Ictiobus bubalus
(Smallmouth Buffalo)
Native Transplant
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Ictiobus bubalus (Rafinesque, 1818)

Common name: Smallmouth Buffalo

Taxonomy: available through www.itis.govITIS logo

Identification: Becker (1983); Hubbs et al. (1991); Page and Burr (1991); Etnier and Starnes (1993).

Size: 78 cm.

Native Range: Lake Michigan drainage and Mississippi River basin from Pennsylvania and Michigan to Montana and south to Gulf of Mexico; Gulf Slope drainages from Mobile Bay, Alabama, to Rio Grande, Texas and New Mexico. Also in Mexico (Page and Burr 1991).

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Native range data for this species provided in part by NatureServe NS logo
Interactive maps: Point Distribution Maps

Nonindigenous Occurrences: Smallmouth Buffalo were stocked in Canyon, Saguaro, and Apache lakes in Arizona (Minckley 1973). They were introduced to unspecified area(s) of California (Hubbs et al. 1979). They were probably introduced into the Yadkin, Catawba, Pee Dee, and Neuse drainages of North Carolina (Hocutt et al. 1986; Menhinick 1991), and to the Yadkin and Santee drainages, and Broad, Wateree, Catawba, and Great Pee Dee Rivers in South Carolina (Hocutt et al. 1986; Rohde et al. 1994; Rohde et al. 2009). Additionally, they have been collected in the North Canadian River located in Oklahoma (Matthews and Gelwick 1990). They have also been caught on rod and reel from Ray Hubbard Reservoir located in Texas (Anonymous 1992).  Specimens have been taken from the Big Lake and Island Lake region in Vilas County, Wisconsin (Becker 1963).

Means of Introduction: Accidental introduction in Arizona in 1918 with bigmouth buffalo I. cyprinellus (Minckley 1973; Rinne 1994); unknown means in California, and South Carolina. Likely stocked in North Carolina (Leach 1921, 1923). Stocked in Wisconsin during fish rescue operations from the Mississippi River in the 1930s (Becker 1983).

Status: Unknown in most sites in Arizona. Established in Apache Lake, Arizona, and in North and South Carolina. Extirpated in California. Unknown in Wisconsin; still present in the 1960s (Becker 1983). Native to portions of the Great Lakes basin, but considered nonindegenous in some locations.

Impact of Introduction: Unknown.

Remarks: In the early 1900s all three species of buffalofishes were stocked; I. bubalus, I. cyprinellus, and I. velifer (Leach 1921, 1923). However, when the stockings were reported they were lumped together as "buffalofish" and it is not possible to determine which species were planted. Stocking of buffalofishes occurred outside their native ranges in Lake Erie in Ohio, the Pee Dee and Catawba drainages in North Carolina, and in unknown locations in Massachusetts (Leach 1921, 1923).



References: (click for full references)

Anonymous. 1992.  1991 Angler Recognition Entries - Freshwater. Texas Parks & Wildlife News.  Austin, TX.

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

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

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. Pages 161--212 in C. H. Hocutt, and E. O. Wiley, editors. The Zoogeography of North American Freshwater Fishes. John Wiley and Sons, New York, NY.

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., W. I. Follett, and L. J. Dempster. 1979. List of the fishes of California. California Academy Science Occasional Papers 133. 51 pp.

Leach, G.C. 1921. Distribution of fish and fish eggs during the fiscal year 1919. Appendix I to the Report of the U.S. Commissioner of Fisheries for 1919. Bureau of Fisheries Document No. 878. Goverment Printing Office, Washington, DC.

Leach, G.C. 1923. Propagation and distribution of food fishes, 1922. Report of the division of fish culture for the fiscal year 1922. Appendix XVII to the Report of the U.S. Commissioner of Fisheries for 1922. Bureau of Fisheries Document No. 941. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC.

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.

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

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, SC. 430 pp.

Rhode, F. C., R. G. Arndt, D. G. Lindquist, and J. F. Parnell. 1994. Freshwater Fishes of the Carolinas, Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware. University of Carolina Press, Chappel Hill, NC. 222 pp.

Rinne, J. N. 1994. The effects of introduced fishes on native fishes: Arizona, southwestern United States. World fisheries congress, May 1992, Athens, Greece.

Other Resources:
FishBase Summary

Author: Fuller, P.

Revision Date: 1/26/2018

Peer Review Date: 4/1/2016

Citation Information:
Fuller, P., 2018, Ictiobus bubalus (Rafinesque, 1818): U.S. Geological Survey, Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL, https://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/factsheet.aspx?SpeciesID=361, Revision Date: 1/26/2018, Peer Review Date: 4/1/2016, Access Date: 3/21/2018

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 [3/21/2018].

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