'Yellow Bullhead' is in the middle range of growth
compared to A. melas and the larger A.
have not personally come across this species in the
past years in the U.K. when imports of melas and
nebulosus where common place. Now of course
species of the Bullhead family are very hard to get
owing to restrictions on their import (*see below).
The 'Yellow Bullhead'
closely resembles the 'Black Bullhead' (A.
melas) but the
difference's are, A. natalis has a brown to
yellow colour on top with a yellowish underbelly while
A. melas has a somewhat darker colour on top
and a white belly and seems to have a somewhat more
deeper body than the 'Yellow Bullhead'. The main criteria
for me are the colour of the barbels on these two
species. A. melas has black to dusky barbels
while A. natalis has the two pair of mandibular
barbels, on the bottom of its chin, white/yellow,
and the rest black. The family Ictaluridae have of course 4
pairs of barbels, one pair of maxillary, 2 pair of
mandibular ( outer and inner) and one pair of nasal
barbels (on top of the snout). This is a good indicator
to the origin of any catfish bought as this differentiates
from the South American cats who have 3 pairs of barbels.
The only problem of course is with Asian catfish who
in the main also have 4 pairs.
Amierurus natalis seems to favour clearer
waters and clean substrates compared to the afore
mentioned melas, and its population has deteriorated
over the last 40 to 50 years due to the destruction
of its habitats. It is of course favoured as a sport
and food fish in the U.S. I have reproduced here an
e-mail that was sent to me by Barry Mitchell in Hawaii
who grew up in Tennessee and had first hand knowledge
of this species.
"They inhabit virtually
every farm pond which has not been specifically stocked
with channel catfish. They are considered to be worthless
by most people, since they are about 1/3 head and
dress out to nothing. I've seen them thrive in the
worst possible environments, even in ditches that
went nearly dry during August. In overcrowded
ponds they mature at only a few inches in length. I
once placed three of these stunted fish in a deep
but leaky pond. I did this in March. In August when
the pond was reduced to a six inch deep puddle the
three fish were approximately one pound and there
were hundreds of little ones.
There are of course a few aquarists
in the U.K. who are coldwater cat enthusiasts but
they are getting few and far between due to to the
import restrictions on this family of cats. There
is now moves afoot by the Government through the Ministry
of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAAF) to impose
restrictions on some coldwater species like the above
mentioned Bullhead Catfish, 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.
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
Atlantic and Gulf slope drainages from New York to
northern Mexico, and St. Lawrence-Great Lakes
and Mississippi river basins from southern Quebec
west to central North Dakota, and south to the Gulf.
Anal fin of 24-27 rays, usually
25 or 26 spines at the pectoral fin and just ahead
of the dorsal fin. Tail convexly rounded. Head broad
Light olive brown to yellow
above. White or cream belly. White or cream coloured
Care & Compatibility
As an aquarium fish it would
of course have to be housed in a somewhat large tank
with good external filtration, without a heater, as
this fish is deemed a coldwater cat and as such has
a wide temperature range. Companions in this tank
would be very hard to substantiate as any other fish
would be viewed as lunch!.
place in May and early June. Nests are constructed
by the male and the female lays 2,000 to 5,000 eggs.
The eggs hatch in 5 to 10 days and the resulting fry
are protected by both parents until late summer.
In the aquarium adults will
eat just about everything, pellet food, tablet food,
frozen bloodworm, earthworms, shrimps and prawns.
In the wild they feed on minnows, snails, shrimp,
crayfish and insect larvae.
A reference to the tail.
The Audubon Society Field guide to North America Fishes,
Whales & Dolphins, 1986. Fishes of Ohio's State Scenic Rivers. FloridaGame and Fresh Water Fish Commission. Mitchell, Barry pers comm.
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