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.
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, this species 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.
This species is 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).
References: (click for full references)
Bailey, R.M., and G.R. Smith. 1981. Origin and geography of the fish fauna of the Laurentian Great Lakes Basin. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 38:12:1539-1561.
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.
COSEWIC. 2009. COSEWIC assessment and update status report on the Bigmouth Buffalo Ictiobus cyprinellus, Great Lakes - Upper St. Lawrence populations and Saskatchewan - Nelson River populations, in Canada. Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. Ottawa. vii + 40 pp. (www.sararegistry.gc.ca/status/status_e.cfm).
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.
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.