Ameiurus nebulosus
Ameiurus nebulosus
(Brown Bullhead)
Native Transplant
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Ameiurus nebulosus (Lesueur, 1819)

Common name: Brown Bullhead

Taxonomy: available through www.itis.govITIS logo

Identification: Becker (1983); Page and Burr (1991); Etnier and Starnes (1993); Jenkins and Burkhead (1994). Another commonly used name is Ictalurus nebulosus.

Size: 50 cm.

Native Range: Atlantic and Gulf Slope drainages from Nova Scotia and New Brunswick to Mobile Bay, Alabama, and St. Lawrence-Great Lakes, Hudson Bay, and Mississippi River basins from Quebec west to southeastern Saskatchewan, and south to Louisiana (Page and Burr 1991). This species may have been originally absent from all or part of the Gulf Coast west of the Apalachicola and east of the Mississippi River (Gilbert, personal communication). This speculation is based on the very spotted distribution of the species both in panhandle Florida and Alabama and the fact that it appears to be largely confined to reservoirs in Alabama. In its native range in peninsular Florida it is found primarily in larger bodies of water; whereas, on the Atlantic Slope in Florida, this species is found in both streams and sloughs (Gilbert, personal communication).

US auto-generated map Legend USGS Logo
Alaska auto-generated map
Hawaii auto-generated map
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
Interactive maps: Point Distribution Maps

Nonindigenous Occurrences: The Brown Bullhead has been introduced into the lower Tombigbee in Alabama (Lee et al. 1980 et seq.; Mettee et al. 1996); lower Colorado River of Arizona (Miller and Lowe 1967; Minckley 1973); several impoundments in Arkansas (Robison and Buchanan 1988); numerous drainages in California (Smith 1896; Shebley 1917; Neale 1931; Lampman 1946; Moyle 1976a; Swift et al. 1993; Dill and Cordone 1997; Moyle and Randall 1999; Tilmant 1999; Sommer et al. 2001; Matern et al. 2002; Harvey 2002); the South Platte drainage (Propst and Carlson 1986; Walker 1993; Rasmussen 1998), and possibly other locations in Colorado (Everhart and Seaman 1971; Beckman 1974); the islands of Hawaii and Oahu in Hawaii (Cobb 1902; Jordan and Evermann 1902, 1905; Brock 1960; Maciolek 1984); the Snake, Kootenai, Palouse, Spokane, Pend Orielle, Clearwater, and Bear drainages in Idaho (Linder 1963; Simpson and Wallace 1978; Idaho Fish and Game 1990); fee-fishing lakes in eastern Kansas, including Cherokee, Crawford and Linn counties (Cross 1967; Cross et al. 1986; Cross and Collins 1995); the Licking, Rolling Fork, Salt, and Kentucky drainages in Kentucky (Burr and Warren 1986); Bayou Lafourche in the Boeuf drainage in Louisiana (Douglas 1974); Acadia National Park in Maine (Tilmant 1999); in sites in the lower Missouri drainage of Missouri including the Chariton-Nishnabotna drainage (Pflieger 1971, 1975; Cross et al. 1986) and Truman Reservoir on the Osage River (Pflieger 1997); private ponds in eastern Nebraska (Jones 1963; Cross et al. 1986) (Morris et al. (1974) show two locations along the lower Platte River); the Carson, Truckee, Humboldt, and Muddy drainages in Nevada (Miller and Alcorn 1946; La Rivers 1962; Hubbs et al. 1974; Deacon and Williams 1984; Sigler and Sigler 1987, Vinyard 2001); possibly the Androscoggin drainage in New Hampshire (Scarola 1973); non-specific in New Mexico (Koster 1957; Sublette et al. 1990); southern Ohio (Trautman 1981); throughout McCurtain county Oklahoma (Hall 1956); numerous drainages in Oregon including the Willamette, Klamath, Rogue, Columbia, Deschutes, Sandy, and Coos drainages (Smith 1896; Chapman 1942; Lampman 1946; Bond 1973, 1994; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 1993e; Logan et al. 1996; Anonymous 2001; Ridler 2004); the New River below Claytor Lake, North Fork Holston, and impoundments on the Powell River, Virginia (Burkhead et al. 1980; Jenkins and Burkhead 1994); Silver Lake near Castlerock (Lampman 1946), established in Sprague Lake near Spokane and Conboy Lake National Wildlife Refuge, and Chehalis and Similkameen drainages in Washington (Beecher and Fernau 1982; Smith 1896; Chapman 1942; Wydoski and Whitney 1979; Fletcher, personal communication;Four Seasons Campground and Resort 2004; USFWS 2005); and the New River, West Virginia (Burkhead et al. 1980; Jenkins and Burkhead 1994; Stauffer et al. 1995).

Collected in Puerto Rico (Lee 1983).

Means of Introduction: Intentionally stocked for food and sport. Pflieger (1997) suspected that Brown Bullheads observed in Truman Reservoir, Missouri, may have spread from populations introduced into upstream sites in Kansas.

Status: Generally established in most waters where introduced. Reported in Virginia and West Virginia. Extirpated in New Mexico (Sublette et al. 1990). It was reportedly stocked in 1893 in Hawaii but the fish failed to survive (Jordan and Evermann 1905; Brock 1960).

Impact of Introduction: Nonnative predators, including Brown Bullhead, have been shown to reduce the abundance and diversity of native prey species in several Pacific Northwest rivers (Hughes and Herlihy 2012).

Remarks: The Brown Bullhead was among the first fish introduced to the West Coast, as early as 1874 (Smith 1896). Early accounts of "bullhead" or "hornpout" introductions in the West referred to this species (Dill and Cordone 1997). Stauffer et al. (1995) listed this species as native but possibly introduced to the Kanawha drainage above the falls (New). Pflieger (1997) indicated that Brown Bullhead had been stocked in ponds in various parts of Missouri in the past, but the status of these stockings is not known. He also stated that some reports of a bullhead species may be based on misidentifications based on the fact that collectors are often unable to correctly distinguish the different species in this closely related group of catfishes.

References: (click for full references)

Anonymous 2001. Oregon's Warm Water Fishing with Public Access. [online]. URL at

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

Beecher, H. A. and R. F. Fernau. 1982. Fishes of Oxbow Lakes of Washington. Northwest Science. 57(2): 125-131.

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.

Burr, B. M., and M. L. Warren, Jr. 1986. A distributional atlas of Kentucky fishes. Kentucky Nature Preserves Commission Scientific and Technical Series 4. 398 pp.

Cross, F. B. 1967. Handbook of Fishes of Kansas. State Biological Survey and University of Kansas Museum of Natural History, Miscellaneous Publication 45, Topeka, KS.

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.

Douglas, N. H. 1974. Freshwater fishes of Louisiana. Claitor's Publishing Division, Baton Rouge, LA.

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

Everhart, W. H., and W. R. Seaman. 1971. Fishes of Colorado. Colorado Game, Fish and Parks Division, Denver, CO. 75 pp.

Hall, G.E. 1956. Additions to the fish fauna of Oklahoma with a summary of introduced species. The Southwestern Naturalist. 1(1): 16-26.

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.

Idaho Fish and Game. 1990. Fisheries Management Plan 1991--1995. Appendix I -- A list of Idaho fishes and their distribution by drainage. Idaho Fish and Game.

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

Jones, D. J. 1963. A history of Nebraska's fisheries resources. Dingell-Hohnson Federal Aid in Fish Restoration Project F-4-R Publication. Nebraska Game, Forestation and Parks Commission.

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.

La Rivers, I. 1962. Fishes and fisheries of Nevada. Nevada State Print Office, Carson City, NV.

Linder, A. D. 1963. Idaho's alien fishes. Tebiwa 6(2):12--15.

Logan, D., E.L. Bibles, and D.F. Markle. 1996. Recent collections of continental exotic aquarium fishes in Oregon and thermal tolerance of Misgurnus anguillicaudatus and Piaractus brachypomus. California Fish and Game. 82(2): 66-80.

Maciolek, J. A. 1984. Exotic fishes in Hawaii and other islands of Oceania. Pages 131--161 in W. R. Courtenay, Jr., and J. R. Stauffer, Jr., editors. Distribution, biology, and management of exotic fishes. The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, MD.

Matern, S.A., P.B. Moyle, and L.C. Pierce. 2002. Native and alien fishes in a California estuarine marsh: twenty-one years of changing assemblages. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society. 131: 797-816.

Miller, R. R., and J. R. Alcorn. 1946. The introduced fishes of Nevada, with a history of their introduction. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 73:173--193.

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

Moyle, P.B. and J. Randall. 1999. Distribution maps of fishes in California. [on-line] Available URL at

Moyle, P. B. 1976a. 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.

Pflieger, W. L. 1975. The fishes of Missouri. Missouri Department of Conservation, Jefferson City, MO. 343 pp.

Rasmussen, J.L. 1998. Aquatic nuisance species of the Mississippi River basin. 60th Midwest Fish and Wildlife Conference, Aquatic Nuisance Species Symposium, Dec. 7, 1998, Cincinnati, OH.

Robison, H. W., and T. M. Buchanan. 1988. Fishes of Arkansas. University of Arkansas Press, Fayetteville, AR.

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

Shebley, W. H. 1917. History of the introduction of food and game fishes into the waters of California. California Fish and Game 3(1):3-10.

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

Simpson, J., and R. Wallace. 1978. Fishes of Idaho. University of Idaho Press, Moscow, ID.

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.

Sommer, T, B. Harrell, M. Nobriga, R. Brown, P. Moyle, W. Kimmerer, and L. Schemel. 2001. California's Yolo Bypass: Evidence that flood control can be compatible with fisheries, wetlands, wildlife, and agriculture. Fisheries. American Fisheries Society. 26 (8): 6-16.

Stauffer, J. R., Jr., J. M. Boltz, and L. R. White. 1995. The fishes of West Virginia. West Virginia Department of Natural Resources. Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA. 389 pp.

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.

Swift, C. C., T. R. Haglund, M. Ruiz, and R. N. Fisher. 1993. The status and distribution of the freshwater fishes of southern California. Bulletin of the Southern California Academy of Science 92(3):101--167.

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

Trautman, M. B. 1981. The fishes of Ohio. Ohio State University Press, Columbus, OH.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 1993e. Lost River (Deltistes luxatus) and shortnose (Chamistes brevirostris) sucker recovery plan. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Portland, OR. 108 pp.

Wydoski, R. S., and R. R. Whitney. 1979. Inland fishes of Washington. University of Washington Press, Seattle, WA.

FishBase Summary

Author: Pam Fuller, and Matt Neilson

Revision Date: 5/29/2012

Peer Review Date: 4/1/2016

Citation Information:
Pam Fuller, and Matt Neilson, 2018, Ameiurus nebulosus (Lesueur, 1819): U.S. Geological Survey, Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL,, Revision Date: 5/29/2012, Peer Review Date: 4/1/2016, Access Date: 3/20/2018

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.

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Citation information: U.S. Geological Survey. [2018]. Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database. Gainesville, Florida. Accessed [3/20/2018].

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