This species is found in river pools, backwaters, and sluggish current over soft or mildly rocky substrate in creeks, small to larger rivers, and shallow portions of lakes and ponds.. Bullheads are scavengers feeding at night mostly. Their diet includes a variety of plant and animal material, both live and dead, including small fish, crayfish, insects, snails, and worms.
Spawning occurs in May and June with males and females participating in nest building. Nest frequently are built under a log. Up to 7,000 eggs are deposited in the nest and hatch within 5 to 10 days. The fry are guarded by their parents for up to sixty days.
Yellow bullheads are chubby, scaleless fish with an adipose fin. They are typically yellow-olive to a blackish color on the back and sometimes mottled. The sides are lighter in color, often yellowish fading to a light yellow or white on the belly. Eight barbels grace their face and those under the mouth white or yellow colored, which distinguish it from the brown bullhead and black bullhead. Bullheads rarely exceed eighteen inches and a couple pounds.
Yellow Bullhead in Texas
Ameiurus means "primitive or curtailed" in reference to the notch in the distal end of the caudal fin, and natalis is Latin for "having large buttocks." Yellow bullheads are typically light yellow to olive-green on the back, often somewhat mottled. The belly is yellowish to white. The tail is not notched, and may be slightly rounded. Chin barbels are white. The anal fin has 23-27 rays.
During late spring or early summer, yellow bullheads excavate nests in mud bottoms and spawn. Both parents guard the nest, which may contain 2,000 to 12,000 eggs. In four to six days eggs hatch and fry begin to school in compact balls which are guarded by adults until individuals reach about one inch in length. Like the black bullhead, the yellow bullhead is omnivorous, feeding on a variety of plant and animal material, both live and dead. Immature aquatic insects and crustaceans often comprise a considerable proportion of the diet. Although yellow bullheads rarely achieve edible size, some individuals may exceed four pounds.
Like black bullheads, yellow bullheads are not generally considered an important gamefish in Texas, though they are readily fished for by anglers in the Panhandle, and in far East Texas. Angling techniques for the two species are very similar. The largest specimen reported to date in Texas was 5.59 pounds.