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Southern Company River Scout



(Amia calva)

The bowfin is a freshwater fish found in the Mississippi River drainage in sluggish waters, swamps and backwater pools. It is a voracious predator with a large mouth and sharp teeth. It preys mostly on other fish, but also has been known to consume birds, snakes and salamanders.

The bowfin is a primitive fish and has been referred to as a “living fossil”. Its swim bladder is connected to its esophagus so this fish can gulp air and survive in oxygen-poor water. It also has been known to survive out of water for as long as a day if its gills and body are kept wet.

Be sure to look for the bowfin in the overhead habitat in the River Scout gallery.

Fun Facts

  • The bowfin is characterized by its elongated, cylindrical body and large head.
  • It has a long dorsal fin which extends more than half the length of its back.
  • Loss of habitat in many areas has made this species less common.
  • The bowfin has many common names throughout its range, including: “dogfish”, “mudfish”, “prairie bass” and “cypress bass”.
  • Fishermen have to be very cautious when removing a bowfin from a hook because of its very sharp teeth.
  • Download full fact sheet

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