North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission

Carolina Redhorse

Scientific Name: Moxostoma sp. ‘Carolina’

Classification: State Threatened


The Carolina redhorse is a medium to large redhorse species attaining lengths to near 23 inches in length.  .  The Carolina redhorse was unknown to science until it was discovered in 1995 in the course of comprehensive redhorse studies by R. E. Jenkins.  The species has not yet been officially described and is relatively rare throughout its known range.

A moderately sized sucker with plicate (tightly folded, having parallel ridges and grooves) lips that are indented on the rear edge.  Its back and sides are brownish with coppery or brassy sheen and, in larger specimens, contrasts with the light belly giving a distinctly bi-colored appearance.  The lowest dark-colored scale rows form stripes toward the tail of the fish.  The pectoral and pelvic fins are brownish orange, and the dorsal, anal, and caudal fins are gray.  In younger individuals, all of the fins may be salmon-colored.  Breeding males have tubercles on the snout, cheeks, lateral scales, and anal and caudal fins.

This redhorse is currently known from the Deep River (Cape Fear drainage), upper Cape Fear River, Little River (Yadkin-Pee Dee drainage) and the Pee Dee River in NC.  Its range does extend down the Pee Dee River into SC. 

Habitat Preferences and Life History
Little information is known about this species.  The Carolina redhorse inhabits small to large upper Coastal Plain and lower Piedmont rivers.  Except during the spawning season, adults are usually captured in deeper water (> 6 ft.) with sluggish current, silt-sand bottoms, and near large woody debris.   

Protected under the state Endangered Species Act.  No Carolina redhorse can be collected or killed without a permit from the NC Wildlife Resources Commission.

The NCWRC works cooperatively with the NC Museum of Natural Sciences to survey and PIT tag (a small, coded microchip which is injected under the skin) Carolina redhorse within their range.