Iowa DNR
River & Stream Biological Monitoring
Fish and Benthic Macroinvertebrate Surveys
Physical Habitat Assessments

Black Bullhead Ameiurus melas

Ictaluridae (Catfishes)
Trophic Class
Is Exotic to Iowa?
Is Lithophilous Spawner?
Is Hybrid?
State Listing Status
Not Listed
Assessment Program Statistics

This species was found at 219 bioassessment sites, 15 rapid fish bioassessment sites, 41 fisheries assessment sites, and 4 fisheries presence-only assessment sites. In total, it was collected at 274 distinct sites, or 19% of the 1442 total sites monitored by the bioassessment program. It is the 30th most commonly collected species.

The Black Bullhead was collected in 320 bioassessment sampling sessions and 75 fisheries assessment sessions. It was present in 15 rapid bioassessment sessions and 4 presence-only sessions.

The biological assessment program has collected a total of 2,762 individual Black Bullhead specimens, ranking it the #47 most collected fish.

Species Characteristics

Usually dark olive to black on the body, although it becomes light brown in some waters. The belly is usually white, but the color varies, and the belly is bright yellow in certain lakes and larger rivers, especially in early spring and during the breeding season. The chin barbels are dusky or black. This fish can be distinguished from the other bullheads by the light colored band at the base of the tail and the 17 to 20 rays in the anal fin. The tail fin is slightly notched, and the outer two-thirds of the fleshy membrane of the anal fin is uniformly black or dark-pigmented. The backside of the pectoral spine is weakly barbed. This fish is rarely mottled in color.

Species Distribution Maps

HUC12 watersheds where this species has been found