Florida Museum of Natural History


Flat Bullhead

Ameiurus platycephalus
Photo by R. E. Jenkins


With 49 species, Ictaluridae, the Bullhead Catfish family is the largest family of freshwater fishes endemic to North America. Bullhead catfishes are easy to recognize from other North American freshwater fishes. They have no scales, 4 pairs of barbels ("whiskers") around the mouth, an adipose fin, stout spines at the dorsal and pectoral fin origins (except some cave species), and pelvic fins on the abdomen. Members of this family are active mainly at night in contrast to the other large groups of North American freshwater fishes - minnows, darters, and suckers -- which are primarily active during daylight. Glandular cells in the skin surrounding the fin spines of some species, especially madtoms, contain venom, and a person can be "stung" by a catfish. Reaction to the sting of a madtom varies with the individual but is generally considered equivalent to a bee sting.

The Flathead and Blue Catfishes, the giants of the family at about 132 lb. (60 kg) and over 5 ft. (1.5 m) in length, and several other large species, especially the widely marketed Channel Catfish, are of major commercial, angling, and aquacultural value.

Ictalurids are organized into 7 genera:
      Ictalurus, with 7 species, including the familiar Channel Catfish.
      Ameiurus, with 7 species including the Yellow, Black and Brown Bullheads.
      Noturus, containing 30 small species known as madtoms.
      Pylodictis, containing only the Flathead Catfish.
      Satan and Trogloglanis, each containing 1 species of cave-inhabiting species in Texas.
      Prietella, containing 2 species of cave-inhabiting species in Mexico.


Genus & SpeciesCommon Name
Ameiurus brunneus Snail Bullhead
Ameiurus catus White Catfish
Ameiurus melas Black Bullhead
Ameiurus natalis Yellow Bullhead
Ameiurus nebulosus Brown Bullhead
Ameiurus platycephalus Flat Bullhead
Ameiurus serracanthus Spotted Bullhead
Ictalurus balsanus Balsas catfish
Ictalurus dugesii Lerma Catfish
Ictalurus furcatus Blue Catfish
Ictalurus lupus Headwater Catfish
Ictalurus mexicanus Rio Verde Catfish
Ictalurus pricei Yaqui Catfish
Ictalurus punctatus Channel Catfish
Noturus albater Ozark Madtom
Noturus baileyi Smoky Madtom
Noturus crypticus Chucky Madtom
Noturus elegans Elegant Madtom
Noturus eleutherus Mountain Madtom
Noturus exilis Slender Madtom
Noturus fasciatus Saddled Madtom
Noturus flavater Checkered Madtom
Noturus flavipinnis Yellowfin Madtom
Noturus flavus Stonecat
Noturus funebris Black Madtom
Genus & SpeciesCommon Name
Noturus furiosus Carolina Madtom
Noturus gilberti Orangefin Madtom
Noturus gladiator Piebald Madtom
Noturus gyrinus Tadpole Madtom
Noturus hildebrandi Least Madtom
Noturus insignis Margined Madtom
Noturus lachneri Ouachita Madtom
Noturus leptacanthus Speckled Madtom
Noturus maydeni Black River Madtom
Noturus miurus Brindled Madtom
Noturus munitus Frecklebelly Madtom
Noturus nocturnus Freckled Madtom
Noturus phaeus Brown Madtom
Noturus placidus Neosho Madtom
Noturus species Broadtail Madtom
Noturus stanauli Pygmy Madtom
Noturus stigmosus Northern Madtom
Noturus taylori Caddo Madtom
Noturus trautmani Scioto Madtom
Prietella lundbergi Phantom Blindcat
Prietella phreatophila Mexican Blindcat
Pylodictis olivaris Flathead Catfish
Satan eurystomus Widemouth Blindcat
Trogloglanis pattersoni Toothless Blindcat