Ameiurus melas Rafinesque,
he 'Black Bullhead' grows to the same size
in the aquarium as Ameiurus nebulosus, the 'Brown Bullhead'.
In the early days of my fishkeeping they were abundant in coldwater
sections of the aquatic shops, small specimens in amongst Goldfish!
I lost count of the times I was contacted, to be asked if
I would take a large Bullhead which had eaten or was about to
eat their Goldfish, but they are not so common now in the U.K.
A good fish to house on its own in your
fishhouse/room, to take culled and deformed fishes (but not
diseased.) As I recall I had to house two in the same tank and
one killed the other during the night! ( you live and learn.)
One thing they do have in common with catfish from the Asian
continent is that they possess 4 pairs of barbels ( chin barbels
grey-black or spotted) unlike the catfish forms of South America
who in the whole have three pairs. This can be a good way to
identify your catfish if you are not too sure from where it
There is now moves afoot by the U.K. Government
through the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAAF)
to impose restrictions on some coldwater species like the above
mentioned Black Bullhead, due to the dangers of introduction to
native waters and the threat to its occupants through disease
and predation. In other words you could be paying up to £30
for a license to keep them.
In the future due to the
exporters having to implement new guidelines on matters such
as health records for each fish, they could become quite rare
in the U.K.
Update: As of November 1998 in the U.K.you must have
a licence to keep the above species. This licence is now issued
free, but does take a few months to process. For more information
log on to the DEFRA
Dorsal 1/6; Anal 17-21; Pectorals; 1/8.
Ventrals 8; Hind edge of pectoral spine rough, but without serrations.
Caudal peduncle short, moderately deep, caudal fin emarginate.
Head large, rounded above; eyes small; mouth terminal, short,
wide. Adipose fin present.
Colouration variable:upperside greenish,
yellowish, brownish or slaty-olive, sides lighter, underside bright
yellow, yellow or milk-white. Fins normally conspicuously darker
than the adjacent parts of the body. Anal base pale, distal two-thirds
between the rays black; in young fishes less than 10cm. in length
the entire fins may be black.
The North American ' Black Bullhead' adapts
well to aquarium conditions but do bare in mind that it does grow
big along with the capable size of its mouth! so if housing with
other temperate fish you would be better going for larger stock
such as yellow perch or the larger sunfishes. Putting them in
with goldfish is not a good idea, not for the poor goldfish anyway!.
They adapt well to most aquarium conditions as long as you give
them a cave of some sort and to keep the lighting down to a minimum
for viewing purposes.
In its natural habitat in early spring the
females lays its eggs in the substrate and one or both parents
guards them, the eggs can number into the thousands. The resulting
fry are protected by both parents. Difficult to distinguish between
sexes but the female is noticeably fuller in the breeding season.
Adults eat just about everything, pellet
food, tablet food, frozen bloodworm, earthworms, shrimps and prawns.
A reference to the tail.
Top picture: Allan
|Schleser, David M.
North American Fishes for
the Home Aquarium
The Audubon Society, Field guide to North American
Fishes, Whales & Dolphins
Bottom picture: David Proudfit