Members of Catostomidae and in particular Moxostoma (the redhorse suckers) comprise a large portion of the remarkable ichthyofaunal diversity in the southeastern United States (Warren et al. 2000). Recently, there has been a number of newly discovered Moxostoma species in the southeast (e.g., Apalachicola redhorse, M. sp.) and rediscoveries of species thought long extinct (e.g., robust redhorse, M. robustum). One such species, the sicklefin redhorse (M. sp.; Jenkins in prep) has been present in the Little Tennessee River system, but until recently has always been identified as the river (M. carinatum) or smallmouth (M. breviceps) redhorse.
Sicklefin redhorse are currently confined to the Hiawassee and Little Tennessee rivers of the upper Tennessee River basin. Both populations are confined within reaches enclosed by water impoundments. The population in the Little Tennessee system is enclosed downstream by Fontana Dam and upstream by Franklin and Bryson dams. Due to the limited geographic distribution and threats associated with physical alteration of the habitat, restoration and reintroduction efforts for this undescribed species currently are ongoing. CFI and partners (NCWRC, USFWS, EBCI) initiated propagation of this species in 2007 with adults of this large, rare, undescribed sucker collected from the Little Tennessee River near Franklin, NC. Approximately 1500 juveniles were successfully reared and released in July 2007 to the Tuckaseegee and Oconaluftee Rivers in NC. The Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians (EBCI) assisted the Oconaluftee 2007 release and provided funding and continued participation with ongoing 2008, 2009 and 2010 efforts—with an interest both in conservation and recovery of a rare species, as well as a food fish of past cultural significance. After a couple year hiatus from this project efforts resumed in 2012. CFI's improved methods produced over 10000 sicklefin redhorse larvae, most of which were released into the Tuckaseegee and Oconaluftee at various life stages hoping the larvae will imprint on the area of release.