Plants and Animals

Noturus miurus Brindled madtom

species photo
Ohio Department of Natural Resources
species photo
Amy Derosier
species photo
Amy Derosier

Key Characteristics

The brindled madtom is a stocky fish that becomes strongly laterally compressed behind the anal fin with four dark conspicuous saddle marks on its back. The adipose fin is connected to the caudal fin and the last saddle band reaches the edge of this fin. The dorsal fin is well head of the midpoint of the body and has a black tip. There are no light pair of spots near the dorsal fin base.

Status and Rank

US Status: No Status/Not Listed
State Status: T - Threatened (legally protected)
Global Rank: G5 - Secure
State Rank: S2 - Imperiled


CountyNumber of OccurrencesYear Last Observed
Hillsdale 2 2000
Jackson 2 1984
Lenawee 2 2012
Livingston 10 2009
Macomb 6 2015
Monroe 3 2009
Oakland 3 2005
St. Clair 3 2020
Washtenaw 14 2018
Wayne 2 2004

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.


In the Midwest, the brindled madtom is typically found in slow-moving rivers or streams primarily in pools below riffles. They are found over soft substrates with an abundance of stones, organic matter, woody debris, and/or vegetation in which they hide.

Specific Habitat Needs

Soft substrates, often near macrophytes needed in: Mainstem stream (3rd-4th order), pool; Mainstem stream (3rd-4th order), riffle; River (5th-6th order), pool; River (5th-6th order), riffle; 

Soft substrates, usually near macrophytes or an abundance of leaves and twigs needed in: Inland lake, littoral, benthic; 

Natural Community Types

  • Inland lake, littoral, benthic
  • Mainstem stream (3rd-4th order), pool
  • Mainstem stream (3rd-4th order), riffle
  • River (5th-6th order), pool
  • River (5th-6th order), riffle

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.

Management Recommendations

Michigan is the northern edge of range for the brindled madtom. This species is declining everywhere. Increased turbidity, siltation, and stream flow alterations have likely let to the decline of this species. They are also intolerant to toxic pollutants. It is important to maintain or establish broad vegetated riparian buffers to help ameliorate some of these threats. Additionally, this madtom competes for cover and spawning areas with the round goby, an introduced species. Hence management for this species must consider that of the goby.

Active Period

Spawning from first week of July to fourth week of August

Survey Methods

In small streams a backpack shocker is most appropriate. In larger rivers, a barge/boat shocker should be used.


Survey Period: From first week of April to first week of October


Survey Period: From first week of April to first week of October


Survey References

  • Murphy, B.R. and D.W. Willis, eds. 1996. Fisheries Techniques, 2nd ed. American Fisheries Society, Bethesda. 732pp.

Technical References

  • Bailey, R.M., W.C. Latta, and G.R. Smith. 2004. An Atlas of Michigan Fishes. Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan, No. 192, Ann Arbor. 215p.
  • Evers, D.C. 1994. Endangered and Threatened Wildlife of Michigan. The University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor. 412pp.
  • Scott, W.B. and E.J. Crossman. 1973. Freshwater fishes of Canada. Bulletin 184, Fisheries Research Board of Canada, Ottawa. 966pp.
  • Swart, S.L. 2005. Special Animal Abstract for Noturus miurus (Brindled Madtom). Michigan Natural Features Inventory, Lansing, MI. 3pp.
  • Trautman, M.B. 1981. The Fishes of Ohio. Ohio State University Press, Columbus. 782pp.

More Information