Fun Bowfin Facts For Kids

Anusuya Mukherjee
Oct 20, 2022 By Anusuya Mukherjee
Originally Published on Aug 05, 2021
Edited by Luca Demetriou
Fact-checked by Abdulqudus Mojeed
Bowfin facts like they have sharp teeth and bright green fins are interesting.

Bowfin is a type of fish whose scientific name is Amia calva. They are known by several other names as well, such as dog fish, mud pike, griddle, mudfish, choupique, and swamp trout.

They belong to the order Amiiformes, which has existed since the Jurassic era. The modern-day bowfin features several evolutionary changes that it has undergone through the ages.

However, they are still commonly referred to as a type of 'primitive fish' because they have several morphological characteristics that are similar to those of their early ancestors. Some of those characteristics include the bony gular plate, the spiral valve vestiges, a gas bladder lung that's highly vascularized, and a heterocercal caudal fin that's rounded externally.

The bowfin Amia calva is a species that's native to North America. Some of the North American regions with the highest concentrations of the bowfin (Amia calva) include freshwater regions in Ontario and Quebec (Canada), and states across the eastern USA such as Florida.

Anglers consider them one of the most difficult types of game fish, as their movement in water is incredibly swift.

If you're interested to know more about the Amia calva that belongs to the order Amiiformes, this article is for you. Read on as we take you through some of the most interesting facts about the bowfin.

From facts about young bowfin to male bowfin to their native habitat in Florida and other regions and more, you'll find it all here. For more awesome facts articles right here on Kidadl, check out longhorn cowfish and sucker fish.

Bowfin Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a bowfin?

A bowfin is a fish, part of the Animalia kingdom.

What class of animal does a bowfin belong to?

A bowfin belong to the Actinopterygii class.

How many bowfins are there in the world?

It's unknown as to what the exact number of the total bowfin population in the world is.  However, since their conservation status is 'Least Concern', it's safe to say that there are millions of bowfins across states of eastern USA such as Florida along with neighboring Canada.

Where does a bowfin live?

Bowfin live in the ocean.

What is a bowfin's habitat?

Bowfins, or amia calva, are mostly found in freshwater environments across North America. The highest bowfin populations can be found across the entirety of the eastern USA along with regions in southern Canada including Lake Champlain and St. Lawrence River drainage basin in Ontario.

Other regions where the Amia calva are commonly found include the Great Lakes (southern Ontario) and Quebec. Across the 19th and 20th centuries, bowfins were introduced to several lakes and backwaters of the USA that present different habitats from their native ones.

Ideally, bowfins thrive in areas such as backwater areas, swamps, lowland lakes and rivers, and vegetated sloughs.

They tend to search for shelter under submerged logs and roots. They can also easily survive in low-oxygen environments due to their superior respiratory function

Who do bowfins live with?

Bowfins live in packs.

How long does a bowfin live?

In the wild, the bowfin dogfish can live for 10-12 years, while in captivity, they can live for 30 years. Females tend to live longer than males.

How do they reproduce?

The Amia calva males and females come together in the spawning season, during which a female bowfin lays eggs in the nest. It all begins with the courtship, which is initiated by the female.

The male engages in chasing behavior until approval is given by the female. Once approved, the male and female lie together in the nest side by side.

While the female lays eggs in the nest, the male releases his milt, which results in fertilization of the eggs.

Males are left behind by the females to take charge of protecting the nest, which shelters the eggs. The incubation period lasts from 8-10 days.

After hatching from their eggs in the nest, the larval bowfin are dependent on their adhesive organ, which allows them to attach to underwater vegetation. A bowfin nest can contain eggs from several females, as each female bowfin reproduces with multiple males during a single spawning season.

What is their conservation status?

The conservation status of the Amia calva is Least Concern. The fact that their reputation as a game fish isn't the best among anglers has also helped them maintain healthy population levels in water bodies across North America. Compared to bowfish, other fishes that have great reputations as game fish have suffered significant loss of population in recent years.

Bowfin Fun Facts

What do bowfins look like?

The body of bowfins is cylindrical and elongated and features a dorsal fin, a caudal fin, a paired fin and an anal fin. The back and sides of the species' body are colored, usually brown or olive.

Camouflaged patterns, dark reticulations, and vertical bars may also be present on the body. Its long dorsal fin doesn't have vertical bars.

Instead, the long dorsal fin has horizontal bars along with up to 250 rays and runs to the tail's base from the middle of the back. The caudal fin features irregular and inconsistent vertical bars.

The anal fin and paired fin of bowfins are bright green, while the undersides of the body are typically cream or white. A young bowfin is similar to a tadpole in terms of appearance and are black-colored.

On the tail base of the body, all young male bowfins have a black spot surrounded by a border that appears orange-yellowish. On the other hand, young females may or may not have that black spot.

The spot, many believe, is there for a reason. Many experts who have conducted research believe that the spot is meant to confuse predators and give bowfish the time to make their escape.

The bowfin skull is comprised of two layers, the chondocranium and the dermatocranium. Bowfin teeth are positioned on top of two bones, the maxillae and the premaxillae.

The male bowfin charms the female bowfin using different chasing behaviors during spawning season.

How cute are they?

If you appreciate fish and would want to make the bowfin a part of your home aquarium, feel free to go ahead. Bowfins are cute and if you give them proper care and attention, they can be excellent companions for over two decades, as the ones in captivity typically live up to 30 years or more.

How do they communicate?

Bowfins, like most other fish types, communicate with each other using more than one communication form. The forms include smell, electrical impulses, motion, color, sound, and bioluminescence. These communication forms can include calls from a male to potential female mates for spawning, asking for help with regards to navigation, or alert predators.

How big is a bowfin?

A bowfin, compared to the wels catfish, which is a specific type of catfish (another bony fish), is almost 32 times smaller.

How fast can a bowfin swim?

The exact top speed of the bowfin underwater still remains unknown.

How much does a bowfin weigh?

Both male and female bowfins can weigh up to 9.75 kg (21.5 pounds).

What are their male and female names of the species?

A male bowfin and a female bowfin are both referred to as bowfin fish. They don't have any gender-specific names, both in Florida and other habitats their population may be in.

What would you call a baby bowfin?

A young baby bowfin that's recently hatched is known as a hatchling.

What do they eat?

A bowfin is primarily an ambush predator. Most move to the shallows of the lakes from the depth of the freshwater lakes at night and prey on a variety of aquatic invertebrates and fish.

The aquatic invertebrates consumed by bowfins include mollusks, crawfish, and an array of aquatic insects. The piscivorous adults are well-known to be opportunistic, while young bowfin mostly feed small crustaceans.

Both the young and the adults are incredibly rapid in terms of underwater movement and their appetite is notorious for being among the most voracious for a fish of its size. The rays on their dorsal fin also allow them to compete with their prey underwater.

Are they eaten by humans?

The bowfin fish aren't considered edible by most places in the world with high bowfin fish populations. However, some in the USA have reported trying bowfin Florida.

The results haven't been too satisfactory. Most people who have consumed mudfish state that it has a jelly-like texture and feels soft in the mouth. People in the food industry recommend eating mudfish by frying them after dipping them in egg first and then in corn meal or bread crumbs.

Would they make a good pet?

Even though bowfins are freshwater predators, they are relatively easy to keep and care for in a home aquarium setting. Unlike many other fishes, they can survive quite easily in stagnant water.

However, if you plan to adopt a bowfin for your home aquarium, you should ensure that certain things are maintained so that the bowfin fishes get the chance to grow up and live in a healthy home environment. Soft water is recommended for bowfins, with a pH level of 6.8.

The pH level of the water should not be more than 7.5.

If you plan on keeping large bowfin fishes, then you have to put in the money, time, and effort to feed them live fishes. If you don't feed large bowfins live fishes, you may encounter problems in the future.

Did you know...

While bowfins are predators that can easily adapt to waters that are warm and acidic, they become inactive in river or lake waters when temperatures dip below 50 degrees F.

Why do bowfin have green fins?

Almost every male bowfin has bright green paired and anal fins. While it's still not been scientifically proved as to why they have such bright green fins, it's assumed that they are features that allow male bowfins to attract females towards them during the spawning season.

Some female bowfins feature green fins as well, but the reason for that has still not been properly examined and understood.

Can you eat bowfin fish?

The simple answer to this question is yes. If you can get your hands on one, there's no reason why you can't eat a bowfin fish.

However, before eating it, you must consider what the reviews have been like so far. All in all, most eaters have expressed disappointment at how the bowfin feels in the mouth.

Most have criticized the fish's jelly-like texture and the extreme feeling of softness when it is inside the mouth. However, if you want to give your taste buds a new animal to feast on, there is a way for you to enjoy the bowfin fish.

Ideally, you should dip it in eggs and then cover it with bread crumbs and then proceed to deep fry it. But if you like your fish traditionally cooked, we'd recommend steering clear of the bowfin fish.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other fish including yellowfin tuna, or Atlantic salmon.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our bowfin coloring pages.

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Written by Anusuya Mukherjee

Bachelor of Arts and Law specializing in Political Science and Intellectual Property Rights

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Anusuya MukherjeeBachelor of Arts and Law specializing in Political Science and Intellectual Property Rights

With a wealth of international experience spanning Europe, Africa, North America, and the Middle East, Anusuya brings a unique perspective to her work as a Content Assistant and Content Updating Coordinator. She holds a law degree from India and has practiced law in India and Kuwait. Anusuya is a fan of rap music and enjoys a good cup of coffee in her free time. Currently, she is working on her novel, "Mr. Ivory Merchant".

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Fact-checked by Abdulqudus Mojeed

Bachelor of Law

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Abdulqudus MojeedBachelor of Law

A versatile professional with a passion for creative writing and technology. Abdulqudus is currently pursuing his Bachelor of Law from the University of Lagos and has experience as a tutor, intern assistant, and volunteer. He possesses strong organizational skills and is a detail-oriented person.

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