The Carolina madtom is small, with distinct black and tan saddles on its back. They have stinging spines in their pectoral fins which can pack quite a wallop, earning them their “furiosus” title.
Only five inches at their largest, the Carolina madtoms have a short, tan body with three wide dark saddles across the back. They also have a black lateral stripe and a dark blotch on their adipose fin.
This species is endemic to the Tar and Neuse river basins.
Carolina madtoms prefer free-flowing streams with clean sand or gravel bottoms. During the summer, they can be found hiding under mussel shells, logs, pieces of bark, and other cover.
Females produce anywhere from 80-300 eggs per season and lay them in cover areas. Males guard the nest until the eggs hatch. Juveniles grow about two inches in their first two years and then mature between age two and three. It is not certain how long these fish live, but they at least reach four years of age.
Madtoms feed primarily on bottom-dwelling invertebrates such as larval dragonflies and diving beetles.