Yellow Bullhead - Ameiurus natalis

Yellow Bullhead - Photo credit: Karsten Hartel

Habitat requirements and life history: The yellow bullhead is an introduced catfish species nearly identical in size and habits to the brown bullhead or "horned pout." It inhabits warm, shallow water in clear lakes, ponds, rivers and impoundments. Yellow bullhead tolerate pollution better than most catfishes. Like other catfish, they find food using the scent-detecting cells embedded in their skins, particularly in their barbels or "whiskers," and around their mouths. They usually feed on the bottom at night and are inactive during the day. They eat plant matter, crayfishes, aquatic insects, mollusks, and fishes. The yellow bullhead spawn in the spring and summer. A pair excavates a nest in shallow water among weeds, logs or other shelter, or burrow several feet into a stream bank. The eggs are laid and fertilized. After the eggs hatch, the male guards the larvae and juveniles until they are about two inches long and ready to fend for themselves. (Sources: Freshwater Fishes of of the Carolinas, Virginia, Maryland, & Delaware, and Massachusetts Wildlife, No. 2, 2000, Special Fishing Issue)

Total length: 8-12 inches
Pollution tolerance (US EPA): Tolerant
Classification: Macrohabitat generalist

Number of fish found during 1954 & 2001 Fish Surveys*

Location No. of Fish 1954 No. of Fish 2001
Assabet River   89
Assabet Brook   37
Elizabeth Brook   3
Fort Meadow Brook   6
Hop Brook   2
Nashoba Brook 32  
Total 32 137

*Data sources:
DFW. 2001. Assabet Watershed Fish Survey. Mass. Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MassWildlife), Westborough, MA.

Schlotterbeck, L.C. and W.A. Tompkins. 1954. "A Fisheries Investigation of the Merrimack and Ipswich River Drainages." Bureau of Wildlife Research and Management, Mass. Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, Westborough, MA.