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.

Amia calva
Amia calva
Native Transplant

Copyright Info
Amia calva Linnaeus, 1766

Common name: Bowfin

Synonyms and Other Names: Mudfish, Dogfish 

Taxonomy: available through www.itis.govITIS logo

Identification: Becker (1983); Page and Burr (1991); Jenkins and Burkhead (1994).

Size: Maximum size: 109 cm.

Native Range: Eastern North America. St. Lawrence-Great Lakes (including Georgian Bay and lakes Nipissing and Simcoe, Ontario) and Mississippi River Basin drainages from Quebec to northern Minnesota and south to the Gulf of Mexico; Atlantic and Gulf Coastal Plain from the Susquehanna River drainage in southeastern Pennsylvania to the Colorado River in Texas (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 Amia calva are found here.

StateFirst ObservedLast ObservedTotal HUCs with observations†HUCs with observations†
CT193520223Housatonic; New England Region; Outlet Connecticut River
DE198120053Brandywine-Christina; Chincoteague; Upper Chesapeake
IA198019801Little Sioux
KS196520094Independence-Sugar; Lower Kansas, Kansas; Lower Marais Des Cygnes; Upper Neosho
KY198620094Licking; Little Sandy; Lower Kentucky; Salt
MD197119813Chester-Sassafras; Gunpowder-Patapsco; Upper Chesapeake
MA197420106Ashuelot River-Connecticut River; Blackstone River; Housatonic; Lower Connecticut; Merrimack River; Narragansett
MN198419841Lake of the Woods
MO196619712Lower Missouri-Crooked; Lower Missouri-Moreau
NJ197820164Crosswicks-Neshaminy; Lower Delaware; Lower Hudson; Mid-Atlantic Region
NY194120088East Branch Delaware; Hudson-Hoosic; Hudson-Wappinger; Lower Hudson; Middle Delaware-Mongaup-Brodhead; Sandy Hook-Staten Island; Southern Long Island; Upper Delaware
NC198019915South Fork Catawba; Upper Catawba; Upper Little Tennessee; Upper Tennessee; Upper Yadkin
OH196220127Little Miami; Lower Great Miami, Indiana, Ohio; Lower Scioto; Muskingum; Tuscarawas; Upper Scioto; Walhonding
OK198019802Lower Neosho; Poteau
PA196119834Lower Susquehanna; Upper Susquehanna-Lackawanna; Upper West Branch Susquehanna; Youghiogheny
VA195220104Kanawha; Middle New; Upper New; Upper Roanoke
WV199419941South Branch Potomac
WI198320082Peshtigo; Wolf

Table last updated 4/23/2024

† 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: Past Bowfin introductions have been attributed mainly to intentional stockings in ponds, lakes, and rivers (Jenkins and Burkhead 1994). Jenkins and Burkhead (1994) provided detailed background information on Bowfin introductions into Virginia and several other eastern states. They reported that Bowfin stocking was apparently popular 20-40 years ago. The Pennsylvania Fish Commission stocked Bowfin in two lakes mentioned above (Denoncourt et al. 1975a). Bowfin were introduced to the Gunpowder River in Maryland in 1971 when stocked ponds overflowed (Pearson and Ward 1972). They were also intentionally stocked in ponds in northern and western Maryland in the 1960s (Pearson and Ward 1972). Many of the original introductions into Connecticut were illegal stockings and were eradicated (Whitworth 1996). The Kansas report is of a single fish stocked accidentally into a fee-fishing pond with other fishes taken from Minnesota or northwestern Iowa (Cross and Collins 1995). In Wisconsin, Bowfin may have been stocked as part of the fish rescue operations from the Mississippi River backwaters in the 1930s, and/or it may have gained access to the Lake Michigan drainage via the Wisconsin-Fox Canal (Becker 1983). Bowfin have been intentionally stocked in private lakes in Missouri and records from the Missouri River in this state may be the result of escapes from these lakes (Pflieger 1971, 1975).

Status: This species has been introduced into or reported in Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin; it is probably established in most areas of the states into which it has been introduced. Not established in Kansas; the report is of a single fish.

Impact of Introduction: The impacts of this species are currently unknown, as no studies have been done to determine how it has affected ecosystems in the invaded range. The absence of data does not equate to lack of effects. It does, however, mean that research is required to evaluate effects before conclusions can be made.

Remarks: Burr and Warren (1986) reported that Kentucky records of this species from east of the Green River represent waif and/or probable introductions. Pflieger (1978) reported that Missouri River records resulted from Bowfin escapes from privately stocked lakes; however, Burgess and Gilbert (in Lee et al. 1980 et seq.) viewed these records as representing natural occurrences. Although Bowfin are voracious, piscivorous predators, they will consume virtually any animal small enough to eat (Lee et al. 1980 et seq.). Consequently, introduced Bowfin pose a potential threat to native fishes and their prey.

References: (click for full references)

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.

Denoncourt, R. F., T. B. Robbins, and R. Hesser. 1975a. Recent introductions and reintroductions to the Pennsylvania fish fauna of the Susquehanna River drainage above Conowingo Dam. Proceedings of the Pennsylvania Academy of Science 49:57-58.

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.

Hendricks, M. L., J. R. Stauffer, Jr., C. H. Hocutt, and C. R. Gilbert. 1979. A preliminary checklist of the fishes of the Youghiogheny River. Chicago Academy of Sciences, Natural History Miscellanea 203:1-15.

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

Lee, D. S., C. R. Gilbert, C. H. Hocutt, R. E. Jenkins, D. E. McAllister, and J. R. Stauffer, Jr. 1980 et seq. Atlas of North American freshwater fishes. North Carolina State Museum of Natural History, Raleigh, NC. (Cited as a work rather than as individual accounts in the interest of space).

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

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.

Pearson, J. G., and F. P. Ward. 1972. A new record of the bowfin, Amia calva Linnaeus, in the upper Chesapeake Bay. Chesapeake Science 13(4):323-324.

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

Smith, C. L. 1985. The inland fishes of New York state. New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Albany, NY. 522 pp.

Stiles, E. W. 1978. Vertebrates of New Jersey. Edmund W. Stiles, Somerset, NJ.

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

Other Resources:
Distribution map in Illinois - ILNHS

FishBase Summary

Author: Fuller, P.

Revision Date: 3/31/2020

Peer Review Date: 4/11/2006

Citation Information:
Fuller, P., 2024, Amia calva Linnaeus, 1766: U.S. Geological Survey, Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL, https://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/factsheet.aspx?SpeciesID=305, Revision Date: 3/31/2020, Peer Review Date: 4/11/2006, Access Date: 4/23/2024

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.


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. [2024]. Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database. Gainesville, Florida. Accessed [4/23/2024].

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