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Fish

 

Catfishes

Brown bullhead, Ameiurus nebulosus.
Brown bullhead,
Ameiurus nebulosus.

Class: Bony fish
Order: Catfish
Family: North American catfishes

Species found in the Rideau River:
Brown bullhead, tadpole madtom

Characteristics of the family:
Catfishes have sensory barbels, or "whiskers", around the mouth. They do not have any scales. The pectoral fins have a single spine along the front edge.

Interesting facts:
The tiny tadpole madtom is known among anglers because of its nasty sting. The fish produces a stinging poison, used to immobilize potential predators such as large fish or gartersnakes.


Representative species: Brown bullhead
Description These fish have a black to yellow-brown back with a yellowish or white belly. Brown bullheads have eight sensory barbels around the mouth and do not have any scales. The pectoral spine is saw-edged. The tail fin is square with only a very slight fork.
Size 20 cm to 35 cm
Distribution Range east of Saskatchewan throughout Canada and the United States.
Habitat Most catfishes generally live in warm-water streams, ponds, and lakes with muddy bottoms. Catfishes can withstand water with low oxygen levels and considerable pollution. Brown bullheads like vegetated shallows over sand, rock, mud, or silt, in clear to turbid water.
Food Omnivorous bottom feeders, brown bullheads eat insect larvae, small fishes, fish eggs, molluscs, carrion, plants.
Life cycle Spawning occurs in late June. Parents build a nest close to the shore in shelter of logs, rocks, vegetation, holes or burrows. They guard their young for several weeks after hatching.

 

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A Project of the Canadian Museum of Nature
 Images: Smithsonian Institution, NMNH, Division of Fishes