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Spotted Bullhead

SPOTTED BULLHEAD

SCIENTIFIC NAME: Ameiurus serracanthus

CHARACTERISTICS: The smallest of the Ameiurus species in Alabama, the spotted bullhead is the only one marked with small gray-white spots on a dark gray or tan body. Endemic to the Chattahoochee River system, the spotted bullhead and snail bullhead, A. brunneus, are the only two catfish species in Alabama that have prominent black margins along the edges of their lighter dorsal, anal, and caudal fins. The rounded anal fin on the spotted bullhead contains 19 to 23 rays. The caudal fin margin is essentially straight or slightly notched. Each pectoral spine has 15 to 18 large teeth along its posterior edge.

ADULT SIZE: 7 to 9 in (178 to 226 mm)

DISTRIBUTION: Spotted bullheads are limited to the Chattahoochee River drainage in Alabama. Although they appear to be rare in state waters, their limited distribution may be due to insufficient sampling of preferred habitats using large nets and boat electrofishing gear.

HABITAT AND BIOLOGY: Yerger and Relyea (1968) provide the description and most of the data on this species’ habitat and reproduction. They collected spotted bullheads in slow to moderate currents over the sand and rock substrates of large streams and rivers. Because of the species’ apparent preference for deep water, most of the individuals included in the report had been collected with large nets, slat boxes, and ichthyocides. Using boat electrofishing gear, we collected spotted bullheads around submerged treetops in the lower reaches of Uchee Creek in Russell County. Uchee Creek was approximately 50 feet wide there, the current was moderate, and substrates consisted mostly of sand and clay. In the main channel of the Chattahoochee River in Houston County, we collected specimens around logs and treetops and along sustaining walls below Columbia Lock and Dam. Our habitat observations were similar to those reported by Yerger and Relyea.

ORIGINAL DESCRIPTION: Yerger and Relyea described the spotted bullhead in 1968.

ETYMOLOGY:
Ameiurus means unforked caudal fin.
Serracanthus means saw-edged spine.

The copyrighted information above is from Fishes of Alabama and the Mobile Basin.

Note: In Alabama, it is illegal to stock or move any fish, mussel, snail or crayfish to any public water without a permit.


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