Amia calva

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Bowfin - Amia calva


Can be found in slower waters which may have less oxygen content and can tolerate high temperatures. They are very commonly found in freshwater.


Great Lakes to St. Lawrence River, Southern Atlantic coast to Florida, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Mississippi River Basin. Most commonly found in the Eastern part of the United States.


Bowfin are a long fish with green coloration on the upper part of the fish and lighter coloration on the lower part. It also has a speckled appearance. It has a very long dorsal fin and rounded pectoral, pelvic, and caudal fins. It has short barbels near its nostrils.

Ecological Notes

This fish is a prehistoric fish and it is the only living member of its family. The male is typically smaller than the female. The male usually also has a characteristic orange spot on its tail. It feeds on several things such as small fish, crayfish, and insects. The males guard the nests which have the eggs in them. They are very protective of their young and will take care of them until they are a certain size.

Personal Information

I saw a bowfin at the aquarium that we visited. This fish looked prehistoric. It did not look like very many of the modern fish that I have seen. If anything it looked similar to a catfish. The barbles on its face are probably what made me think of a catfish. It looked like a mean fish because of how big it was and because of how it swam. It moved kind of like a shark. The bowfin was an intimidating fish which was what made me want to find more information about it.

Journal Articles

Gonzalez, Richard J., et al. "Effect of Air Breathing on Acid-Base and Ion Regulation after Exhaustive Exercise and during Low pH Exposure in the Bowfin, Amia calva." Physiological & Biochemical Zoology 74.4 (2001): 502. Academic Search Complete. EBSCO. Web. 29 Apr. 2010.

This article was about the effects of pH and breathing air on bowfin.

Youson, J. H., and D. G. Butler. "Fine Structure of the Adrenocortical Homolog and the Corpuscles of Stannius of Amia calva L." Acta Zoologica 57.(1976): 217-230. Academic Search Complete. EBSCO. Web. 29 Apr. 2010.

This article was about the function and structure of corpuscles in the kidneys of bowfin.

Information collected by Katie Huff, 2010

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