BIO 210


The Noturus exilis, slender madtom, has a wide variation in the habitats they are able to occupy and survive in. N. exilis are found from Kansas to East Central Tennessee and from Southern Minnesota to North Alabama (Banks and DiStefano, 2002). This freshwater fish lives in backwoods pools and places with more vegetation patches. However, N. exilis tends to move to the riffles when it is time for spawning. N. exilis are able to live in various depths and current velocities. This information was studied in a case study done by Shawn M. Banks and  Robert J. DiStefano (2002). They took samples from 2 rivers producing 2206 specimen samples; madtoms made up 476 of those specimen. The two rivers they used were the Jacks Fork River and The Big Piney River. Of these two rivers, specimen were taken from two different spots along the river for six years. In this case study, the N. exilis was the most commonly found of the madtoms and the only madtom to be found in both rivers. However, the N. exilis was slightly more common in The Big Piney River. The N. exilis was classified as "microhabitat generalist" according to Banks and DiStefano (2002). It was also found that the N. exilis prefer habitats with cobble or pebble. It is suspected that this is the preference because pebbles and cobble provide more protection and hiding places (Banks and DiStefano, 2002). This shows that the N. exilis is able to survive better compared to that of the other madtoms, because they were more commonly found.

Another case study suggests that N. exilis is careful when it comes to current velocity and substrate type, but depth wasn't a big determinant. Stephen P. Vives (1987) did a study like the one by Banks and DiStefano using different water ways, but both came up with the same ideas. Vives studied N. exilis in Cloud Creek and Flint Creek. He found that N. exilis are more active at night and can be abundant in vegetation. Vives' study found that N. exilis prefer certain current velocities, but were found in a wide variety of current velocities (Vive, Stephen P. 1987).

Both of these sources are from two very different periods of time, but found common results for the Noturus exilis. Both studies provided evidence that the N. exilis prefer backwoods pools and live in a wide variety of current velocity and depths. This fresh water fish prefers cobble or pebble substrate types with vegetation patches in small to medium sized streams.


The habitat is a vital part of the slender madtoms life, but so is their diet. You may click the link to find out more about their nutrition or you may head back to the homepage.