, Black and Freckled, have a pattern of uniform brown or black dots over the body, but no conspicuous large specks. In addition, the Brown Madtom, Noturus phaeus, has a stouter body, large teeth on the rear edge of the pectoral spine, and 20-22 anal rays; the Black Madtom, Noturus funebris, is more black than brown, has 21-27 anal rays, and a few small teeth on the rear edge of the pectoral spine; and the Freckled Madtom, Noturus nocturnus, has a few small teeth on the rear edge of the pectoral spine.