Brown bullhead, Ameiurus nebulosus
The Brown bullhead is New Brunswick's representative from this family of fish. Its body is without scales and ranges in colour from olive to dark brown. Its head is large and mouth is wide with four barbels extending from the lower jaw and one large barbel from each corner. There is also a pair of short barbels on the snout. The dorsal and pectoral fins have serrated spines that can be locked in the erect position. The caudal fin is square and an adipose fin is present. The average size of the brown bullhead is 8 – 14 inches.
Brown bullheads are bottom dwellers that prefer slow moving warm waters
of rivers and lakes. Generally associated with muddy bottoms, the
bullhead is can be found in over almost any type of substrate. The
bullhead is also able to tolerate waters with low oxygen levels and low
salinity. It will eat plant and animal material, including insect
larvae, snails, worms, and some fish. Spawning occurs in June when the
water temperature reaches 21o C. A shallow nest is excavated in mud or
sand substrate. The nest is usually near rocks, log, or in vegetation,
and in six inches to several feet of water. One or both parents
provide parental care for the eggs and young, fanning it and defending
against predators. The school of young fish is often mistaken for as
tadpoles. By fall, the young bullheads grow to 2 – 4 inches in length.