Black Bullhead

Ameiurus melas

black_bullhead.jpg

Image of a black bullhead
Joseph Tomelleri
Family

Ictaluridae (bullhead catfishes) in the order Siluriformes (catfishes)

Description

Smooth, scaleless skin and barbels, or “whiskers,” around the mouth, like all catfish. Only young, spawning males are truly black; dark greenish brown is the most common coloration. Square tail and a rounded anal fin.

Size

Total length: to 16 inches; weight: 2-3 pounds.

Habitat and conservation

Prefer turbid, silty water with little or no current.

Foods

Omnivorous bottom feeders, eating insects, mollusks, crustaceans, fish and plant material, including dead and decaying matter.

image of Black Bullhad Distribution Map
Distribution in Missouri

Throughout most of the state, but concentrated in northeast and central Missouri; absent in extreme south central region.

Status

Common.

Life cycle

Spawns in May or June with one or both parents selecting and guarding nest sites beneath logs or in weedy cover.

Human connections

Anglers pursue black bullhead with a variety of methods, including trot or jug lines and rod and reel.

Ecosystem connections

As a bottom feeder, this species aids in the decomposition process and nutrient cycling.