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smallmouth buffalo

smallmouth buffalo (Ictiobus bubalus) Photo © Uland Thomas

Features and Behaviors


The smallmouth buffalo may attain an average length of 15 to 30 inches. Its deep body has a small, cone-shaped head, a small mouth and large eyes. Grooves are present on the upper lip. The back is gray, green or bronze, the sides are black to yellow-green, and the belly is white to yellow. Fins are green or black. The front of the upper lip is on a level below that of the bottom of the eye. The front part of the back has a keel.


The smallmouth buffalo may be found in the Mississippi, Illinois, Kaskaskia, Ohio and Wabash rivers in Illinois. It spawns in summer. The eggs are scattered over the bottom and are given no parental care. It feeds on whatever is abundant, including small crustaceans, algae and insects.

Illinois Range


Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Cypriniformes
Family: Catostomidae

Illinois Status: common, native