Ameiurus natalis LeSuer,
he 'Yellow Bullhead' is in the middle
range of growth compared to A. melas and the larger A.
nebulosus. I 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
Acknowledgements: Barry Mitchell for his input to
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 and flat.
Light olive brown to yellow above. White
or cream belly. White or cream coloured barbels.
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
Spawning takes 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.
Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission.
|Yellow Bullhead, Butter
Cat, Yellow Cat, Pollywog, Mudcat.
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
| 46cm. (16½ins)
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