Catfish - Family Ictaluridae


 BROWN BULLHEAD - Ameiurus nebulosus

'brown bullhead' fish 

Fish Notes

The brown bullhead is a member of the catfish family and is closely related to the yellow bullhead.  The distinguishing characteristic between brown and yellow bullheads is that the brown bullhead has dark whiskers on the lower lip while the yellow bullhead has yellow whiskers on the lower lip.  The brown bullhead has been found at 10 percent of Fairfax County sampling sites.

Fairfax County Native: Yes

Size: 15 inches, rarely to 18 inches

Diet: Aquatic insects, fish and algae

 

map of 'brown bullhead' distribution 

 


   YELLOW BULLHEAD - Ameiurus natalis

 'yellow bullhead' fish

Fish Notes 

With its wide distribution in Virginia, the yellow bullhead is the most commonly caught catfish.  As its name implies, the yellow bullhead has yellow whiskers below its mouth.  The yellow bullhead was found at 53 percent of Fairfax County sampling sites. 

Fairfax County Native: Yes

Size: 14 inches, rarely to 18 inches

Diet: Aquatic insects and fish

map of 'yellow bullhead' distribution 

 


 CHANNEL CATFISH - Ictalurus punctatus

channel catfish 

Fish Notes

The channel catfish is a large fish that usually inhabits large rivers and lakes.  Specimens collected during Fairfax County surveys were most likely fish that were pushed out of upstream lakes during high rains or fish that traveled up the streams from larger rivers like the Potomac.  The Virginia state record is 31 pounds, 8 ounces.  Channel catfish were found at three percent of Fairfax County sampling sites.

Fairfax County Native: No

Size: 28 inches, rarely to 35 inches

Diet: Aquatic invertebrates, fish and other vertebrates

 

 map of channel catfish distribution

 

 


   MARGINED MADTOM - Noturus insignis

margined madtom fish  

Fish Notes

Like all catfish, the margined madtom has hard spines in its dorsal and pectoral fins.  To varying degrees, catfish in the family ictaluridae have venom in their spines with the madtoms inflicting the most painful sting.  The sting from a madtom feels like a bee sting.  The margined madtom was found at 18 percent of Fairfax County sampling sites.

Fairfax County Native: Yes

Size: 7 inches

Diet: Aquatic insects and fish

 

 map of margined madtom distribution

 


   WHITE CATFISH - Ameiurus catus

'white catfish' 

Fish Notes 

The white catfish is only found in the tidal areas of Fairfax County.  This catfish can live as long as 14 years.  The Virginia state record is 7 lbs 6 oz.  The white catfish was found at one Fairfax County sampling site.

Fairfax County Native: Yes

Size: 18 inches, rarely to 20 inches

Diet: Aquatic invertebrates, fish and plant material

map of 'white catfish' distribution 

 

 

References

Jenkins, R. E., N. M. Burkhead, 1994, Freshwater Fishes of Virginia, 1079 pgs., American Fisheries Society, Bethesda, MD

For more information, please email the Stormwater Planning Division or call 703-324-5500, TTY 711

 


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