• Family: Amiidae (Bowfin)
• Other Names: Dogfish, mudfish, grindel, choupique
• Ohio Status: Sport fish
• Adult Size: Males typically 18-24 inches and can reach 27 inches. Males usually weigh 1-3 pounds but can reach 5 pounds. Females typically 24-30 inches and can reach 36 inches. Females usually weigh 3-5 pounds but can reach 12 pounds.
• Typical Foods: Feed primarily on crayfish and dead or injured fish but will eat anything they can get a hold of if given the chance.
The bowfin is a robust fish with a long dorsal fin that covers over half the length of its body. This fin is dark green and has two horizontal stripes on it. They are often mistaken for the exotic northern snakehead but can easily be distinguished by having only a long dorsal fin and a short rounded anal fin, rather than having both a long dorsal and anal fin like the northern snakehead. Bowfin are native and can be released, however if a northern snakehead is found it SHOULD NOT be released you should contact your local wildlife officer about what to do with the fish. The bowfin has a rounded tail fin and adult males have a very prominent black spot with a gold halo around the spot at the base of the tail. Males have bright turquoise green on their pelvic, pectoral, anal, and the lower half of their tail fins. They are usually dark brown in color with a cream colored belly and do not have barbells around the mouth. They have tubular nostrils that may appear like two very short barbells on the top of their snout. Young fish may have a pattern of wavy lines or blotches on their side.
Habitat and Habits
The bowfin is native to Ohio, and is found primarily in large natural lakes, rivers, oxbows, embayments or other systems where clear water and abundant rooted aquatic vegetation is present. Bowfin can withstand turbidity from algal blooms, but not from clay silts. They are most abundant in the bays and marshes of the western basin of Lake Erie in Ohio.
Reproduction and Care of the Young
Bowfin spawn in the spring. Males build nests in aquatic vegetation often near a large log and guard the eggs. Once hatched the male guards the young for about a month, which is longer than any other species of fish in North America. The young swim in a tightly packed swarm for the period they are guarded by the male. The male will aggressively defend the young attacking anything he sees as a threat.