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Fish

Bowfins

  

Family: Amiidae - Bowfins

Distribution and Habitat

N = Native, I = Introduced (exotic), X = Extinct, P = Extirpated

Image/Link Scientific Name Common Name Lake Superior Lake Michigan

Lake Huron

Lake Erie Lake Ontario Habitat
Bowfin Amia calva bowfin   N N N N river/littoral

Table modified from "The Life of the Lakes: A Guide to the Great Lakes Fishery" MI Sea Grant Extension, Michigan State University.

Species Profile


Amia calva - bowfin

Bird icon indicates a link to a non-GLERL NOAA site  Profile - WI Sea Grant
Globe icon indicates link to a non-NOAA site.  Profile - Fish of Indiana
Globe icon indicates link to a non-NOAA site.  Profile - Fishes of Minnesota
Globe icon indicates link to a non-NOAA site.  Profile - Fishes of New York State

Bird icon indicates a link to a non-GLERL NOAA site  Scientific Profile - Fishes of Wisconsin
Globe icon indicates link to a non-NOAA site.  Scientific Profile - University of Michigan, Museum of Zoology

The bowfin may be distinguished from all other fishes of the region by the long dorsal fin that arches in a bow over most of the back of the fish. Bowfins come to the surface every few minutes to breathe air. They use their swim bladder as if it were a lung. They also use gills to breath in the water. Young eat algae, zooplankton, and small insects. Adults are voracious consumers of fish, although they will also eat crayfish, small rodents, snakes, turtles, and leeches. Length to 39 inches. The angling record for this fish in Minnesota is 4.6 kg (10 lbs 15 oz).

Bowfin drawing

GLERL Waterlife Photo Gallery

Young-of-the-year bowfin photo

Globe icon indicates link to a non-NOAA site.  Fishes of Minnesota

Other drawings/artwork:
Globe icon indicates link to a non-NOAA site.  US Fish and Wildlife Service
Globe icon indicates link to a non-NOAA site.  Fish of Indiana
Globe icon indicates link to a non-NOAA site.  Fishes of New York State

Other photos:
Bird icon indicates a link to a non-GLERL NOAA siteWI Sea Grant
Globe icon indicates link to a non-NOAA site.  Fishes of Minnesota

ID Snakehead versus Bowfin

The Northern snakehead (Channa argus - Family Channidae) is an exotic species which has an appearance similar to the bowfin. A northern snakehead was caught in Lake Michigan in October of 2004 but the species is not believed to be established in the Great Lakes. Any sighting of a northern snakehead should be immediately reported to your local conservation officer or Sea Grant office. Do not return snakehead to the water!

Globe icon indicates link to a non-NOAA site.  MI DNR - ID of Snakehead versus common native species

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