Smallmouth Buffalo Fish Facts

smallmouth buffalo fish

The smallmouth buffalo fish is a freshwater fish that is found in the United States. It is a member of the sucker family, and it has a long, slender body with a large head. The buffalo fish can grow up to two feet in length, and it has a brownish-gray coloration with markings on its sides.

This fish is a carnivore, and it feeds on small fish, insects, and crustaceans. The buffalo fish is a popular gamefish, and it can be found in many of the country’s rivers and streams. It is also used for commercial fishing purposes.

The fish are a type of ray-finned bony fish that have fleshy, lobe-like fins. They are indigenous to the Americas with species being found in North America and South America.

Origin and description

smallmouth buffalo fish

Buffalo fish is a type of freshwater fish that is found in North America. The fish gets its name from the large, bony bumps on its head that resemble the horns of a buffalo. Buffalo fish are typically dark gray or black in color with a white underside. They can grow up to four feet in length and weigh up to 60 pounds.

They have a long, cylindrical body that is flat on the bottom and tapers to a blunt tail at the back of their bodies. Their mouths are full of sharp teeth which they use for catching prey as well as fighting off predators when necessary.

Smallmouth buffalo fish are a carnivorous species that feed on small fish, invertebrates, and other aquatic creatures. They are an important part of the food chain in their habitats and are preyed upon by larger fish, birds, and mammals.

Species profile

smallmouth buffalo fish

The species is a freshwater fish and it holds the scientific name Ictiobus cyprinellus. It has also been called by several other names including common carp, Mississippi buffalo, blondie, and silvery buffalo.

Unfortunately, they failed to consider the impact on other things when introducing these new fish into their ecosystem.

Heros notatus (Spotted Severum)

Buffalo Fish are native species of North America and will attack smaller fish aggressively, even if it is not food for them. They eat plants too which can make river systems unusable for recreation or other activities.

The Ictiobus cyprinellus can grow up to a whopping 54 inches in length and weigh over 88 pounds, making them the largest species of buffalo fish.

Color and appearance

Their body is a silvery color and they have scales that are very small. They also have long spines on the dorsal fin and pectoral fins along with their large size, making them easy to spot in open water areas.

They spend most of their time at the bottom of rivers or other bodies of water because this is where they find their food. They are not a fast swimmer but they can move quickly when they need to.

Range and habitat

The buffalo fish are found in the United States and Canada, mainly in the Mississippi River system. They have also been introduced to other areas of North America including Atlantic Coast drainages from Nova Scotia, southward to Florida; Gulf Coast drainages from southern Alabama through most coastal river systems draining into the northern gulf basins west to Texas; Pacific coast drainages from southwestern Oregon through California; and drainages of the Hudson Bay basin.

They prefer warm water but can live in temperatures that vary between 55 degrees Fahrenheit to 75 degrees Fahrenheit, although they will not be able to reproduce below 60 degrees F waters. They like river channels with sand or gravel bottoms where their food is plentiful. Although they can live in other water habitats, they are not as successful.


The average size of a full-grown buffalo fish is about 36 inches in length and weighs between 12 to 20 pounds. However, there have been some reports of larger fish being caught. The largest Ictiobus cyprinellus on record was caught in Louisiana and measured in at 54 inches long and weighed 88 pounds!

Tank size

The recommended size for a home aquarium is 100 gallons, with the buffalo fish being one of the few exceptions that can live in smaller tanks. However, because they are so large and have been known to jump out of their tank make sure it has a lid or you will lose your pet!

Maylandia callainos (Cobalt Blue Cichlid)

Life cycle

The life cycle of the buffalo fish is similar to that of other species in the carp family. Spawning takes place in late spring or early summer when water temperatures reach about 68 degrees Fahrenheit. The male and female fish release their eggs and sperm into the water, where fertilization occurs.

After hatching, the baby fish spend a few months in the water and eventually move to a nearby stream. Buffalo fish can grow as long as two feet and weigh more than 25 pounds.

Are they aggressive or peaceful?

Buffalo fish are usually peaceful, but they can become aggressive when competing for food or mates. They have been known to attack other fish species, as well as birds and turtles.

Buffalo fish care

smallmouth buffalo fish

If you are new to keeping buffalo fish, there are a few things you need to know in order to provide them with the best care possible. Below is a list of tips for caring for these fish.

What they eat

Buffalo fish are herbivores. They primarily feed on algae in the wild, though they will eat some type of plant matter when their natural food source is not available. You can purchase special buffalo fish pellets to feed them, or you may choose to give them a diet that consists mostly of vegetables and low-protein foods like lettuce leaves or blanched zucchini.

You can also feed your buffalo fish frozen or live brine shrimp, bloodworms, or other types of small live prey. However, it is important to only give them a small amount of food each day so that they do not become overweight. Overfeeding can lead to health problems for buffalo fish.

Tank mates

Buffalo fish are generally not aggressive towards other fish and can be kept in a community tank with other peaceful species. However, there are a few things to keep in mind when choosing tank mates for your fish.

First, make sure that the other fish you choose are of a similar size to your buffalo fish. If you have a small fish in a tank with larger fish, the smaller fish will become food for its tank mates.

Tiger Loach Fish "Syncrossus Hymenophysa"

Second, choose species that do not nip at or eat algae and vegetation (like cichlids). This goes back to buffalo fish’s natural diet; if there is no algae or plant life available, they might turn on their vegetarian tank mate.

Water conditions

Buffalo fish are native to fresh water in Africa. They can tolerate a wide range of water conditions, but they do best when the pH is between six and eight; slightly acidic or neutral, with moderately hard to hard water will work best for them. The specific gravity should be at around 1.35 and the water temperature should be kept between 72 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

If your tank’s water conditions do not meet these requirements, you can try to adjust them using a water conditioner or buffering agent specifically made for fish tanks. However, it is important to note that buffalo fish are not very tolerant of changes in their environment. If you notice that your buffalo fish are staying at the bottom of the tank or have stopped eating, this may be a sign that something is wrong with the water conditions, and you should consult an aquarium professional to find out how to solve it as soon as possible.


smallmouth buffalo fish

Buffalo fish are not bred in captivity very often. In the wild, they breed during certain months of the year when water conditions and temperatures allow for it (most often between March and July). When the weather is right, a female buffalo fish will release her eggs into open waters where males can fertilize them via spawning behavior.

If you are interested in breeding buffalo fish, you will need to provide them with a tank that is at least 200 gallons and has plenty of places for the adults to hide. You will also need to supply them with a diet that consists mostly of live food. Lastly, you will need to mimic the natural water conditions as closely as possible.

If all of these conditions are met, your buffalo fish may reproduce. The fry (newborn fish) will be able to eat algae right away and do not need any special care. However, it is important to note that most buffalo fish do not breed in captivity and the chances of success are slim. If you are not successful, don’t worry; these fish are resilient so you can try again in a few months.

Tiger Barb Fish Care (Puntigrus tetrazona)


Buffalo fish have a lifespan of around eight to ten years in captivity. However, this can vary depending on the water conditions, diet, and tank mates they are kept with.

If you take good care of your buffalo fish and meet all their needs, they should live a long and healthy life.

Parasites and diseases

Like all fish, buffalo fish are susceptible to parasites and diseases. Some of the most common include ich, velvet disease, and fin rot.

If you notice any abnormal behavior or physical changes in your buffalo fish, take them to a qualified aquarium professional as soon as possible. Do not try to treat them yourself; many commercial medications available over the counter are not safe for fish.


In the wild, buffalo fish are preyed upon by a number of different animals including crocodiles and large catfish.

If you have predators in your home that might be interested in eating your buffalo fish (such as cats or dogs), it is important to take precautions so they do not get into the tank. You can buy predator nets from your local aquarium supply store or use a fish tank cover to protect your fish from any potential predators.

Do they make good pets?

Buffalo fish are not very popular as pets which is why they are often sold for less than other aquarium species. However, if you have the money and time to invest in them, buffalo fish can make great additions to your home or office.


Buffalo fish are a unique aquarium species that have many different requirements. They need water conditions and temperatures that mimic their natural range, they eat mostly live food, and you will need to provide them with plenty of space to swim around in. If all these things are met, your buffalo fish should be happy for years to come!