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.

Ameiurus natalis
Ameiurus natalis
(Yellow Bullhead)
Native Transplant

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Ameiurus natalis (Lesueur, 1819)

Common name: Yellow Bullhead

Synonyms and Other Names: Ictalurus natalis

Taxonomy: available through www.itis.govITIS logo

Identification: Becker (1983); Etnier and Starnes (1993); Jenkins and Burkhead (1994); Page and Burr (2011).

Yellow Bullhead is superficially similar to Black Bullhead (Ameiurus melas) and Brown Bullhead (A. nebulosus). Yellow Bullhead can be distinguished from both species by the presence of white or yellow chin barbels (vs. dusky or black), a nearly straight caudal fin margin (vs. slightly notched), and a long, nearly straight anal fin with 24 or more rays (vs. short, rounded anal fin with 23 or fewer). Yellow Bullhead can be distinguished from Black Bullhead by the presence of saw-like teeth on the posterior edge of the pectoral spine (vs. lack of teeth). Yellow Bullhead can be distinguished from Brown Bullhead by a uniform yellow-brown color or a slight gradient from dark to bright yellow from top to bottom (vs. strong mottled coloration).

Size: 47 cm (Page and Burr 2011)

Native Range: Atlantic and Gulf Slope drainages from New York to northern Mexico, and St. Lawrence-Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins from southern Quebec west to central North Dakota, and south to Gulf (Page and Burr 1991).

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 Ameiurus natalis are found here.

StateFirst ObservedLast ObservedTotal HUCs with observations†HUCs with observations†
AZ1942202012Aguirre Valley; Bill Williams; Imperial Reservoir; Lower Lake Powell; Lower Little Colorado; Lower Salt; Lower San Pedro; Lower Santa Cruz; Lower Verde; Middle Gila; Upper Santa Cruz; Upper Verde
CA1874201413California Region; Imperial Reservoir; Los Angeles; Lost; Lower Colorado; Lower Klamath; Lower Sacramento; Middle San Joaquin-Lower Chowchilla; San Diego; Santa Maria; Southern Mojave; Upper Klamath; Upper Yuba
CO198619933Colorado Headwaters; Rio Grande Headwaters; San Luis
CT199320075Housatonic; Outlet Connecticut River; Quinnipiac; Shetucket River; Thames
ID199620155Lake Walcott; Middle Snake-Succor; North Fork Payette; Upper Snake; Upper Snake-Rock
MA198620209Ashuelot River-Connecticut River; Blackstone River; Charles; Chicopee River; Concord River; Merrimack River; Nashua River; Quinebaug River; Winnipesaukee River
MT1971201017Beaver; Big Dry; Big Muddy; Little Bighorn; Lower Clark Fork; Lower Flathead; Lower Tongue; Lower Yellowstone; Lower Yellowstone; Lower Yellowstone-Sunday; Middle Powder; O'Fallon; Rosebud; Upper Tongue; Upper Yellowstone; Upper Yellowstone-Lake Basin; Upper Yellowstone-Pompeys Pillar
NV198420221Havasu-Mohave Lakes
NH197320207Ashuelot River-Connecticut River; Black River-Connecticut River; Contoocook River; Merrimack River; Nashua River; New England; Piscataqua-Salmon Falls
NM195019916Cimarron Headwaters; Rio Grande-Albuquerque; San Francisco; Upper Canadian; Upper Gila-Mangas; Upper Pecos
NY1927201110Chemung; Chenango; Middle Delaware-Mongaup-Brodhead; Oneida; Owego-Wappasening; Raquette; Rondout; Tioga; Upper Delaware; Upper Susquehanna
OR1905201714Lower Columbia; Lower Columbia-Clatskanie; Lower Willamette; Middle Willamette; Molalla-Pudding; North Umpqua; Pacific Northwest; South Umpqua; Tualatin; Umpqua; Upper Klamath Lake; Upper Willamette; Warner Lakes; Willamette
TX196219621East Galveston Bay
UT198220204Lower Lake Powell; Lower San Juan; Lower Weber; Upper Lake Powell
VA198619942Kanawha; Upper Levisa
WA1905200519Banks Lake; Dungeness-Elwha; Franklin D. Roosevelt Lake; Lewis; Little Spokane; Lower Columbia-Clatskanie; Lower Cowlitz; Lower Crab; Lower Snake-Tucannon; Lower Spokane; Middle Columbia-Hood; Middle Columbia-Lake Wallula; Nooksack; Palouse; Strait of Georgia; Upper Columbia-Entiat; Upper Columbia-Priest Rapids; Upper Spokane; Walla Walla
WV197919792Gauley; Kanawha

Table last updated 6/22/2024

† Populations may not be currently present.

Means of Introduction: Intentionally stocked.

Status: Established in most introduced waters. Recently discovered in West Virginia (Jenkins and Burkhead 1994). First found in Connecticut in the late 1970s (Whitworth 1996). Extirpated from the Pecos drainage in New Mexico (Sublette et al. 1990).

Impact of Introduction: Introduced predatory fishes, including the Yellow Bullhead, are likely at least partially responsible for the decline of the Chiricahua leopard frog Lithobates chiricahuensis in southeastern Arizona (Rosen et al. 1995), and have been shown to reduce the abundance and diversity of native prey species in several Pacific Northwest rivers (Hughes and Herlihy 2012).

Remarks: Neither Everhart and Seaman (1971) nor Beckman (1974) included this species in the listings of Colorado fishes.

References: (click for full references)

Anonymous 2001. Oregon's Warm Water Fishing with Public Access. [online]. URL at http://www.dfw.state.or.us/ODFwhtml/FishText/WWFishing/WWFishAL.html.

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

Brown, C.J.D. 1971. Fishes of Montana. Montana State University, Bozeman, MT.

Burkhead, N.M., R.E. Jenkins, and E.G. Maurakis. 1980. New records, distribution and diagnostic characters of Virginia ictalurid catfishes with an adnexed adipose fin. Brimleyana 4:75-93.

Cooper, E.L. 1983. Fishes of Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania State University Press, University Park, PA.

Deacon, J.E., and J.E. Williams. 1984. Annotated list of the fishes of Nevada. Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington 97(1):103-118.

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

Fletcher, D. - Warmwater Fisheries Resource Manager, Washington Department of Wildlife, Olympia, WA. Response to NBS-G nonindigenous questionaire and other reports. 1992.

Hartel, K.E. 1992. Non-native fishes known from Massachusetts freshwaters. Occasional Reports of the Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University, Fish Department, Cambridge, MA. 2. September. pp. 1-9.

Hocutt, C.H., R.E. Jenkins, and J.R. Stauffer, Jr. 1986. Zoogeography of the fishes of the central Appalachians and central Atlantic Coastal Plain. 161-212 in C.H. Hocutt and E.O. Wiley, eds. The zoogeography of North American freshwater fishes. John Wiley and Sons, New York, NY.

Holton, G.D. 1990. A field guide to Montana fishes. Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks, Helena, MT.

Hughes, R.M. and A.T. Herlihy. 2012. Patterns in catch per unit effort of native prey fish and alien piscivorous fish in 7 Pacific Northwest USA rivers. Fisheries 37(5):201-211.

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

Koster, W.J. 1957. Guide to the fishes of New Mexico. University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque, NM.

Lampman, B.H. 1946. The coming of the pond fishes. Binfords and Mort, Portland, OR.

Miller, R.R., and C.H. Lowe. 1967. Part 2. Fishes of Arizona. Pages 133-151 in Lowe, C.H, ed. The vertebrates of Arizona. University of Arizona Press. Tuscon, AZ.

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. 2011. Peterson field guide to freshwater fishes of North America north of Mexico. 2nd edition. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Boston, MA.

Platania, S P. 1991. Fishes of the Rio Chama and upper Rio Grande, New Mexico, with preliminary comments on their longitudinal distribution. Southwestern Naturalist 36(2):186-193.

Rosen, P.C., C.R. Schwalbe, D.A. Parizek, Jr., P.A. Holm, and C.H. Lowe. 1995. Introduced aquatic vertebrates in the Chiricahua region: effects on declining native ranid frogs. Pages 251-261 in DeBano, L.H., P.H. Folliott, A. Ortega-Rubio, G.J. Gottfried, R.H. Hamre, and C.B. Edminster, eds. Biodiversity and management of the Madrean Archipelago: the sky islands of southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico. US Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. Fort Collins, CO.

Scarola, J. F. 1973. Freshwater fishes of New Hampshire. New Hampshire Fish and Game Department, Division of Inland and Marine Fisheries. 131 pp.

Sigler, W. F., and J.W. Sigler. 1987. Fishes of the Great Basin: A Natural History. University of Nevada Press, Reno, NV. 425 pp.

Sigler, W.F., and J.W. Sigler. 1996. Fishes of Utah. University of Utah Press, Salt Lake City, UT. 375 pp.

Smith, H. M. 1896. A review of the history and results of the attempts to acclimatize fish and other water animals in the Pacific states. Bulletin of the U.S. Fish Commission for 1895, 40:379--472.

Sublette, J.E., M.D. Hatch, and M. Sublette. 1990. The fishes of New Mexico. New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque, NM. 393 pp.

Tilmant, J.T. 1999. Management of nonindigenous aquatic fish in the U.S. National Park System. National Park Service. 50 pp.

Tyus, H.M., B.D. Burdick, R.A. Valdez, C.M. Haynes, T.A. Lytle, and C.R. Berry. 1982. Fishes of the upper Colorado basin: distribution, abundance, and status. Pages 12-70 in Miller, W.H., H.M. Tyus, and C.A. Carlson, eds. Fishes of the upper Colorado River system: present and future. Western Division, American Fisheries Society. Bethesda, MD.

Walker, P. - Colorado Division of Wildlife, Brush, CO.

Whitworth, W. R. 1996. Freshwater Fishes of Connecticut. State Geological and Natural History Survey of Connecticut, Bulletin 114.

Zuckerman, L. D., and R. J. Behnke. 1986. Introduced fishes in the San Luis Valley, Colorado. Pages 435--452 in R. H. Stroud, editor. Fish culture in fisheries management. Proceedings of a symposium on the role of fish culture in fisheries management at Lake Ozark, MO, March 31--April 3, 1985. American Fisheries Society, Bethesda, MD.

Other Resources:
FishBase Summary

Author: Fuller, P.L., and Neilson, M.E.

Revision Date: 6/28/2022

Peer Review Date: 5/29/2012

Citation Information:
Fuller, P.L., and Neilson, M.E., 2024, Ameiurus natalis (Lesueur, 1819): U.S. Geological Survey, Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL, https://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/FactSheet.aspx?speciesID=733, Revision Date: 6/28/2022, Peer Review Date: 5/29/2012, Access Date: 6/22/2024

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.


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Citation information: U.S. Geological Survey. [2024]. Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database. Gainesville, Florida. Accessed [6/22/2024].

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