Eel-like fishes and catfishes

Black Bullhead Black Bullhead
Ameiurus melas


To 17" (43 cm); 2 3/4 lbs (1.2 kg). Heavy anteriorly; back olive to black; sides yellow-olive to black; belly yellowish; body not mottled; fins dusky, membranes darker than rays; pale bar at base of caudal fin; 4 pairs of barbels, chin barbels gray-black or spotted. Head large, rounded above; eyes small; mouth terminal, short, wide. Pectoral fin spine rough, but without serrations; 17-21 anal fin rays, length of base less than head length, adipose fin present. Caudal peduncle short, moderately deep; caudal fin slightly notched.


Low gradient sections of streams, backwaters, lakes, and reservoirs, frequently over silty, soft mud.


From se. Ontario west to s. Saskatchewan; c. United States. Widely introduced outside native range.


The Black Bullhead is the smallest of the bullheads, and appears to be more tolerant of turbid, silty, polluted waters than other bullheads. It feeds on a variety of plant and animal material taken off the bottom.