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Montana Field Guides

Black Bullhead - Ameiurus melas

Non-native Species

Global Rank: G5
State Rank: SNA

Agency Status
USFWS:
USFS:
BLM:


 

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General Description
The black bullhead is the most common bullhead in Montana. It is an introduced species with scattered populations statewide but primarily concentrated in small ponds and backwater sloughs of eastern Montana. Black bullheads are extremely tolerant of high water temperature and turbidity and low dissolved oxygen, thus making them a good fish for certain ponds. Their feeding and spawning habits are similar to channel catfish. Newly-hatched bullhead fry swim in a large mass which looks like a moving black ball, attended by the parents, often providing a unique curiosity to a first-time observer. They seldom exceed 1 pound in weight and thus are rarely a desirable game fish in Montana waters.

Diagnostic Characteristics
Rear edge of spine in pectoral fins smooth or nearly so. Membranes between fins darker than rays.

Species Range
Montana Range

Non-native

Western Hemisphere Range

 


Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations: 730

(Click on the following maps and charts to see full sized version) Map Help and Descriptions
Relative Density

Recency

 

(Observations spanning multiple months or years are excluded from time charts)



Habitat
Turbid, mud bottomed lakes and ponds; also pools and backwaters of streams. Tolerates high water temperatures and low levels of dissolved oxygen.

Food Habits
Omnivorous. Mostly aquatic insects, crustaceans, mollusks, fish, and vegetation matter. Young feed during day, while adults feed at night.

Reproductive Characteristics
Sexually mature in 2nd or 3rd year. Spawns May-early July in shallow water, often among aquatic vegetation.

References
  • Additional ReferencesLegend:   View Online Publication
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    • Barfoot, C.A. 1993. Longitudinal distribution of fishes and habitat in Little Beaver Creek, Montana. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 66 p.
    • Clancey, C.G. 1978. The fish and aquatic invertebrates in Sarpy Creek, Montana. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 54 p.
    • Craig, V.E. 1952. A story of fish production as it applies to Montana. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 92 p.
    • Hendricks, P., S. Lenard, D.M. Stagliano, and B.A. Maxell. 2013. Baseline nongame wildlife surveys on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation. Report to the Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes of the Fort Peck Indian Reservation. Montana Natural Heritage Program, Helena, MT. 83 p.
    • Mullen, J.A. 2007. Spatiotemporal variation of fish assemblages in Montana prairie streams. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 102 p.
    • Mullins, M.S. 1991. Biology and predator use of cisco (Coregonus artedi) in Fort Peck Reservoir, Montana. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 68 p.
    • Penkal, R.F. 1977. Black bass populations of the Tongue River Reservoir, Montana. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 111 p.
    • Rosenthal, L.R. 2007. Evaluation of distribution and fish passage in relation to road culverts in two eastern Montana prairie streams. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 78 p.
    • Stash, S.W. 2001. Distribution, relative abundance, and habitat associations of Milk River fishes related to irrigation diversion dams. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 82 p.
    • Stevenson, H.R. 1975. The trout fishery of the Bighorn River below Yellowtail Dam, Montana. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 67 p.
    • Stringer, A.L. 2018. Status of Northern Pearl Dace and chrosomid dace in prairie streams of Montana. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 150 p.
    • Sylvester, R. and B. Marotz. 2006. Evaluation of the Biological Effects of the Northwest Power Conservation Council's Mainstem Amendment on the Fisheries Upstream and Downstream of Hungry Horse and Libby Dams, Montana. Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks Annual Report prepared for U.S. Department of EnergyBonneville Power Administration. Bonneville Power Administration Project No. 2006-008-00 Contract No. 28350. 124 p.Contract No. 28350
    • Sylvester, R. and B. Stephens. 2011. Evaluation of the physical and biological effects of the Northwest Power Conservation Council's Mainstem Amendment upstream and downstream of Libby Dam, Montana. Libby, MT: Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks Annual Report prepared for U.S. Department of Energy Bonneville Power Administration. Bonneville Power Administration Project No. 2006-008-00, Contract Nos. 43309 and 48555. 282 p.
    • Sylvester, R., A. Steed, J. Tohtz, and B. Marotz. 2008. Evaluation of the Biological Effects of the Northwest Power Conservation Council's Mainstem Amendment on the Fisheries Upstream and Downstream of Hungry Horse and Libby Dams, Montana. Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks Annual Report prepared for U.S. Department of EnergyBonneville Power Administration. Bonneville Power Administration Project No. 2006-008-00 Contract No. 28350. 124 p.Contract No. 28350
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Citation for data on this website:
Black Bullhead — Ameiurus melas.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from