Brown bullhead, Ameiurus nebulosus



brown bullhead


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.