Kentucky Creeks

Welcome to Kentucky Creeks.  dedicated to the beauty, diversity, and conservation of the waterways within Kentucky.

Other Stream Fish of Kentucky

Other than Darters and Shiners, there are more nongame fish swimming in Kentucky's creeks.  One common kind of fish that can be found throughout Kentucky are Madtom Catfish (Madtoms).  These small fish are members of the catfish family yet rarely seen by most.  These fish look similar to larger catfish, but are much smaller.  There are also many types of suckers, redhorses, sunfish, topminnows and others found in the state.  Below are some of the more common species.  Visit the KDFWR website to find stream fish in your area @ 

Stonecat, Noturus flavus

                                                                                                                                                           Photo courtesy of NANFA

Inhabits riffles of streams and rivers with large, loose cobble, pebble, and gravel.  Occurs in big rivers in swift current over sand or among riprap (1).  In Kentucky the Stonecat is found in most drainages in the eastern part of the state.  Found in the Kentucky River, Licking River, and middle Cumberland below the falls.  Growing up to 12inches, this fish needs a large tank and could eat other fish in captivity.


Mountain Madtom, Noturus eleutherus

                                                                                                                                                           Photo courtesy of NANFA

Occurs frequently in, above, and below clean-swept riffles and shoals of clear, swift streams and rivers over a cobble, pebble, and gravel bottom.  Young-of-the-year are often found in shallow riffles.  Also occurs in big rivers in swift water around debris piles (1).   The Mountain Madtom is commonly found in the Green River.  It can also be found in the upper Kentucky, Licking, and Big Sandy River drainages.  This catfish makes a good tank mate, but will be more comfortable with plenty of hiding spots as it will want to hide when the lights are on.  Grows to 5inches.

Brindled Madtom, Noturus miurus

                                                                                                                                                           Photo courtesy of NANFA

Frequents soft-bottomed pools among rocks or accumulations of sticks, leaves, tree roots, and overhanging banks or small to medium-size streams.  Seasonally found in gravel and debris-ridden riffles.  Generally distributed and often common throughout most of the state (1).   Uncommon and sporadic in the Cumberland River system, however the Brindled Madtom can be found most everywhere else.  Growing to 5inches, it makes a good tank mate, but will be more comfortable with plenty of hiding spots as it will want to hide when the lights are on.


Blackstripe Topminnow, Fundulus notatus

                                                                                                                                                           Photo courtesy of NANFA

Occurs in a variety of habitats including upland and lowland streams and lacustring/palustrine environments, avoiding high-gradient sections of streams or areas with swift current.  The Blackstripe Topminnow is found throughout northern and western Kentucky.  It can be found in creeks, streams, rivers, lakes, ditches, wetlands, and other bodies of water.  This fish makes a good addition to the stream tank and will occupy the upper level of the water column.  Grows up to 3inches.


Northern Studfish, Fundulus catenatus

                                                                                                                                                          Photo courtesy of NANFA

Inhabits clear upland creeks, streams, and rivers with substrates of pebble, gravel, and sand where it occurs in shallow pools and quiet margins of riffles often in or near beds of water willow (1).  In Kentucky, the Northern Studfish can be found commonly in the Green River, Licking River, Dix River, and middle Cumberland River including the Rockcastle River and Buck Creek.  Males are very colorful during the spawning season.  Makes a good tank mate in the stream style tank, growing to 7inches.


Northern Hogsucker, Hypentelium nigricans

                                                                                                                                                          Photo courtesy of NANFA

Inhabits upland creeks, sreams, and rivers with moderate to fast currents and clean-swept rocky substrates, characteristically found in or at the bases or fast riffles or shoals.  Occasionally ventures into big rivers and reservoirs (1).  The Northern Hogsucker is generally distributed and common throughout most drainages in Kentucky.  This fish doesn't make a good addition to an aquarium as it grows to 24inches.


1.       Burr, Brooks M. and Warren, Melvin L.  A Distributional Atlas of Kentucky Fishes.  Kentucky: Kentucky Nature Preserves Commission Scientific and Technical Series, 1986