Ameiurus Melas

Ictaluridae

Siluriformes

River, Lake, Backcountry

1 - 5 pounds

8" - 26"

Black Bullhead 

Also Known As: Bullhead, Catfish  

Black Bullhead (Ameiurus melas) Description

Black Bullhead Catfish are known, like other catfish, for their barbels that are long like “whiskers”. Unlike the other catfish, it has a large head and grows significantly smaller than your native catfish. However, they do have a distinct feature which is the shape of their tail. Unlike the channel catfish, they have a squared tail rather than the typical fork tail that most catfish do. They also have a slightly humped back which some of their other catfish-looking kin don’t have. A Black Bullhead also doesn’t have an underbite whereas its other catfish kin do.

Similar to their catfish kin, they do not have scales. Instead, the Black Bullhead has a more slippery feel. They are covered in slime. But that’s because the mucus is what enhances their taste receptors which are covering their bodies. Black Bullheads have cardiform teeth, which are teeth that are short, conical in shape, and pointed all while forming a row. 

Their fins are made of an array of spines and rays which they use to slash at predators or anglers. However, they can be mistaken for their brown cousin. But the main difference between a Brown Bullhead and a Black Bullhead depends on the number of spines and rays. While Brown Bullheads have around 21-24 soft rays, Black Bullheads an average of 17-21 but they have fewer “teeth” along their pectoral fins, unlike their brown cousin. Black Bullheads, as their name states, are predominantly black on their top side but their belly is somewhat a yellowish-white color. 
 

Diet and Size

Black Bullhead catfish are bottom-roving omnivores. They eat a wide selection of plants and fish. However, the diet of Black Bullhead catfish depends on their age. Adult Black Bullheads eat young insects, specifically Midge larvae. However, they are also known to eat small fish and fish eggs as well.  

Black Bullheads are significantly smaller than their Channel Catfish kin. Their average length is around 8-14 inches and weigh 1-2 lbs.
 

Interesting Facts

  • Black Bullheads hibernate.
    • During the winter times, Black Bullheads decrease their feeding frequencies. At times, they don’t f