Disclaimer:

The Nonindigenous Occurrences section of the NAS species profiles has a new structure. The section is now dynamically updated from the NAS database to ensure that it contains the most current and accurate information. Occurrences are summarized in Table 1, alphabetically by state, with years of earliest and most recent observations, and the tally and names of drainages where the species was observed. The table contains hyperlinks to collections tables of specimens based on the states, years, and drainages selected. References to specimens that were not obtained through sighting reports and personal communications are found through the hyperlink in the Table 1 caption or through the individual specimens linked in the collections tables.




Ictiobus cyprinellus
Ictiobus cyprinellus
(Bigmouth Buffalo)
Fishes
Native Transplant
Translate this page with Google
Français Deutsch Español Português Russian Italiano Japanese

Copyright Info
Ictiobus cyprinellus (Valenciennes in Cuvier and Valenciennes, 1844)

Common name: Bigmouth Buffalo

Synonyms and Other Names: gourd head, redmouth buffalo, buffalo fish, common buffalofish, buffalo, bernard buffalo, roundhead, brown buffalo, baldpate

Taxonomy: available through www.itis.govITIS logo

Identification: Largest member of the sucker family,deep-bodied and laterally compressed.  Long dorsal fin like other suckers but has a large oblique terminal mouth with thin sucker lips.  No barbells or spines.  Pharyngeal teeth present, but no teeth in mouth.  Gill rakers, each with many lateral projections, on both sides of the arch, those on the anterior edge of the first arch long, fine, closely spaced, at least 60 in number.  Tail moderately long, very broad, moderately forked and with pointed tips.  Easily confused with carp, but lacks the single serrated spine at the beginning of the dorsal fin that is present in carp.   Eye level with the tip of the upper jaw.  Green-gold to black with a coppery sheen.  Becker (1983); Hubbs et al. (1991); Page and Burr (1991); Etnier and Starnes (1993).

Size: 123 cm (max) 35 cm (common)

Native Range: Hudson Bay (Nelson River drainage), lower Great Lakes, and Mississippi River basins from Ontario to Saskatchewan and Montana, and south to Louisiana (Page and Burr 1991).

Occurs from Lake Erie south through Ohio and Mississippi River basins to the Tennessee River in northern Alabama, west to Arkansas, south to near the Gulf of Mexico in Louisiana, northwest through eastern Texas and Oklahoma (rare), north through Iowa and South Dakota to the Milk River in central Montana.  From Illinois in the Mississippi River drainage northwest through western Minnesota and north in the Red River into Manitoba and west into Saskatchewan.

US auto-generated map Legend USGS Logo
Alaska auto-generated map
Alaska
Hawaii auto-generated map
Hawaii
Caribbean auto-generated map
Puerto Rico &
Virgin Islands
Guam auto-generated map
Guam Saipan
Native range data for this species provided in part by NatureServe NS logo
Hydrologic Unit Codes (HUCs) Explained
Interactive maps: Point Distribution Maps

Nonindigenous Occurrences:

Table 1. States with nonindigenous occurrences, the earliest and latest observations in each state, and the tally and names of HUCs with observations†. Names and dates are hyperlinked to their relevant specimen records. The list of references for all nonindigenous occurrences of Ictiobus cyprinellus are found here.

StateYear of earliest observationYear of last observationTotal HUCs with observations†HUCs with observations†
Alabama199219921Cahaba
Arizona191820125Aqua Fria; Lower Colorado; Lower Salt; Tonto; Upper Salt
California194819761Indian Wells-Searles Valleys
Colorado201020101Middle South Platte-Sterling
Indiana196219621St. Joseph
Michigan200020152Detroit; Lake St. Clair
New York201520151Irondequoit-Ninemile
North Carolina199120094Lower Pee Dee; Rocky; Upper Catawba; Upper Yadkin
Ohio196220045Auglaize; Chautauqua-Conneaut; Grand; Lake Erie; Sandusky
South Carolina200920091Lower Pee Dee
Texas198919891Lower Angelina
Virginia196719671Mattaponi
Wisconsin196419834Lake Winnebago; Lower Fox; Ontonagon; Wolf

Table last updated 10/4/2018

† Populations may not be currently present.


Ecology: A demersal fish living near the lake bottom, Bigmouth Buffalo Inhabits main channels, pools, and backwaters of small to large rivers as well as lakes and impoundments.  It prefers water less than 5m depth (Johnson 1963).  This fish is well-adapted to reservoirs, preferring slow water and tolerant of turbidity, low oxygen and high temperatures.   

Unlike other suckers, eats plankton as well as benthos, feeding primarily on cladocera and cyclopoid copepods supplemented with midge larvae (Etnier and Starnes, 1993).   Larger adults are probably not susceptible to predators due to their body shape. 

Oviparous (Breder and Rosen 1966). Spawns in spring for a very short period (mid-May to June) at water temperatures 60-65F (15.5-18.3C) in small tributaries, marshes or flooded lake margins. Up to ~750,000 eggs per spawning female – eggs adhere to vegetation.  Will hybridize with smallmouth buffalo (Johnson and Minckley 1969).

Means of Introduction: Intentional, authorized stocking for sport fishing in Arizona in 1918 (Minckley 1973); unknown in North Carolina. It is speculated that commercial fishermen transplanted this species from Arizona to California to provide a source closer to the Los Angeles Fish Market (Moyle 1976). Escaped from an aquaculture facility in Virginia. Population in Alabama was intentionally stocked by a federal fish hatchery during studies (Mettee et al. 1996). Bigmouth Buffalo were introduced to western Lake Erie and Sandusky Bay around 1920 (Trautman 1981) by the federal government - however, they may have already occurred there. The introduction in Big Lake, Wisconsin, is probably a result of a transplant associated with fish rescue operations from the Mississippi River in the 1930s (Becker 1983). The Lake Michigan drainage records may be the result of movement through the Wisconsin-Fox Canal.

Status: Reported from Virginia, but not seen since escape. Established in all other areas with the possible exception of Yuma, Arizona and Perry Lake, Alabama. A few large individuals were collected from Perry Lake, Alabama, in 1992, however, they are probably not reproducing (Mettee et al. 1996).

Impact of Introduction: This species may compete with native minnows and suckers, as well as with juvenile sport fishes, for food and space (Moyle 1976).

Remarks: In the early 1900s all three species of buffalofishes were stocked; I. bubalus, I. cyprinellus, and I. velifer (Leach 1921, 1923). However, when the stockings were reported they were lumped together as "buffalofish" and it is not possible to determine which species were planted. Stocking of buffalofishes occurred outside their native ranges in Lake Erie in Ohio, the Pee Dee and Catawba drainages in North Carolina, and in unknown locations in Massachusetts (Leach 1921, 1923).

References: (click for full references)

Becker, G. C. 1983. Fishes of Wisconsin. University of Wisconsin Press, Madison, WI.

Breder, C.M. and D.E. Rosen.  1966.  Modes of reproduction in fishes.  T.F.H. Publications, Neptune City, New Jersey.  941 p.

Cudmore-Vokey, B. and E.J. Crossman. 2000. Checklists of the fish fauna of the Laurentian Great Lakes and their connecting channels. Can. MS Rpt. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 2500: v + 39p.

Etnier, D. A., and W. C. Starnes. 1993. The fishes of Tennessee. University of Tennessee Press, Knoxville, TN.

Evans, W. A. 1950. Notes on the occurrence of the bigmouth buffalo in southern California. California Fish and Game 36(3):332-333.

Hocutt, C.H. and E.O. Wiley.  1986.  The Zoogeography of North American Freshwater Fishes.

Hubbs, C., R. J. Edwards, and G. P. Garrett. 1991. An annotated checklist of freshwater fishes of Texas, with key to identification of species. Texas Journal of Science, Supplement 43(4):1--56.

Hubbs, C.L. and K.F. Lagler.  2004.  Fishes of the Great Lakes region.  Revised Edition.  University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI.

Jenkins, R. E., and N. M. Burkhead. 1994. Freshwater fishes of Virginia. American Fisheries Society, Bethesda, MD.

Johnson, D.W. and W.L. Minckley.  1969.  Natural hybridization in buffalofishes, Genus Iciobus.  Copeia Vol. 1 pp 198-200. 

Johnson, R.P. 1963.  Studies on the life history and ecology of the bigmouth buffalo, Ictiobus cyprinellus (Valenciennes). Journal of the Fisheries Research Board of Canada 20(6)1397-1429.

Mathews, W. J., and F. R. Gelwick.  1990.  Fishes of Crutcho Creek and the North Canadian River in central Oklahoma: effects of urbanization.  Southwestern Naturalist 35(4): 403-410.

Menhinick, E. F. 1991. The freshwater fishes of North Carolina. North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission. 227 pp.

Mettee, M. F., P. E. O'Neil, and J. M. Pierson. 1996. Fishes of Alabama and the Mobile Basin. Oxmoor House, Inc. Birmingham, AL. 820 pp.

Minckley, W. L. 1973. Fishes of Arizona. Arizona Fish and Game Department. Sims Printing Company, Inc., Phoenix, AZ.

Moyle, P. B. 1976. Inland fishes of California. University of California Press, Berkeley, CA.

Page, L. M., and B. M. Burr. 1991. A field guide to freshwater fishes of North America north of Mexico. The Peterson Field Guide Series, volume 42. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, MA.

Rohde, F. C., R. G. Arndt, J. W. Foltz, and J. M. Quattro.  2009.  Freshwater Fishes of South Carolina.  University of South Carolina Press, Columbia, SC. 430 pp.

Scott, W.B. and E.J. Crossman.  1998.  Freshwater Fishes of Canada.  Galt House Publications, Ltd. Oakville, Ontario, Canada.

Trautman, M. 1981 Fishes of Ohio.

Walker P. G.  2010.  Pers Comm.  Colorado DNR - Division of Wildlife.

Other Resources:
FishBase Summary

Author: Fuller, P., and Rochelle Sturtevant

Revision Date: 12/15/2017

Peer Review Date: 4/1/2016

Citation Information:
Fuller, P., and Rochelle Sturtevant, 2018, Ictiobus cyprinellus (Valenciennes in Cuvier and Valenciennes, 1844): U.S. Geological Survey, Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL, https://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/FactSheet.aspx?speciesID=362, Revision Date: 12/15/2017, Peer Review Date: 4/1/2016, Access Date: 10/20/2018

This information is preliminary or provisional and is subject to revision. It is being provided to meet the need for timely best science. The information has not received final approval by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and is provided on the condition that neither the USGS nor the U.S. Government shall be held liable for any damages resulting from the authorized or unauthorized use of the information.

Accessibility FOIA Privacy Policies and Notices

Take Pride in America logoU.S. Department of the Interior | U.S. Geological Survey
URL: https://nas.er.usgs.gov
Page Contact Information: Pam Fuller - NAS Program (pfuller@usgs.gov)
Page Last Modified: Tuesday, October 02, 2018

Disclaimer:

The data represented on this site vary in accuracy, scale, completeness, extent of coverage and origin. It is the user's responsibility to use these data consistent with their intended purpose and within stated limitations. We highly recommend reviewing metadata files prior to interpreting these data.

Citation information: U.S. Geological Survey. [2018]. Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database. Gainesville, Florida. Accessed [10/20/2018].

Contact us if you are using data from this site for a publication to make sure the data are being used appropriately and for potential co-authorship if warranted. For queries involving fish, please contact Pam Fuller. For queries involving invertebrates, contact Amy Benson.