Size3.6 feet (109 cm)
DietAny type of fish
HabitatSluggish waters, swamps, sloughs, pools, backwaters of lowland streams
- Bowfin has a long, nearly cylindrical body and a large head.
- A long dorsal fin extends more than half the length of the back.
- Mouth is large and is equipped with sharp teeth.
- This species is olive to brown dorsally and cream-yellow ventrally. There are darker wavy bands on its dorsal and caudal fins.
- Male has a spot rimmed with orange-yellow at the top of the caudal fin. The female will have either no spot, or the orange-yellow rimming is absent.
- Bowfin can reach 3.6 feet (109 cm) and 21.5 lbs. (9.75 kg).
A bowfin is a very primitive fish and therefore is often referred to as a “living fossil.”
- A voracious feeder consuming all types of fishes, which make up about 80 percent of the diet. Crayfish are also a common prey. The remains of several species of birds, snakes, salamanders, and snails also have been found in the stomachs of individual bowfin.
- Bowfin can be quite effective in keeping populations of other fish species in check.
- Bowfin occurs from the Mississippi River drainage eastward to the St. Lawrence River and south from Texas to Florida.
- Found in sluggish waters, swamps, sloughs, pools and backwaters of lowland streams, usually near rooted vegetation.
- “Not Evaluated” on the IUCN Red List.
- This species has a number of common names used locally, including “dogfish,” “mudfish,” “grindle,” “prairie bass,” “cypress bass,” “cypress trout,” “cottonfish,” “scaly cat” and “mudjack.”
- Bowfin is a very primitive fish and therefore is often referred to as a “living fossil.”
- Its swim bladder functions as a lung that enables it to live in oxygen-poor waters. In extreme conditions, it can live out of water for a day as long as its body and gills remain wet.
- In parts of the South, the eggs of this fish are marketed as caviar, specifically, “Choupique Royale.”
- Though not considered a sport fish, bowfin will take a hook and are considered strong fighters on light tackle.
- Fishes of Alabama. Bochung, H.T.; Mayden, R.L., pgs. 120 -121
- Peterson’s Field Guides – Freshwater Fishes. Page, L.M.; Brooks M., pgs. 31-32
- McClane’s Field Guide to Freshwater Fishes of North America. McClane, A.J., pgs. 178 -179