Fun Smallmouth Yellowfish Facts For Kids

Gurpuneet Kaur
Nov 22, 2022 By Gurpuneet Kaur
Originally Published on Sep 30, 2021
Edited by Jacob Fitzbright
Fact-checked by Pradhanya Rao
Ponder upon this fun and interesting smallmouth yellowfish facts about the ray-finned fish found primarily in the Orange Vaal River system.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 7.6 Min

With over 8.7 million species of plants and animals estimated around the globe, every species is unique in its own way and lives an individual life. However, all living creatures are interrelated to each other, and thus, they co-exist in an ecosystem.

The species are classified into various kingdoms, phyla, orders, classes, families, and genera differentiating one species to another and speculating relations with each other. Fishes are yet another group of aquatic vertebrates under the kingdom Animalia. Unlike many living creatures, the fish is found breathing using its gills, while swims using its fins.

Fins, gills, and wet, slimy scales are unique to the fish. Fish are found to live for around more than 450 million years.

Among the species of great fish is the genus yellowfish, Labeobarbus. While there are seven South African fly rod species, smallmouth and largemouth yellowfish are found giving significant sport to fly anglers.

Also, they are a keystone of the yellowfish fly fishing industry in southern Africa. The smallmouth yellowfish, Labeobarbus aeneus, is a yellowfish species of the ray-finned fish from the class Actinopterygii.

It is often found in the rivers of the Eastern Cape in South Africa, especially in the Orange River, Gouritz River, Olifants River, Limpopo River, Mbhashe River, Great Fish River, and Kei River.

Yellows were first documented and named by English naturalist, Willian John Burchell, in 1822. Also, the binomial name of yellows is known to have several synonymous names like Cyprinus aeneus, Barbus aeneus, Barbus holubi, Barbus gilchristi, and Barbus mentalis.

Although it is quite common within its range, the population range is known to be threatened primarily due to water pollution. Yet, the conservation status of the yellows is listed as of Least Concern.

If the uniqueness of the smallmouth yellowfish makes you interested to read more about similar species, you can read about the shortnose gar and the humphead wrasse

Smallmouth Yellowfish Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a smallmouth yellowfish?

A smallmouth yellowfish is a subspecies of yellowfish (Labeobarbus) from the family Cyprinidae. Also, it is a South African fly rod giving tough sport to fly anglers.

Also, it is a hardy species found in shallow waters like coastal rivers, especially in South Africa. Although it is distantly related to the subspecies of genus yellowfish (Labeobarbus), largemouth yellowfish and smallmouth yellowfish are two closely related species of yellows. It was first identified in 1822 by English naturalist, Willian John Burchell.

What class of animal does a smallmouth yellowfish belong to?

Smallmouth yellowfish belong to the class Actinopterygii, order Cypriniformes, and the family Cyprinidae. Also, they are a subspecies of yellowfish (Labeobarbus). They are closely related to the largemouth yellowfish.

How many smallmouth yellowfish are there in the world?

While the smallmouth yellows are widespread throughout the Orange-Vaal River system in South Africa, the estimated population of the yellows is not quantified. They are now introduced in several South African Rivers including the Gouritz River, Olifants River, Limpopo River, Mbhashe River, Great Fish River, and Kei River.

Although the conservation status of the yellows is listed as of Least Concern, the population is now threatened due to recent killings and water pollution.

Where does a smallmouth yellowfish live?

While the smallmouth yellowfish was endemic to the Orange-Vaal River system in South Africa; it has now been introduced in various rivers and shallow waters. It is also found in the fast water bodies bordering Namibia and the Kyle dam in Zimbabwe. Also, the smallmouth yellows migrate upstream during the spawning season.

What is a smallmouth yellowfish's habitat?

The aquatic habitats of smallmouth yellowfish range from shallow water bodies and large fast-flowing freshwater rivers having gravel beds, weed beds, or sandy substrate. Although the depth range may vary, the fish breeds in the mid-summer season or the early rainy season in the weed beds, reef, gravel beds, or sandy bottoms.

Who do smallmouth yellowfish live with?

The species of smallmouth yellowfish are often found in shoals or schools within its favorable range in South Africa.

How long does a smallmouth yellowfish live?

A smallmouth yellowfish is a predatory species known to have a healthy life span, living for a considerable number of years. While the average life span is known to vary up to 12 years, the maximum life span of the fish is not recorded.

How do they reproduce?

These fish are oviparous species. Since the species of smallmouth yellow spawn in the mid-summer or early summer, the fish is speculated to lay eggs in the early winter.

It is a slow-growing species known to attain sexual maturity at seven years of age. The males are known to develop skin giving a rough feel when touched.

Also, it has a long breeding season from October to February, while the female lays eggs whenever the circumstances are favorable. The eggs laid at the rocky bottom of the rivers hatch into juveniles which have a silver body with an olive-green back reflecting several black spots.

What is their conservation status?

 The smallmouth yellowfish is listed as of Least Concern under the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Although the population of the species is speculated to be stable, water pollution and large-scale killing of the species are the only threat recorded.

Since it is a tough sport for anglers, it became the center of attraction for several fly fishing anglers in South Africa.

Smallmouth Yellowfish Fun Facts

What do smallmouth yellowfish look like?

It is a yellow-colored small fish found in aquatic habitats including natural flowing freshwater rivers.We've been unable to source an image of the smallmouth yellowfish and have used an image of the red-spotted yellow fish instead. If you are able to provide us with a royalty-free image of the smallmouth yellowfish, we would be happy to credit you. Please contact us at

The smallmouth yellows, as the name suggests, have a yellow-colored pelage with a comparatively smaller mouth. They have scaly bodies with a silvery tint over their yellowish-olive bodies. Though the males and females do not portray sexual dimorphism, juveniles are known to have a silvery-colored head and upper body with an olive-green back covered in black spots.

How cute are they?

The yellowfish covered in wet, slimy scales may or may not be considered cute. The shiny species with a smaller mouth compared to a largemouth has a unique appearance, it often catches our attention and could be considered cute.

How do they communicate?

It is speculated to communicate via gestures and movements.

How big is a smallmouth yellowfish?

The body length of the smallmouth yellows ranges from 8-19.7 in (20-50 cm), it is several times smaller than an arapaima.

How fast can a smallmouth yellowfish swim?

The smallmouth yellow is known to swim at a considerable speed using its fins and scales. Though the exact speed is unrecorded, it is several times slower than a sailfish, the fastest species.

How much does a smallmouth yellowfish weigh?

Although the average weight of the yellowfish is estimated at around 15 lb (7 kg), its weight ranges from 11-22 lb (5-10 kg). It is ten times lighter than a Nile perch that weighs around 220.5 lb (100 kg).

What are the male and female names of the species?

Male and female yellowfish do not have sex-specific names.

What would you call a baby smallmouth yellowfish?

While a baby smallmouth yellowfish does not have a specific name, it is often referred to as fry or fingerling.

What do they eat?

Smallmouth yellows are omnivorous species and are also opportunistic predators. They feed on a wide variety of food. While primarily their food includes invertebrates and plant materials, they eat and prey upon aquatic insects, larvae, nymphs, crabs, shrimps, small fishes, bivalve mollusks, algae, vegetation, and detritus.

Are they dangerous?

No, they do not possess any danger to humans. Although it is an opportunistic predator, it feeds on a variety of aquatic creatures but does not attack humans until threatened. Also, the fish is neither poisonous nor venomous.

Would they make a good pet?

Yes, a smallmouth yellow is known to make a great pet but is yet advised to avoid keeping the wild species in captivity. This fish is often caught by fishing either when the water is flowing strongly or the temperature is high as fishing becomes difficult in winter. Moreover, it is a keystone of the yellowfish fly fishing industry.

Did you know...

This South African species of smallmouth yellowfish was first identified by Willian John Burchell in 1822.

What type of fish is yellowfish?

A yellowfish is a genus of fish found in natural aquatic habitats. The genus is classified into several subspecies of ray-finned fish from the family Cyprinidae including the largemouth and smallmouth yellowfish. It is often found in freshwater bodies around South Africa.

How many eggs do smallmouth yellow lays?

A smallmouth yellow has a wide range of litter as it lays about 5-30000 eggs per litter. The size of the clutch corresponds to the size of the fish. The larger the fish, the greater number of eggs laid and vice versa. The eggs are laid mostly around the winter season at the bottom of the water bodies.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other fish from our rockmover wrasse facts and salmon facts for kids.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable fish mosaic coloring pages.

Main image by Brian Gratwicke.

Second image by Jiaqian.

We've been unable to source an image of the smallmouth yellowfish and have used an image of the Cape yellowfish instead. If you are able to provide us with a royalty-free image of the smallmouth yellowfish, we would be happy to credit you. Please contact us at

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Written by Gurpuneet Kaur

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Economics

Gurpuneet Kaur picture

Gurpuneet KaurBachelor of Arts specializing in Economics

As a skilled content writer, Gurpuneet has written and managed engaging content for multiple websites and companies. Driven by a passion for helping young people achieve their full potential, she brings a unique perspective to her work. She is currently pursuing a degree in Economics from Sri Guru Gobind Singh College Of Commerce. With extensive experience as a tutor, Gurpuneet has made a significant impact by providing guidance and academic support to students. Her dedication extends beyond tutoring as she has volunteered with Action India, where she offered medical assistance and educational aid to underprivileged communities. Additionally, Gurpuneet has contributed to the creation of student study guides for various educational agencies.

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Fact-checked by Pradhanya Rao

Bachelor of Commerce specializing in Marketing and HR

Pradhanya Rao picture

Pradhanya RaoBachelor of Commerce specializing in Marketing and HR

With a Bachelor’s degree in Commerce from Christ University, Bangalore, Pradhanya's passion for the English language and literature led her to explore the field of content writing, where she has gained extensive experience in writing, reviewing, editing, and fact-checking. She has also earned certifications in Google Ads Search, Google Ads Display, and Social Media Marketing, showcasing her proficiency in digital marketing.

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