Northern Madtom (Noturus stigmosus)

A member of the bullhead catfish family, the northern madtom is a small, stout fish with four pairs of characteristic whiskers and sharp spines on its pectoral fins with poison glands that can cause painful wounds. The northern madtom reaches a maximum size of about 10 centimetres long.

Unlike most species of fish, northern madtom males guard their eggs and look after the young for a time following hatching. Females deposit sticky egg masses in nests made under flat stones surrounded by a thick bed of aquatic plants. Spawning usually occurs at night. Adult northern madtoms feed on insect larvae, crustaceans and small fish.

Although typically found in large creeks and big rivers, the northern madtom has been found in deep waters in the Detroit River and Lake St. Clair. The fish will live in clear or cloudy water with a moderate to swift current and prefers a river or creek bed of shifting sand, gravel and mud, but will tolerate some silt and accumulated debris. This globally rare fish was last detected in the Sydenham River in 1995.

northern madtom