Ameiurus melas (Rafinesque, 1820)
member of the Catfish Family (Ictaluridae)
Bailey Slough WPA, Lac Qui Parle County, Minnesota 12 June 1985
photos by Konrad Schmidt
In a Name?
Do They Live?
Black bullheads are common throughout Minnesota's many lakes, rivers, and streams, but they are most common in the southern half of the state. They prefer slow moving, quiet waters that have soft bottoms made up of mud and sand, sometimes with gravel mixed in. They have a high tolerance for turbid water (turbid means "cloudy") that many fish cannot withstand. They also tolerate water with only small amounts of oxygen dissolved in it. So, they can live in just about any habitat. They often are found living among white suckers, central stonerollers, common shiners, creek chubs, fathead minnows, and tadpole madtoms.
Big Do They Get?
Do They Eat?
This bottom dweller is considered a scavenger (eats dead things) and an opportunist (eats whatever comes its way). Both young and adult black bullhead eat insects (all stages), clams, snails, waterfleas and other small-crustaceans, crayfish, leeches, and even plant material. Adults eat small fish, including other bullheads, but fish are really small part of their diet.
Do They Reproduce?
"Cool Fact": Because the black bullhead keeps well in aquariums, it has been used in many kinds of scientific studies.
Permission is granted for the non-commercial educational or scientific use of the text and images on this Web document. Please credit the author or authors listed below.
Photographs by Konrad P. Schmidt
Text by Nicole Paulson & Jay T. Hatch in cooperation with
the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources' MinnAqua Aquatic Program
This page developed with funds from the
MinnAqua Program (Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Division of Fisheries)
Sport Fish Restoration Program (Fish and Wildlife Service, US Department of the Interior)
Maintained by Jay T. Hatch
General College and James Ford Bell Museum of Natural History
University of Minnesota, Minneapolis/St. Paul
Last updated 23 October 2002