Black Buffalo
  • Side view adult.
  • Side view adult.
  • Side view adult.
  • Top view adult.
  • Bottom view adult.
  • Head-on view adult.
  • Close-up flank.
  • Close-up head.
  • Mouth/Snout
  • Close-up tail.
  • Close-up dorsal fin.
  • Close-up anal fin.
  • Close-up pectoral fin.
  • Close-up pelvic fin.
  • Close-up of head: The lines are indicating distances: eye-preopercle corner, eye-upper gill cleft, E-PC < E-UGC.
  • Close-up of mouth: Notice the thick lips with gooves, inferior mouth and no barbels.
  • Side view: Notice the rounded back without clear hump, depth 29-38% of SL, head 26-34% of SL, the sides are dark.
  • Close-up anal fin: Notice that the anal fin is darkly pigmented; there is no spine and 8-9 rays.
  • Close-up of head: Notice the inferior mouth.
  • Close-up pelvic fin: Notice that the pelvic fins are darkly pigmented.
  • Close-up of dorsal fin: Notice that there is no spine and 27-31 rays.
  • Head-on view: Notice the minute tubercles on the head.
  • Close-up of head: Notice the minute tubercles on the head.
  • Alternate side view.
  • Alternate side view.
  • Alternate side view.
  • Hybrid of Smallmouth X Black Buffalo (?): Notice the intermediate body shape and the mouth position.
  • Hybrid of Smallmouth X Black Buffalo (?): Notice the intermediate body shape and the mouth position.
DescriptionSimilar Species
Family
Suckers (Catostomidae)
Body
Mouth and snout: Infertior, no teeth on jaws. No barbels. Body patterning, color, and scales: Solid color. Body overall dark olive, dark gray, or dusky black, grading from darkest on the dorsal surface to lightest on the belly. Fins heavily and darkly pigmented. 36-39 cycloid lateral line scales. Body shape and size: Body somewhat laterally compressed and moderately deep; oval to almost round cross section. Typically 400-500 mm (16-20 in) TL; maximum observed Wisconsin about 800 mm (32 in).
Fins
Tail, dorsal and other fins: Forked tail. Single dorsal with no spines and 27-31 rays; first few rays elongated (about 25-50% of dorsal fin base). Pelvic fins abdominal. Adipose fin absent. Anal fin with 8-9 rays.
Distinguishing Characteristics
The black buffalo can be distinguished by its lack of a serrated spine at the front of the dorsal and anal fins, its number of anal rays (8-10) and dorsal rays (24-32), by its number of lateral line scales (34-39), by its lack of barbels, by the ratio of the distance from the eye to the ventro-posterior angle of the pre-opercle to the distance from the eye to dorso-posterior edge of the gill opening, which is distinctly less than one, by the lack of a fontanelle (hole) in the roof of the skull between the eyes, a robust, reinforced-opposite-the-teeth pharyngeal arch, and by a longitudinal, parallel pattern of the intestine. See also similar species information.
Breeding Adults
Males sometimes with minute tubercles on head, scales, an anterior pelvic rays.
Juveniles
Very small specimens are less deep-bodied with a relatively larger eye. Note that juvenile smallmouth buffalo and black buffalo are nearly impossible to distinguish, as body profile differences are minimal at small sizes (< 200 mm TL).
Hybrids
Smallmouth buffalo X Black buffalo; bigmouth buffalo X black buffalo plausible but unconfirmed from Wisconsin.
Compare Similar Species
Mouth
Buffalo, BigmouthTerminal; lips thin with shallow grooves
Buffalo, BlackSubterminal or inferior; lips thick with deep grooves
Buffalo, SmallmouthInferior; lips thick with deep grooves
Body Profile
Buffalo, BigmouthDeep bodied, but back more rounded and not as steeply arched as for smallmouth buffalo; BD 30-42% of SL; HL 28-38% of SL
Buffalo, BlackSomewhat deep-bodied, but less so and more elongated than other buffalos; back rounded without a distinctive arch or ridge; BD 29-38% of SL; HL 26-34% of SL; smallmouth buffalo are very difficult to distinguish, except at large sizes (>500mm TL)
Buffalo, SmallmouthVery deep-bodied, sharply arched/ridged back; steep profile from head to dorsal fin, giving a "humped" appearance in lateral view; body depth (BD) about 36-42% of standard length (SL); head length (HL) about 24-29% of SL
Similarity Index
Buffalo, BigmouthModerately similar
Buffalo, BlackN/A
Buffalo, SmallmouthVery similar
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