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 nebulosus
Ameiurus nebulosus
(Brown Bullhead)
Native Transplant

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Ameiurus nebulosus (Lesueur, 1819)

Common name: Brown Bullhead

Synonyms and Other Names: Ictalurus nebulosus

Taxonomy: available through www.itis.govITIS logo

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

Brown Bullhead is superficially similar to both Yellow Bullhead (A. natalis) and Black Bullhead (A. melas). Brown Bullhead can be distinguished from Yellow Bullhead by the presence of dark colored chin barbels (vs. white or yellow barbels), a slightly notched caudal fin margin (vs. straight caudal fin margin), and a rounded, short anal fin with 22-23 fin rays (vs. mostly straight anal fin with 24-27 rays). Brown Bullhead can be distinguished from Black Bullhead by the presence of 5-8 large saw-like teeth on the rear of the pectoral spine (vs. teeth absent), strong brown/black mottling or spotting present (vs. a uniform color with no mottling on body), barbel at the corner of the mouth reaching past the base of the pectoral fin (vs. not reaching to pectoral fin base).

Size: Up to 50 cm TL (Page and Burr 2011)

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).

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 nebulosus are found here.

StateFirst ObservedLast ObservedTotal HUCs with observations†HUCs with observations†
AL197919792Lower Black Warrior; Middle Tombigbee-Chickasaw
AZ191020043Havasu-Mohave Lakes; Lower Colorado Region; Lower Salt
AR1950200919Bayou Bartholomew; Bayou Macon; Bodcau Bayou; Fourche La Fave; Lake Conway-Point Remove; Little Missouri; Lower Arkansas-Maumelle; Lower Black; Lower Little Arkansas, Oklahoma; Lower Ouachita-Bayou De Loutre; Lower Ouachita-Smackover; Lower Saline; Lower Sulpher; McKinney-Posten Bayous; Mountain Fork; Ouachita Headwaters; Petit Jean; Poteau; Upper Ouachita
CA1874201227California Region; Coyote; Goose Lake; Lower Colorado; Lower Eel; Lower Klamath; Lower Pit; Lower Sacramento; Middle San Joaquin-Lower Chowchilla; Mojave; Monterey Bay; Owens Lake; Pajaro; Salinas; San Diego; San Joaquin; San Joaquin Delta; Santa Barbara Coastal; Santa Clara; Smith; Suisun Bay; Tulare-Buena Vista Lakes; Upper Cache; Upper Klamath; Upper Pit; Upper Sacramento; Upper Yuba
CO195219981South Platte
ID191020039Kootenai; Lower Bear; North Fork Payette; Pacific Northwest Region; Palouse; Pend Oreille Lake; Spokane; St. Joe; Upper Snake-Rock
KS195519973Lower Cottonwood; Lower Marais Des Cygnes; Marmaton
KY198619865Licking; Lower Kentucky; Rolling Fork; Salt; South Fork Kentucky
MO197519751Lower Missouri-Moreau
NE196319631Lower Elkhorn
NV1877200210Carson; Carson Desert; Central Lahontan; Lower Humboldt; Middle Carson; Middle Humboldt; Muddy; Pyramid-Winnemucca Lakes; Smoke Creek Desert; Truckee
NH197319731Upper Androscoggin River
NC200820131Upper New
OK195520095Lower Little Arkansas, Oklahoma; Middle Washita; Mountain Fork; Pecan-Waterhole; Upper Little
OR1880201359Alsea; Applegate; Brownlee Reservoir; Bully; Clackamas; Coast Fork Willamette; Coos; Coquille; Goose Lake; Illinois; Jordan; Klamath; Lake Abert; Little Deschutes; Lost; Lower Columbia; Lower Columbia-Clatskanie; Lower Columbia-Sandy; Lower Deschutes; Lower John Day; Lower Malheur; Lower Owyhee; Lower Rogue; Lower Willamette; Middle Columbia-Hood; Middle Columbia-Lake Wallula; Middle Fork Willamette; Middle Rogue; Middle Willamette; Molalla-Pudding; Necanicum; North Santiam; North Umpqua; Pacific Northwest; Pacific Northwest Region; Powder; Siletz-Yaquina; Siltcoos; Silvies; Siuslaw; Sixes; South Umpqua; Sprague; Tualatin; Umatilla; Umpqua; Upper Crooked; Upper Deschutes; Upper Grande Ronde; Upper Klamath; Upper Klamath Lake; Upper Malheur; Upper Rogue; Upper Willamette; Wallowa; Warner Lakes; Willow; Wilson-Trusk-Nestuccu; Yamhill
PR191520075Cibuco-Guajataca; Culebrinas-Guanajibo; Eastern Puerto Rico; Puerto Rico; Southern Puerto Rico
TX195220132Caddo Lake; Middle Guadalupe
VA197120106French Broad-Holston; Kanawha; Middle New; North Fork Holston; Powell; Upper New
WA1880201948Banks Lake; Colville; Deschutes; Duwamish; Hangman; Hood Canal; Kettle; Klickitat; Lake Washington; Lewis; Little Spokane; Lower Chehalis; Lower Columbia; Lower Columbia-Clatskanie; Lower Columbia-Sandy; Lower Cowlitz; Lower Crab; Lower Skagit; Lower Snake; Lower Spokane; Lower Yakima; Methow; Middle Columbia-Hood; Middle Columbia-Lake Wallula; Nisqually; Nooksack; Okanogan; Pacific Northwest Region; Palouse; Pend Oreille; Puget Sound; Puyallup; San Juan Islands; Sauk; Skokomish; Skykomish; Snohomish; Snoqualmie; Stillaguamish; Strait of Georgia; Upper Chehalis; Upper Columbia-Entiat; Upper Columbia-Priest Rapids; Upper Crab; Upper Spokane; Walla Walla; Wenatchee; Willapa Bay
WV199419952Coal; Middle New

Table last updated 6/12/2024

† Populations may not be currently present.

* HUCs are not listed for states where the observation(s) cannot be approximated to a HUC (e.g. state centroids or Canadian provinces).

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 http://www.dfw.state.or.us/ODFwhtml/FishText/WWFishing/WWFishAL.html.

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., eds. 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 http://ice.ucdavis.edu/aquadiv/fishcovs/fishmaps.html.

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.

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. 1993. 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: 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 nebulosus (Lesueur, 1819): U.S. Geological Survey, Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL, https://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/FactSheet.aspx?speciesID=734, Revision Date: 6/28/2022, Peer Review Date: 5/29/2012, Access Date: 6/12/2024

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 [6/12/2024].

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