Eel-like fishes and catfishes

Brown Bullhead Brown Bullhead
Ameiurus nebulosus
Speckled Catfish


To 19" (48 cm); 5 1/2 lbs (2.5 kg). Robust, heavy, rounded anteriorly; back olive to black; sides lighter, strongly mottled with brownish blotches, but juveniles may be black; belly whitish; fins dusky to black. Mouth terminal, upper jaw slightly longer than lower; 4 pairs of barbels, barbels on upper jaw long, reaching past base of pectoral fin; chin barbels dusky or black. Pectoral fin spine with strong serrations on rear edge; adipose fin present; anal fin has 21-24 rays, length of its base shorter than head length.

Related Species

Snail Bullhead (I. brunneus) has uniform body color, not mottled, 17-20 anal fin rays; inhabits moderate to swift streams over sand or rocks from S. Virginia south to E. Alabama and N. Florida. Flat Bullhead (I. platycephalus) has strongly depressed head; median fins with narrow, black edge; inhabits slow streams over sand or mud on Atlantic Coast from S. Virginia to central Georgia.


Clear water in deep pools with submerged vegetation.


Nova Scotia west to SE. Saskatchewan; central E. United States; widely introduced outside native range.


The Brown Bullhead appears to be intolerant of silty, polluted waters. It has been raised commercially and widely stocked in ponds and lakes.