Photo by L. M. Page
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Ameiurus natalis (Lesueur 1819)
Identification: The Yellow Bullhead has white or yellow chin barbels throughout most of its range (dusky brown in peninsular Florida). The anal fin is long and fairly straight in outline, with 24-27 rays. The rays at the front of the anal fin are slightly longer than those at the rear. There are 5-8 large teeth on the rear of the pectoral spine. The caudal fin edge is rounded or truncate (almost straight). The body is yellow-olive to slate-black above, with a lighter, yellow-olive side and w hite to bright yellow below. The fins are dusky, and the anal fin commonly has a dusky stripe in the middle. The dorsal fin base lacks the dark blotch found in some other species of Ameiurus. The first gill arch has 13-15 rackers. To 18 1/4 in. (47 cm) total length.
Range: The native range of the Yellow Bullhead is Atlantic and Gulf Slope drainages from New York to northern Mexico, and the St. Lawrence-Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins from southern Quebec west to central North Dakota and south to the Gulf of Mexico. Yellow Bullheads are introduced into many other regions of the United States. The species is common, especially in the center of its range.
Habitat: Yellow Bullheads are found in slow current over soft substrates in pools and backwaters of creeks and small to large rivers, and in oxbows, ponds, and lakes.
Similar species: The Black Bullhead, A. melas, has dusky or black chin barbels, a rounded anal fin, and fewer anal rays (19-23) and rakers on the first gill arch (15-21). The Brown Bullhead, A. nebulosus, usually is mottled on the side of the body, has dusky or black chin barbels and fewer anal rays (19-23).