Brown Bullhead

Ameiurus nebulosus

Quick Facts

  • Species

    Native

  • Habitat

    Bottom-dweller that lives in fresh and slightly brackish waters, including shallows, clear pools and deeper areas. Prefers slow-moving waters with a soft bottom and lots of vegetation.

  • Range

    Found in ponds, lakes, streams and rivers throughout the Bay watershed.

  • Diet

    Feeds on algae, insects, mollusks, crustaceans, crayfish and other fish

  • Lifespan

    Up to 7 years

  • Status

    Stable

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.

Appearance

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 fits, and its tail fin is squared.

Feeding

Brown bullheads are bottom-feeders that eats algae, insects, mollusks, crustaceans, crayfish and other fish, using their long barbels to taste for prey.

Predators

Larger predatory fish may prey upon brown bullheads, especially young.

Reproduction and Life Cycle

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.

Did You Know?

  • The brown bullhead is considered to be a delicious fish to eat.
  • Catfish have poor eyesight, so they rely on their sensory barbels to find prey.

Sources and Additional Information

Quick Facts

  • Species

    Native

  • Habitat

    Bottom-dweller that lives in fresh and slightly brackish waters, including shallows, clear pools and deeper areas. Prefers slow-moving waters with a soft bottom and lots of vegetation.

  • Range

    Found in ponds, lakes, streams and rivers throughout the Bay watershed.

  • Diet

    Feeds on algae, insects, mollusks, crustaceans, crayfish and other fish

  • Lifespan

    Up to 7 years

  • Status

    Stable