Common Name: Tadpole Madtom Catfish
Latin Name: Noturus Gyrinus
Origin: North America, Southeast and now Western as well.
Temperature: 65-75° (19-24°C) Can tolerate higher and lower, but not long term
Ease Of Keeping: Easy
Aggressivness: Extremely Peaceful, carnivorous
Lighting: Dim for more activity
Adult Size: approx. 5″ (12.5cm)
Minimum Tank Size: 15 gallons is preferable over ten, though ten will suffice
Feeding: Live foods, frozen foods, will also learn to eat prepared types
Spawning Method: Breeding has not been widely successful with this species
Comments: The Tadpole Madtom, though a nocturn, will exhibit its beauty during the day if it feels it is safe. They are highly active predators and will swim incessantly searching for prey at night. With movement much like a dancer or a whip, they are very entertaining.
Often they are found in beercans in streams, as they prefer shelter. Due to this tendancy, they can be trapped in this manner, should local laws permit.
Reports of slow growth abound, but if kept in warmer water, the Tadpole Madtom will bloom quickly, doubling its size in six months from juvenile to adolescent. Not all Madtoms will tolerate warm water and in places with co-existing madtom species, Tadpoles will remain in warming water, up to 82º, while others retreat to cooler waters.
Not being equipped with good eyes, he is not usually the first to the feeding spot. Attention should be paid while feeding to ensure that he finds food, though he will scavenge thoroughly. Best to feed after lights go out. It’s best not to feed annelids, like earthworms and leeches because even though they are eaten, they do not digest well and can cause intestinal trouble. Bloodworms and other larvae are their primary natural fare, so making a good staple, though variety is important and the catfish will eat plenty of other foods.
A healthy Madtom keeps its whiskers pointed conically forward and will react strongly to bumps or heavy footsteps. They will swim in an excited zig-zag manner when excited, reputed by some to be the source of the name Madtom. Others say the name comes from one man’s reaction to having been stung by the supposedly poisonous spines. I have hand-caught over fifty madtoms and their occasional stings were nothing more than a nuisance, not even comparable to mosquito bites.
They are a great beginner’s catfish, a testimony made evident by my own ability to have raised my beautiful brown and white specimen to near maturity at this point. Being a small fish at maturity and only occasionally (reportedly) eating smaller fish, they are good for most medium-large peaceful communities, with temps in the upper seventies being acceptable for the long term.
Fun to watch and easy to keep, I will be keeping a madtom somewhere in my tanks as long as I’m keeping fish, be they available.