Black Buffalo occur throughout the Mississippi, Ohio, Missouri rivers and adjoining drainages. They prefer larger rivers and flowing waters. Buffalo are found in a variety of water conditions, and bottom types, provided current is present.
Black Buffalo have small mouths ending just below the snout. Their bodies are more elongated than other buffalo, with the greatest depth being approximately one third the body length. Color is typically a bluish-gray to dark brown along the back, fading to a lighter shade along the sides. Bellies tend to a yellowish hue. Buffalo can reach lengths approaching three feet and live over 20 years.
Spawning occurs April or May, lasting four or five days. They typically match up two males to one female. Being broadcast spawners they scatter their adhesive eggs over the bottom and provide no further parental care. Eggs hatch in 24 to 36 hours.
Their diet consists of plankton, insect larvae, and vegetation. They also consume snails and other small mollusks, at times in large quantities. In Arizona reservoirs, one main food item is the introduced Asiatic clam.
Black Buffalo in Texas
Black buffalo resembles its cousin, the bigmouth buffalo, but has a smaller, nearly horizontal mouth and thicker lips. The front of the upper lip lies well below the lower margin of the eye, and the upper jaw is as long or longer than the eye's diameter. The body of a black buffalo is typically thicker than that of a smallmouth buffalo, but not as deep. Coloring is similar to the bigmouth buffalo, but usually a little darker. Ictiobus is Greek for "bull fish", while niger is Latin for "dark" or "black.
Like other buffalo species, the black buffalo appears to spawn in shallow water during spring. This species occurs more often in strong currents, which gives rise to its common name, "current buffalo." Adults may reach weights of 50 pounds.
In Texas, scattered specimens have been found in the Rio Grande, Colorado, Brazos, Sabine, and Red River basins.
Buffalo will sometimes take dough baits made with cottonseed meal, and when hooked, provide exceptional sport. Black buffalo are infrequently caught in Texas.
Courtesy of Texas Parks and Wildlife