European Bullhead

SONY DSCIt has a bare, non-scaled cylindrical body and a broad flat head. The two dorsal, pectoral, pelvic and anal fins comprise of hard spiky rays. The pectoral fins are broad and rounded, planted at the throat they reach to the anal fins. The caudal fin is rounded. The opercula are armed with spines. The teeth in the jaws are not large. The back is grayish brown with dark ripples, and the belly is yellowish white. It is 8-10 – sometimes up to 12 cm long.

The fish can be encountered in brooks, rivers and desalted sea bays of Europe. It inhabits the entire European part of Russia, with the exception of the rivers in the Kola Peninsula.

It dwells in clean rivers and brooks with a rocky bottom, often below cliffy shores.

The bullhead is a sluggish bottom fish. It leads a secretive life, often hiding in the rocks, cracks in the ground or crevices in the washed-out shore. It is more active during winters. It feeds on ground organisms – insect larvae, crustaceans, roe of fish and frogs. Its spawning season is May. Females lay 100-300 orange eggs into a dug-out nest hole. Males care of the young diligently guarding the nest.

It is rather a twilight fish. Bullheads badly stand pollution, and are to an extent an indicator of water purity. Their life expectancy does not exceed 5-6 years, with maturation during year 3-4 and at the length of 4-5 cm. They mate after the spring flood, and in the temperate zone of Russia their spawning comes on late April or early May. The nest holes are built by males, under snags or rocks. The roe is attached to the surface of such cover; apart from guarding, the male aerates the nest with their pectoral fins. Eggshell-pink eggs are 2-2.5 mm across. In 10°С water, they develop over 4 weeks, and with 15.5°С – over 2.

The species is red-listed in Russia.

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