Buffalo Fish: 21 Facts You Won’t Believe! | Kidadl


Buffalo Fish: 21 Facts You Won’t Believe!

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The buffalo fish is part of a large species of fish that is also known as the suckermouth fish. This is because of the fact that this is a relatively large-bodied fish that has a small mouth pointing downwards. This species has several sized fishes of which one of the largest can be as big as 80 lb (36.2 kg).

Buffalo fish can be of five species. These are bigmouth buffalo, smallmouth buffalo, Fleshy Lip, Black Buffalo, and Usumacinta fish. These are all found in different areas, especially the North American regions and have different characteristics that distinguish one from the other.

The name Ictiobus bubalus given to the smallmouth buffalo meant bull in the original Greek version. The French used to call buffaloes bull. The name of the buffalo fish originated from the French version of the name bull. Similarly, the black buffalo is known as Ictiobus niger. Read on to find out more.

You may also check out the fact files on the blue tang and common carp from Kidadl.

Buffalo Fish: 21 Facts You Won’t Believe!

What do they prey on?

Aquatic plants, zooplankton, insect larvae, and small crustaceans

What do they eat?


Average litter size?

100,000-750,000 eggs

How much do they weigh?

80 lb (36.28 kg)

How long are they?

48 in (121.9 cm)

How tall are they?


What do they look like?

Gray and brown

Skin Type


What were their main threats?


What is their conservation status?

Not Endangered

Where you'll find them?



Mexico, Canada, Us, And Down South To Guatemala









Buffalo Fish Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a buffalo fish?

Buffalo fish are large-bodied fish with a mouth that points downward.

What class of animal does a buffalo fish belong to?

The buffalo fish is a type of organism that belongs to the class Actinopterygii.

How many buffalo fish are there in the world?

Buffalo fish, from the sucker family, are quite numerous in the area that they live in. Thus it is not so easy to get the buffalo fish populations.

Where does a buffalo fish live?

The buffalo fish species are found in most North American parts, in the United States as well as in Canada, Mexico, and Guatemala. The bigmouth buffalo is native to the Mississippi River drainage basins and Red River of the North, right from the upper reaches in Canada down to the downstream river reaches of Texas and Alabama in the US. The smallmouth buffalo also lives in similar regions of North American regions.

What is a buffalo fish's habitat?

Buffalo fish species are found in fast-moving streams as well as standing water, mostly in the North American regions. These fish are also found in creeks, dams, freshwater lakes, and ponds. Being hardy fish these can survive in different alkalinity levels of water. These are mostly bottom feeders and hence seen at the bottom of the water bodies in which they are found. The buffalo fish populations can survive in water that is low in oxygen and hard in nature. This is a function of its own basic hardiness.

Who do buffalo fish live with?

The buffalo fish species, a fish native to North America, are found to live in schools. This means they live together in their own habitat. They are found together in the bottom of ponds as well as freshwater lakes. Some of them may be found in the middle part of the freshwater pool or lake. Others congregate towards the deeper end of the pools where they can forage for their favorite foods.

How long does a buffalo fish live?

The buffalo fish species are very hardy creatures and can survive in water that is hard or even in low oxygen. Lifespans of around 120 years for a buffalo fish have also been documented through carbon dating. For the most part, these fish live for at least 80 years or so. These are some of the oldest living edible fish known in the US.

How do they reproduce?

Spawning of the buffalo fish species happens mostly in the spring and during the months of April to June. In the case of the bigmouth buffalo, they lay their eggs on plants to which they adhere. The spawning is done by more than one male and the males also push the females to the top of the water where oxygen levels are higher. This is where the spawning happens. In some cases, the spawning also happens in the gravel and rock by the watery surface where they reside.

In the smallmouth buffalo fish, similarly, there is less migration. The eggs are laid on the vegetation found in the watery bodies and spawning is similar to how it happens with the bigmouth buffalo.

The number of eggs laid can vary from a few hundred to hundreds of thousands of eggs. The creation of fish fry depends on the recruitment success of the sperms and the eggs. Once the eggs are hatched the buffalo fish does not really do much by way of rearing the young. The young fishes are susceptible to predators. In their juvenile stage, the fry hides within the vegetation found in their areas.

What is their conservation status?

The buffalo fish species are abundantly found in nature and are not threatened in any way. There is hence no need for any conservation efforts to protect buffalo fish from extinction.

White buffalo is a type of fish that is sacred to the indigenous people near the Dodge river. These fish have been diminishing in population, unfortunately. Anglers and fishers need to have a lot of fishing skills in order to catch the white buffalo fish.

Buffalo Fish Fun Facts

What do buffalo fish look like?

The bigmouth buffalo, Ictiobus cyprinellus, has a bulky body and a forward-facing mouth. It is brownish olive in color and its fins are dusky. It has a large dorsal fin and is the largest of the buffalo fish species. The smallmouth buffalo fish (Ictiobus bubalus) is quite distinct from the bigmouth variety. Its color varies from gray to brown. On the ventral side, it is pale to yellowish in color. These fish also have a hump that rises from the operculum. It also has pectoral fins, anal fins, and caudal fins with equal lobes. The black buffalo fish, as the name implies, is dark and blackish in color as compared to the other types of buffalo fish.

Buffalo fish are bulky in nature and found in freshwater ponds.

*Please note this is an image of a carp fish, a not-too-distant relative. If you have an image of a buffalo fish, let us know at [email protected]

How cute are they?

You cannot really categorize the Buffalo fish, from the sucker family, as being cute normally. The species is bulky in nature and has a forward-facing mouth. While intraspecies variations may be there,

How do they communicate?

There is not much data on how the buffalo fish communicate with each other. This is akin to other fish which do not make any noise.

How big is a buffalo fish?

The buffalo fish is around 48 in (121.9 cm) long. It is bulky in nature.

How fast can a buffalo fish swim?

They swim through the water as other fish do. Their fins help them in swimming or gliding through their watery habitat.

How much does a buffalo fish weigh?

The buffalo fish weigh as much as 80 lb (36.2 kg). It is thus a meaty fish. The buffalo fish types are angled, fished, and reared in very large parts of the US along the basin of the Mississippi River. Its meat is well known as a delicacy in all the areas that it is found in. Hence it has immense economic importance as far as fish rearing is concerned.

What are the male and female names of the species?

The buffalo fish male and female are not addressed differently.

What would you call a baby buffalo fish?

Baby buffalo fish would be known as fish fry. When in a juvenile or young state, the buffalo fish fry are consumed by larger fish of all kinds. When they grow larger and age, the buffalo fish are seen to be less susceptible to predators. This is also because these fish are very hardy and can survive in less oxygen and hard waters. These are areas that are not inhabited by too many larger fish as fish need enough oxygen dissolved in water to survive.

What do they eat?

The smallmouth buffalo fish feeds on the aquatic matter which it picks up from the bottom of the ponds or lakes that it resides in. This is mostly true of all kinds of buffalo fish that are able to scrape off living aquatic matter from the sides of the rocks that are present on the water bodies. The diet consists of zooplankton, insect larvae as well as small crustaceans. They also eat plant matter from the aquatic vegetation found in the bottom of the freshwater bodies that they live in.

Are they eaten by humans?

Yes, buffalo fish has a sweet, lean flesh that is often baked, sautéed, grilled, or poached. In fact, smoked buffalo fish taste amazing. However, if it isn't cooked properly, it can cause buffalo fish haff disease.

Would they make a good pet?

Fresh water buffalo fish is not very shapely or beautiful to look at. They are reared more for their tasty meat as compared to anything else. It is also very bulky and would not be ideal for normal aquariums. This is why buffalo fish would not make a very good pet.

Did you know...

To fish for buffalo fish you need to go to freshwater sources. These could be dams, lakes, ponds, or even freshwater running streams. These fish are native to the Ohio, Mississippi as well as Missouri basins. Many folks even rear these fish in artificial tanks.

The buffalo fish is generally caught with a sinker and a line. There is no specific prescribed way of fishing for buffalo. One must however ensure that the hook goes deep into the waters where the buffalo fish reside. There are a number of bait types used by anglers for fishing. The best are pieces of dough or bread which the buffalo fish seem to delight in. Other types are insect larvae, grasshoppers, and crickets. These types of bait can be easily procured by anglers and used to bait for fishing.

You must stand close to the shore for fishing or if you are wearing suitable boots you can venture into the shallow side of the pool of water. Throw in the line with the hook into the water and wait for the buffalo fish to bite the bait. You will feel a tug when the buffalo bites the bait. Be careful to quickly lift the line with the fish at the bottom as soon as you feel it biting and getting caught by the bait.

What record did a bigmouth buffalo fish break?

The maximum age for the buffalo fish was 26 years old. But, thanks to the bomb radiocarbon dating, a bigmouth buffalo fish was found that lived to 112 years and broke the previous record.

How many species of buffalo fish are there?

There are five species of buffalo fish, the Bigmouth buffalo, Black buffalo, Fleshylip buffalo, Smallmouth buffalo, and Usumacinta buffalo.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other fishes from our sandfish facts and Siamese fighting fish facts pages.

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

Written By
Team Kidadl

The Kidadl Team is made up of people from different walks of life, from different families and backgrounds, each with unique experiences and nuggets of wisdom to share with you. From lino cutting to surfing to children’s mental health, their hobbies and interests range far and wide. They are passionate about turning your everyday moments into memories and bringing you inspiring ideas to have fun with your family.

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