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Do large madtoms eat small madtoms?

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#1 Daver

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Posted 15 April 2019 - 02:17 AM

I have five madtoms in a native community tank:  Three tadpole (Noturus gyrinus), one speckled (Noturus leptacanthus), and one black (Noturus funebris).  The tadpoles are about four inches long, and the speckled and black are about 5 inches.  I also have four more black madtoms in another tank that are about 2.25 inches.  I'd like to put the small ones in the tank with the larger ones.  Does anyone know if they would be in danger from the larger ones?


Thanks for any responses.

#2 Matt DeLaVega

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Posted 15 April 2019 - 06:32 AM

I would be concerned. I haven't kept enough different madtom species to know which play well together, but larger species definitely will eat a darter if given the opportunity.

The member formerly known as Skipjack

#3 Michael Wolfe

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Posted 15 April 2019 - 07:43 AM

If it fits they eat it.
Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing. - Benjamin Franklin

#4 JasonL

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  • Kentucky

Posted 15 April 2019 - 07:50 AM

I've kept freckled, brindled and tadpole madtoms together. If they are similar in size you will have no issues. I would be very leery otherwise if there is too much of a size discrepancy.

#5 Fleendar the Magnificent

Fleendar the Magnificent
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Posted 15 April 2019 - 08:56 AM

They might try to eat them, but even the tiny madtoms have dorsal and pectoral spines that cause a serious hurtin. I have a Stonecat madtom and if it fits in their mouth, it'll probably end up there until it gets a mouth full of spines.

#6 Daver

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Posted 15 April 2019 - 02:18 PM

I appreciate the responses.  I've definitely heard of madtoms eating darters, which are a lot like my smaller madtoms in terms of size.  I just didn't know if the fact that the small ones were also fellow madtoms made a difference.  I've seen bullhead catfish ignore smaller bullheads of the same species, which is what made me wonder about this.


I think I'll keep the small one separate until they're a good bit larger.

#7 Fleendar the Magnificent

Fleendar the Magnificent
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Posted 15 April 2019 - 02:55 PM

No problem. Madtoms DO eater darters. My stonecat killed himself last November by eating a darter that was a bit more than he could chew. Incredibly, he actually survived that ordeal. My son and I watched that catfish die and he remained dead on the tank flood for 35 minutes while we ate dinner. No movement, gills flared out in a death throe, turned translucent death gray and laying on it's side. When I came back after dinner to dip it out, it was alive and swimming around again. I now call him Zombie.


Regarding the smaller fish, I have a small pumpkinseed that I want to put into my larger tank, but I'm keeping him out for awhile because the spotfin shiners are 4X bigger than him and will beat the stuffins out of him at feeding time. The same issue might hold true with the smaller madtoms. Even if the bigger ones don't eat them, they'll probably get beaten up if not eaten up over food.


Chris M.

#8 Doug_Dame

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Posted 15 April 2019 - 06:28 PM

I trust no domestic catfish.


In my youth, a buddy and I caught about 100 mini-bullheads, little tadpole cuties about a 1/2" long. They cleaned out a tank of about 500 Heterandria, then started cannibalizing themselves. (And it's not like they weren't getting fed.) They worked themselves down to two. And those both died when one tried to eat the other, and got stuck. At no time was there a significant body size difference between the Eaters and the Eatees. 


I like madtoms, have kept them in the past and will again. But catfish are very effective predators. and I put them into a tank with the understanding that they'll likely get anything smallish I put in there, sooner or later.

Doug Dame

Floridian now back in Florida

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