Moxostoma erythrurum
Golden Redhorse

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The natural history of the northwoods



  • Moxostoma, from the Greek, "mouth to suck"
  • erythrurum, from the Greek, "red tailed". Despite species name, tail not particularly red
  • Common name from the golden color of its sides
  • Other common names include:


  • Kingdom Animalia
    • Phylum Chordata, animals with a spinal chord
    • Subphylum Vertebrata, animals with a backbone
      • Superclass Osteichthyes, bony fishes
      • Class Actinopterygii, ray-finned and spiny rayed fishes
      • Subclass Neopterygii
      • Infraclass Teleostei
        • Superorder Ostariophysi
        • Order Cypriniformes, minnows and suckers
          • Family Catostomidae, suckers
            • Genus Moxostoma, the redhorses


  • A larger, generally overlooked sucker
  • Length to 2'
  • Weight
    • to over 4 lbs in the south
    • under 2 lbs in the north
  • Coloration
    • olive back
    • golden/bronze sides
    • white below
    • dorsal and tail fins grey/olive; other fins pale orange
  • Body
    • moderately stout and slightly compressed
    • dorsal fin of 12-15 rays, usually 13
    • pelvic fin of 9 rays
    • complete lateral line of 39-42 scales
    • well-developed tubercules on anal and tail fins of breeding males
  • Head
    • relatively large
    • blunt snout
    • eyes small
    • large ventral mouth with thick, fleshy lips
    • lower lips meet at an angle (rear edge V shaped)
  • Lifespan


  • Distinguished from Silver Redhorse (Moxostoma anisurum) by
    • shorter dorsal fin of 12-15 rays (usually 13) as opposed to 14-16 (usually 15) in the Silver
  • Distinguished from Shorthead Redhorse (Moxostoma macrolepidotum) by
    • larger mouth
    • lower lips which meet at an angle, rather than an almost straight line


  • Minnesota through the Great Lakes to Lake Erie, south to Alabama.


  • Lakes, rivers, streams.



  • Minnesota Record: 2lbs 13oz, from the Otter Tail River (Otter Tail County)


  • Neither food nor game fish


  • Spawns May/June over very shallow riffles (backs often exposed)



Boreal border

Last updated on 6 November 1999