Becker, George C. / Fishes of Wisconsin
Bullhead catfish family - ictaluridae, pp. 693-732 PDF (19.6 MB)
702 Bullhead Catfish Family-Ictaluridae Brown Bullhead Ictalurus nebulosus (Lesueur). Ictalurus-fish cat; neb- ulosus-clouded, in reference to mottled color- ing. Other common names: northern brown bullhead, marbled bullhead, marble cat, speckled bull- head, speckled cat, common bullhead, bull- head, brown catfish, common catfish, small cat- fish, catfish, mudcat, red cat, horned pout, bullpout. Adult 275 mm, Half Moon L. (Eau Claire Co.), mid-Apr. 1978 DESCRIPTION Body robust, rounded anteriorly, compressed poste- riorly Length 152-254 mm (6-10 in). TL = 1.20 SL. Depth into TL 3.8-5.7. Head length into TL 3.8-4.4. Snout bluntly pointed in lateral view, broadly rounded in dorsal view; elongated barbels of snout just ante- rior to posterior nostrils. Mouth short but wide, ter- minal and horizontal; upper jaw slightly longer than lower jaw, with very long barbel sweeping poste- riorly from the upper jaw at each corner of the mouth; 4 barbels (outer 2 much elongated, inner 2 thinner and shorter) attached in a transverse line on the lower chin; numerous small, sharp teeth ar- ranged in several irregular rows on upper and lower jaws. Dorsal fin origin at about midpoint between pectoral and pelvic fins; dorsal fin with a stout spine and 6-7 soft rays; dorsal adipose fin free at posterior edge. Anal fin rays, including rudimentaries, 21-24; pelvic fin rays 8. Pectoral fin with an elongated spine barbed on posterior edge, near tip with barbs in- clined toward the base of spine, barbs becoming erect near middle, and barbs inclined toward the tip near base (see Key, p. 146). Caudal fin edge straight, oc- casionally slightly indented at middle. Scaleless. Lat- eral line complete. Digestive tract coiled, 1.1-1.4 TL. Chromosomes 2n = 60 (LeGrande 1978). Dorsal region of head, back, and upper sides yel- lowish brown to almost black; lower sides mottled with lighter yellowish brown to gray; ventral region of head and belly pale yellow to white. Barbels dark brown to nearly black, except sometimes barbels on chin yellow to white. All fins dark colored, similar to body; interradial membranes slightly darker, but not black. Hybrids: Brown bullhead x black bullhead from Lost Lake and Crawfish River (Dodge County) (Wis. Fish Distrib. Study 1974-75). Experimental brown bullhead x yellow bullhead, brown bullhead x blue catfish, brown bullhead x white catfish, brown bull- head x channel catfish (Dupree et al. 1966). SYSTEMATIC NOTES Two subspecies are recognized; Ictalurus n. nebulosus (Lesueur) is found in Canada, the Dakotas, Wiscon- sin, and the northern part of the Ohio Valley to Vir- ginia; this form has been extensively introduced into western North America. Ictalurus n. marmoratus ranges from southern Illinois and northeastern Oklahoma to the Carolinas and Florida. DISTRIBUTION, STATUS, AND HABITAT In Wisconsin, the brown bullhead occurs in the Mis- sissippi River, Lake Michigan, and Lake Superior drainage basins. Its major distribution is in the Rock and Fox-Wolf River systems of eastern Wisconsin, and the Chippewa River system of northwestern Wisconsin. It is present in the shallows of Lake Su- perior, Lake Michigan, and Green Bay, and in the lower courses of tributary streams. Although the brown bullhead has been reported frequently from a number of sources, some of these reports may be in error since this species is easily confused with other species of bullheads. I have plotted these reports on the distribution map when there was no opportunity to check them. As an example, I have not personally seen a specimen of the brown bullhead from the Wis- consin River basin, although it is commonly reported from that system. According to McLain et al. (1965), the brown bull- head is widespread in the mouths of tributaries to Lake Superior; in these waters its numbers fluctuate widely from year to year, but the trend is toward in- creasing numbers. Priegel (1967) described the brown bullhead as abundant in Lake Winnebago. In gen- eral, its distribution over Wisconsin is sporadic and its numbers are low. It is the least common of the state's three species of bullheads, and its status has probably changed little since the 1920s. The brown bullhead inhabits the weedy waters of warmwater lakes and sluggish streams. In the Mis- sissippi River it occurs in sloughs and backwaters. It
Copyright 1983. The entirety of this book is available for viewing by the public as an Open Access text through the cooperative efforts of George Becker, the University of Wisconsin Press, and the UWDCC. This Work is copyrighted to the Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System. Any use of this material falling outside the purview of "Fair Use" requires the permission of the University of Wisconsin Press.