Moxostoma carinatum
River redhorse

Key Characteristics

The river redhorse is one of the largest redhorses reaching lengths of 76 cm and weights over 10 lbs. Their fins are bright red in living adults. It has 12 scale rows around the caudal peduncle and usually 42 to 45 lateral line scales. The origins of the pelvic fins are anterior to the midpoint of the base of the dorsal fin.

Status and Rank

  • State Status: T
  • State Rank: S2
  • Global Rank: G4


County NameNumber of OccurrencesYear Last Observed
St. Clair11984
St. Joseph21987
Distribution map for Moxostoma carinatum

Updated 5/15/2018. Information is summarized from MNFI's database of rare species and community occurrences. Data may not reflect true distribution since much of the state has not been thoroughly surveyed.


River redhorse prefer medium to large rocky rivers with moderate to strong currents. They are most often associated with long, deep run habitats between 0.3 and 3 m deep. This species requires clear, unpolluted waters and is intolerant of silt and turbidity.

Specific Habitat Needs

Gravel and rubble; moderate flow needed in Mainstem Stream (3rd-4th order), Pool, Mainstem Stream (3rd-4th order), Run, River (5th-6th order), Pool, River (5th-6th order), Run, Great Lake, Littoral, Benthic

Natural Community Types


For each species, lists of natural communities were derived from review of the nearly 6,500 element occurrences in the MNFI database, in addition to herbarium label data for some taxa. In most cases, at least one specimen record exists for each listed natural community. For certain taxa, especially poorly collected or extirpated species of prairie and savanna habitats, natural community lists were derived from inferences from collection sites and habitat preferences in immediately adjacent states (particularly Indiana and Illinois). Natural communities are not listed for those species documented only from altered or ruderal habitats in Michigan, especially for taxa that occur in a variety of habitats outside of the state.

Natural communities are not listed in order of frequency of occurrence, but are rather derived from the full set of natural communities, organized by Ecological Group. In many cases, the general habitat descriptions should provide greater clarity and direction to the surveyor. In future versions of the Rare Species Explorer, we hope to incorporate natural community fidelity ranks for each taxon.


Maintaining or establishing vegetated riparian buffers will help protect this species habitat. These are wide-ranging species, hence maintaining or establishing river connectivity is also important to this species, especially for spawning migrations.

Active Period

Spawning from fourth week of July to fourth week of August

Survey Methods

Page Citation

Michigan Natural Features Inventory. 2007. Rare Species Explorer (Web Application). Available online at [Accessed Sep 23, 2018]

More Information

See MNFI Species Abstract


Survey References

Technical References

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