River Redhorse
  • Side view adult.
  • Side view adult.
  • Side view adult.
  • Top view adult.
  • Bottom view adult.
  • Head-on view adult.
  • Close-up flank.
  • Close-up head.
  • Close-up mouth and snout.
  • Close-up tail.
  • Close-up dorsal fin.
  • Close-up anal fin.
  • Close-up pectoral fin.
  • Close-up pelvic fin.
  • Close-up head: Notice that the head is bulky.
  • Close-up tail: The tail is red in life; there are 12-13 caudal peduncle scales.
  • The sides show a solid color and 41-46 (usually 42-44) lateral line scales.
  • Close-up dorsal fin: There are 13-15 dorsal rays having a straight to slightly concave margin.
  • Close-up mouth/snout: The lower lips form an obtuse angle. They are fleshy and plicate and are overhung by the snout.
  • Close-up flank: The flanks show a solid color with faint spots at the base of scales.
  • Side view of a breeder: Breeders develop tubercles on their anal and tail fins.
  • Close-up caudal region: Breeders develop tubercles on their anal and tail fins.
  • Close-up head: Breeders develop tubercles on their heads.
  • Side view of a breeder: Breeders develop tubercles on their anal and tail fins.
  • Close-up caudal region: Breeders develop tubercles on their anal and tail fins.
  • Close-up mouth/snout: The lower lips form an obtuse angle. They are fleshy and papillose and are overhung by the snout.
  • Alternative view of head.
  • Alternative side view.
  • Alternative view of caudal region.
DescriptionSimilar Species
Family
Suckers (Catostomidae)
Body
Mouth and snout: Inferior, no teeth on jaws. No barbels. Body patterning, color, and scales: Solid color or appearing faintly spotted (see also Breeding adults). Body usually silvery, bronze, golden, or copper, grading from dark olive shades on the back to white on the belly. Flank scales usually with a diffuse spot at their anterior exposed margin, often very faint in life but more pronounced in preserved specimens. Tail and dorsal fin red; other fins light yellow, orange, or red with limited dark pigment. 41-46 (usually 42-44) cycloid lateral line scales. Body shape and size: Body fusiform or slightly dorsal-ventrally flattened and elongate; approximately round in cross section (flattened on ventral surface). Typically 450-650 mm (18-26 in) TL; maximum in Wisconsin about 760 mm (30 in).
Fins
Tail, dorsal and other fins: Forked tail. Single dorsal with no spines and 13-15 rays. Pelvic fins abdominal. Adipose fin absent. Anal fin with 7 rays.
Distinguishing Characteristics
The river redhorse is unique in having the combination of a red tail in life, a plicate lower lip with a straight margin or obtuse angle, 12-13 scales around the caudal peduncle, and a bulky head with a blunt snout. It can also be distinguished by its number of dorsal rays (13-15) and its lower lip that is broad and fleshy throughout. See also similar species information.
Breeding Adults
Males with large tubercles on snout and head and minute tubercles on upper body and fins (photos). Actively spawning males may also have a broad dark lateral stripe that fades quickly upon capture.
Juveniles
Similar to adults.
Hybrids
None confirmed from Wisconsin.
Compare Similar Species
Dorsal Fin
Redhorse, Black12-14 rays, margin concave or falcate, rarely straight
Redhorse, Golden10-15 rays, usually 13, margin concave or falcate, rarely straight
Redhorse, Greater11-15 rays, usually 13-14, margin slightly concave to slightly convex
Redhorse, River13-15 rays, margin straight or slightly concave
Redhorse, Shorthead11-15 rays, usually 12-14, margin falcate
Redhorse, Silver14-17 rays, usually 15, margin usually straight or slightly convex
Sucker, Blue28-33 rays, anterior rays elongated
Sucker, Longnose9-11 rays, marging straight to slightly concave
Sucker, Northern Hog9-12 rays, usually 11-12, margin falcate
Sucker, Spotted11-12 rays, margin straight to falcate
Sucker, White10-13 rays, margin slightly concave to slightly convex
Lower Lip
Redhorse, BlackObtuse angle or straight margin, plicate
Redhorse, GoldenObtuse angle, plicate
Redhorse, GreaterObtuse angle, plicate
Redhorse, RiverObtuse angle or straight margin, plicate
Redhorse, ShortheadStraight margin, plicate with a few papillae
Redhorse, SilverAcute or right angle, papillose
Sucker, BlueAcute angle, papillose
Sucker, LongnoseAcute angle, papillose
Sucker, Northern HogAcute angle, papillose
Sucker, SpottedObtuse angle, relatively thin, plicate
Sucker, WhiteAcute angle, papillose
Body Pattern
Redhorse, BlackSolid color
Redhorse, GoldenSolid color
Redhorse, GreaterSolid color or with faint spots at anterior base scales in some fish
Redhorse, RiverSolid color or with faint spots at anterior base scales in some fish
Redhorse, ShortheadSolid color or with faint spots at anterior base scales in some fish
Redhorse, SilverSolid color
Sucker, BlueSolid color, darkly pigmented
Sucker, LongnoseSolid color or faint blotches, breeders with lateral stripe
Sucker, Northern HogDark mottling and large dark irregular blotches
Sucker, SpottedDark spots at anterior base of scales; lateral stripes in some breeders
Sucker, WhiteSolid color or faint blotches, breeders with lateral stripe
Lateral Line Scales
Redhorse, Black43-51, usually 44-47, all pored
Redhorse, Golden37-45, usually 40-42, all pored
Redhorse, Greater41-45, usually 42-44, all pored
Redhorse, River41-46, usually 42-44, all pored
Redhorse, Shorthead39-46, usually 42-44, all pored
Redhorse, Silver38-46, usually 41-42, all pored
Sucker, Blue53-58, all pored
Sucker, Longnose91-115, usually >95, all pored
Sucker, Northern Hog46-54, usually 47-51, all pored
Sucker, Spotted42-46, 0-38 pored
Sucker, White55-85, usually 60-70, all pored
Other Characteristics
Redhorse, BlackPelvic rays 8-11 but almost always one or both with 10; caudal peduncle depth >59% of caudal peduncle length; tail slate-colored in life
Redhorse, GoldenPelvic rays 9; caudal peduncle depth usually >63% of caudal peduncle length; tail slate-colored in life
Redhorse, GreaterHead rounded with a rounded snout, not overhanging lips ventrally; tail orange or red in life; scales around caudal peduncle 15-16
Redhorse, RiverHead rounded and bulky with a blunt or slightly rounded snout, overhanging lips ventrally in adults; tail orange or red in life; scales around caudal peduncle 12-13
Redhorse, ShortheadHead tapered to a pointed or slightly blunt snout, not overhanging lips ventrally; tail orange or red in life; scales around caudal peduncle 12-13
Redhorse, SilverTail slate-colored in life
Sucker, BlueDarkly pigmented fins
Sucker, LongnoseSnout distinctly extends past upper lip
Sucker, Northern HogTop of head with concavity between eyes; other species have this area flat or convex
Sucker, SpottedSpotes lined up in horizontal rows; limited to area above anal fin in small juveniles
Sucker, WhiteSnout barely extends past upper lip
Similarity Index
Redhorse, BlackVery similar
Redhorse, GoldenVery similar
Redhorse, GreaterVery similar
Redhorse, RiverN/A
Redhorse, ShortheadVery similar
Redhorse, SilverVery similar
Sucker, BlueModerately similar
Sucker, LongnoseModerately similar
Sucker, Northern HogModerately similar
Sucker, SpottedModerately similar
Sucker, WhiteModerately similar
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