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Yellow Bullhead

YELLOW BULLHEAD

SCIENTIFIC NAME: Ameiurus natalis

CHARACTERISTICS: Locally known as yellow cat, the yellow bullhead is distinguished from the black bullhead, Ameiurus melas, by its white or yellow chin barbels, 24 to 28 rays in a straight-edged anal fin, and five to eight fairly large teeth on the posterior edge of each pectoral spine. The rear edge of the caudal fin is straight or slightly rounded. The back is yellow, olive, or dark gray, grading from light yellow to white on the venter. The fins are light to dark gray, and they may have light to darkened margins.

ADULT SIZE: 6 to 15 in (152 to 380 mm)

DISTRIBUTION: Yellow bullheads are widespread and occasionally abundant in all river systems of Alabama.

HABITAT AND BIOLOGY: This species prefers medium-sized to small streams, backwaters, and swamps characterized by slow-moving currents, sand and silt substrates, and varying amounts of aquatic vegetation. Yellow bullheads usually spawn in April and May, which is earlier than the spawning times of black bullheads and brown bullheads. Young remain close to the nest, congregating in schools, and are guarded by males (Etnier and Starnes, 1993). Food items include worms, crayfish, insects, small minnows, and quantities of aquatic vegetation and sediments. The life span is estimated to be seven years and the maximum adult size around 15 inches.

ORIGINAL DESCRIPTION: Lesueur described the yellow bullhead in 1819.

ETYMOLOGY:
Ameiurus means unforked caudal fin.
Natalis means having large buttocks, referring to the large humps that develop between the head and dorsal fin origin on breeding males.

The copyrighted information above is from Fishes of Alabama and the Mobile Basin.

Note: In Alabama, it is illegal to stock or move any fish, mussel, snail or crayfish to any public water without a permit.

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