Compared to the smallmouth buffalo, the bigmouth buffalo has a mouth that is oriented more forward than downward.
  • Size

    4 feet (1.3 m)
  • Diet

    Small fish, plants, small invertebrates
  • Range

    North America
  • Habitat

    Rivers, lakes and channels

Physical Characteristics

  • Coloration is bluish-green on the back, shading to coppery-blue sides and a light, bluish-grey belly.
  • Deeply rounded body with a large head and a sucker-type mouth with large lips. Mouth oriented forward rather than downward, distinguishing this species from other buffalo fish.
  • Maximum length of approximately 4 feet (1.3 m) and maximum weight of 70 lbs. (32 kg).
  • Name refers to the size of its mouth in relationship to other species of buffalo.

Animal Fact

The bigmouth buffalo's name refers to the size of its mouth in relationship to other species of buffalo.

Diet / Feeding

  • Benthic feeder; diet consists of copepods, cladocerans, bottom plants, aquatic insects, small fish and fish eggs.

Range / Habitat

  • Occurs in North America from the Hudson Bay, the lower Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins and Montana south to Louisiana. It can also be found in river basins from Ontario to Saskatchewan in Canada.
  • Mainly inhabits channels, deep pools and backwaters of small to large rivers, as well as lakes and large impoundments. Often found in schools in mid-water and near the bottom.

Reproduction & Growth

  • Reaches sexual maturity at about three years of age.
  • Spawns in the spring.
  • Female scatters about 400,000 eggs over the bottom in shallow water.

Conservation Status

  • “Not evaluated” on the IUCN Red List.

Additional Information

  • Similar to the smallmouth buffalo, but with a mouth that is oriented forward rather than downward.
  • Lifespan of 7-8 years.
  • Predators: northern pikes, black bullheads and walleyes.


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