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Black Redhorse

Black Redhorse
Moxostoma duquesnei

New York Status: Special Concern


Black Redhorse

The slenderest of the New York redhorses, the black redhorse averages 10-15 inches in length. Like all redhorses, it has large scales, a complete lateral line and a three-chambered (rather than one or two) swim bladders. This redhorse can be distinguished from other members of the sucker family by the shape and contours of its lips. The lips of the black redhorse have wrinkle-like folds (not bumps), and the bottom lip is almost straight across rather than V-shaped. The black redhorse has a slate-colored tail and a pointed, almost triangular-shaped, dorsal (back) fin.

Life History

A member of the sucker family, the black redhorse is one of six redhorse species found in New York State. It spawns in the spring when the water temperature is between 56-72 F. Male black redhorses leap into the air in pools upstream of the spawning sites, then drift downstream into the spawning areas to establish and defend territories. Two or more males attend a single female who spreads her eggs over gravel and then abandons them. The number of eggs produced can vary from 1,300 to more than 6,000.

The black redhorse is a bottom feeder. It sucks in materials from the bottom and then expels any silt. Aquatic insects, copepods, freshwater shrimp, sideswimmers, and aquatic roundworms make up the bulk of this fish's diet.

Distribution and Habitat

The black redhorse is found throughout the central part of the upper Mississippi basin, the southern Great Lakes basin and in southeastern Minnesota, Iowa , Missouri, Oklahoma, and Arkansas. In New York, this fish has been found in both the Lake Ontario (likely extirpated) and Lake Erie drainage basins and in the Allegheny River. It occurs in clean, swift flowing creeks and rivers with bottoms of gravel, rock, or sand and has a low tolerance for pollution, siltation, or turbidity.

Population Status

Little information exists relating to distribution and abundance of the black redhorse, but because of this fish's intolerance for certain environmental conditions, it will not be found in waters that are polluted, silted, or turbid.

Most recent catches come from the Allegheny River basin and the Buffalo River.

Management/Research Needs

The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) will complete a survey of black redhorse population, then reassess its "special concern" status. If indicated, DEC will establish and monitor additional viable populations.

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