The brown bullhead (Ameiurus nebulosus) is a fish of the family Ictaluridae that is widely distributed in North America. It is a species of bullhead catfish and is similar to the black bullhead (Ameiurus melas) and yellow bullhead (Ameiurus natalis). It was originally described as Pimelodus nebulosus by Charles Alexandre Lesueur in 1819, and is also referred to as Ictalurus nebulosus.
The brown bullhead grows to be approximately 21 inches (53 cm) in length and is a darker brown-green dorsally, growing lighter green and yellow towards the ventral surface. The belly is off-white or cream, and the fish has no scales. Additionally, there are darker, brown-black speckles along the entire surface of the fish. The brown bullhead has a dorsal fin that bears a spine, a single adipose fin posterior to the dorsal fin, abdominal pelvic fins, and an anal fin with 21 to 24 rays. The tail is only slightly notched, with the dorsal and ventral lobes angling inward. The pectoral fins have spines that bear 5-8 serrated teeth on their posterior edge. The fish has eight barbels around its mouth. The barbels on the chin are black to yellowish brown. Juvenile brown bullheads are similar in appearance, but are more likely to be of a single solid color.
The native range of the brown bullhead is in the Atlantic and Gulf Slope drainages. More specifically, it is found from Nova Scotia and New Brunswick to Mobile Bay, Alabama, and in the Great Lakes, Hudson Bay, and Mississippi River basins (from Quebec to Saskatchewan, south to Louisiana, and west to Texas). However, there is evidence that the brown bullhead was historically absent from the Gulf Coast west of the Apalachicola River and east of the Mississippi River. The species is also abundant in many regions as a result of stocking for food or sport. These locations include Georgia, Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Virginia, and Washington. Brown bullheads are a social non-migratory species that are known to form schools.
The brown bullhead thrives in a variety of habitats, including lakes, ponds, and slow-moving streams with low oxygen or muddy conditions. In many areas of the United States, brown bullheads are opportunistic bottom feeders. The species has few natural predators and is not popular with fishermen, so it has thrived. Catfish are found in a variety of habitats, from lakes or murky ponds to drainage ditches. They are scarce during the day, but come out at night to feed, searching the bottom of a lake or river for food. They eat insects, leeches, snails, fish, clams, and many plants. They are also known to eat corn, which can be used as bait. Similarly to other catfish, they spawn only after the temperature of the water has reached 80 F (27 C) in June and July. However, cooler temperatures are required before brown bullheads will spawn in the northern US.
Brown bullheads can withstand a wide range of water temperatures and low oxygen levels. Brown bullheads can survive waters with heavy pollution and dissolved oxygen values as low as 0.2 ppm. Because of bullheads' tolerance of low oxygen levels, they are less threatened by winterkill and are capable of surviving in relatively extreme environments.
Brown bullheads typically live between six and eight years, but have been recorded as old as fifteen in captivity. The species spawns between April and June. For the duration of each breeding season, females will be monogamous. There are no consistent behaviors of mate attraction. The females lay eggs in dark locations such as under rocks and inside logs, where they are externally fertilized by the male. The fish face opposite one another during the fertilization process. Nests are primarily created by females, but the eggs are protected by both sexes. An egg cluster in a nest may contain between 50 and 10,000 eggs. The eggs usually take six days to hatch, but may take up to 13 days. Both parents generally care for their offspring for an additional five days after the eggs hatch. The young are kept in a school by a parent for up to one month. They will remain in schools as juveniles.
The fish has been introduced into many European countries, such as Poland, Germany, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Romania, Estonia, Hungary, Serbia, and Croatia. Brown bullheads have also been introduced to western North America, Chile, Puerto Rico and New Zealand.
Brown bullheads are omnivorous benthic bottom feeders. Their diet consists of algae, leeches, worms, mollusks, crustaceans, insects, crayfish, other smaller fish species and fish eggs. Brown bullheads are typically nocturnal feeders, but have been reported to feed diurnally. Bullheads have poor eyesight and are heavily reliant on their sensitive barbels to locate their food. The fish are omnivorous and will reportedly eat almost anything that fits in their mouth.
Brown bullheads are the most susceptible to predators in their developmental stages, primarily as eggs. They are prey to the following species: northern pike, muskellunge, walleye, snapping turtles, water snakes, green herons, yellow perch, and sunfish. Additionally, brown bullheads are used for small-scale commercial fishing, recreational fishing, and more specifically for consumption and research. Predation by other fish and coexisting species is only a realistic threat to bullheads under four inches, while the biggest threat to adult bullheads is humans. Brown bullheads have protective coloration to avoid predation. As a mode of physical defense against predators, bullhead species have a sharp spine on the leading edge of their dorsal and pectoral fins. To use this adaptation as a defense mechanism, bullheads will stiffen the spine while being attacked, impeding the predator's ability to swallow while simultaneously releasing a venom to sting and burn the predator.
Brown bullheads hold no special status on the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, the United States Endangered Species Program, or under the CITES appendix. Brown bullheads can tolerate very low dissolved oxygen levels that result from industrial and domestic pollution, aiding in their overall high rate of survivorship. Brown bullheads are the most abundant species in many lakes and streams across the continent.
In Missouri, the brown bullhead is listed as a Species of Conservation Concern and is threatened by habitat destruction, particularly the drainage of swamps in the Missouri Bootheel for conversion into farmland.
The brown bullhead is a smooth-skinned catfish with a mottled, brownish body and whisker-like barbels around the mouth. It lives in slow-moving ponds, streams and rivers throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed.
The brown bullhead grows to about one foot long, but can be as long as 20 inches. Its olive or yellowish-brown body is mottled with brown or black. It has a yellowish-white belly. It is smooth-skinned with a broad, flat head and four pairs of dark, whisker-like barbels around its mouth. Sharp spines appear on its dorsal and pectoral fins, and its tail fin is squared.
Spawning occurs from April through June. The parents build a nest in a dark, protected area such as under a rock or inside a hollow, submerged log. The female lays her eggs into the nest. Both parents guard the eggs and young. Brown bullheads can live as long as 7 years.
The Brown Bullhead is by far the most common of the three bullhead species found in Washington. It can be identified by the presence of strong barbs or serrations on the back edge of its pectoral spines, and pigmentation in the chin barbels. Like other members of the catfish family, brown bullheads are often abundant in water a little muddier and warmer than most other fish prefer. They can tolerate high water temperatures and low dissolved oxygen levels that would be lethal to most other game fish. Having a highly-developed sense of smell and touch, bullheads are well equipped to negotiate murky waters and find food.Average 8-12 inches. Can grow larger in quality populations.
Like other catfish, bullheads are omnivorous, eating almost anything that is available. Almost all food is taken on or near the bottom. Their excellent olfactory sense makes baits with a strong odor particularly effective. Popular baits include worms, chicken, beef, or any kind of liver. Serious catfish anglers often have their own secret bait concoctions, the smellier the better. A rod or cane pole, line, bobber and bait are usually all the tackle required. Bullheads also make excellent table fare; many anglers consider catfish taken from cool, clean water to be the ultimate in piscatorial cuisine. The fish are normally skinned, at which a little practice is required to become proficient. Any brown bullhead over 12 inches is a good-sized one, so expect to work for a family meal.
Distribution: The brown bullhead is native to eastern North America from Saskatchewan east to New Brunswick and south to Louisiana. Brown bullheads are common in Atlantic and Gulf coast drainages, but they have a more patchy distribution in the Mississippi drainage. They have been widely introduced outside their native range. They are found throughout New Hampshire.
Description: The brown bullhead, also known as horned pout, is a dark gray to brown colored catfish with a cream-colored belly. Its dark colored whiskers distinguish the brown bullhead from its close relative, the yellow bullhead, which gets its name from its yellowish underbelly and bottom two whiskers. Juvenile brown bullheads may be distinguished from margined madtoms by their prominent adipose fin. The adipose fin of the madtom is fused to the caudal fin.
Habitat: The brown bullhead prefers lakes, ponds, and slow moving sections of rivers and streams. However, brown bullheads are widespread throughout New Hampshire and may be found in almost any habitat, including faster flowing streams with rocky substrate. 59ce067264