How to fish in Galveston Bay

Fish dictionary: small-mouthed buffalo fish (Ictiobus bubalus)

Small mouthed buffalo fish
(Ictiobus bubalus)


The small-mouthed buffalo fish (Ictiobus bubalus), also bull fish or in English "Smallmouth buffalo", is a freshwater fish species from the family of the sucker carp (Catostomidae) and the order carp-like (Cypriniformes). Translated from the Greek, its scientific name means bullfish or buffalo.


The main characteristics of the small-mouthed buffalo fish:

  • the back and the flanks of the small-mouthed buffalo fish are colored light to dark brown, sometimes they have a greenish or copper-colored tint
  • its fins are light yellow or whitish
  • although it has no barbels, it is often mistaken for a carp
  • Ictiobus bubalus has a lower mouth

Types of confusion: In contrast to Ictiobus cyprinellus, Ictiobus bubalus has a lower mouth. In contrast to the carp, Ictiobus bubalus lacks barbels.


The small-mouthed buffalo fish (Ictiobus bubalus) is max. 110-115 cm long, the average size is approx. 60 cm. The maximum published weight of an Ictiobus bubalus was 37.3 kg, it was caught in Athens Lake in Alabama.

Maximum age

Ictiobus bubalus can live up to 15 years.

Way of life, habitat, occurrence

The distribution area of ​​the small-mouthed buffalo fish stretches from Montana and Michigan in the west to Pennsylvania in the east. In the southern United States, it is found in rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico or Mobile Bay in Alabama.

It can also be found in the Rio Grande in Texas and New Mexico to further south in northern Mexico. In Texas, it has been caught in the following waters: Red River, Kiamichi River, Sabine Lake, Galveston Bay Brazos River, Colorado River, San Antonio Bay, and Nueces River.

This fish is relatively adaptable and inhabits ponds, reservoirs, lakes, canals, and smaller to larger rivers. Ictiobus bubalus prefers clear waters with a medium current.

It finds ideal growth conditions in the presence of abundant underwater plants and a soft substrate. It also tolerates high water hardness, such as can be found in the Rio Pecos.


The biology of the small mouthed buffalo fish is not yet fully understood. It is known that these fish spawn in spring when the water temperature is appropriate.

The spawn is deposited on the aquatic plants or in the mud, sometimes also on flooded meadows. The fish larvae hatch after about 1 to 2 weeks.


The small-mouthed buffalo fish (Ictiobus bubalus) feeds on crustaceans and algae that it finds at the bottom of the water. He grinds his food with his gullet teeth.

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