|Bigmouth buffalo, Ictiobus cyprinellus|
Ictiobus, also known as buffalo fish or simply buffalo, is a genus of freshwater fish common in the United States, but also found in Canada, Mexico and Guatemala. They are the largest North American suckers, reaching up to 1.23 m (4.0 ft) in length. They are sometimes mistaken for carps because of the flat face and large, silver scales running along the body, though they lack the whisker-like mouth appendages common to carp. Buffalo fish live in most types of freshwater bodies where panfish are found, such as ponds, creeks, rivers, and lakes. Ictiobus was caught by the Lewis and Clark Expedition.
From a fishermen's point of view, the buffalo fish is not a popular game fish because it is difficult to catch. Yet, once on the line, it can put up a good fight. The preferred method of catch is by the use of gill nets. These nets are set by hand during the night where it is most effective. It is an affordable fish that is popular in the southern U.S. including the Memphis and St. Louis markets.
There are currently five recognized species in the genus:
- Ictiobus bubalus (Rafinesque, 1818) (Smallmouth buffalo)
- Ictiobus cyprinellus (Valenciennes, 1844) (Bigmouth buffalo)
- Ictiobus labiosus (Meek, 1904) (Fleshylip buffalo)
- Ictiobus meridionalis (Günther, 1868) (Usumacinta buffalo)
- Ictiobus niger (Rafinesque, 1819) (Black buffalo)
- "Ictiobus". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 6 June 2006.
- Ictiobinae Research - Ictiobus
- In Héctor Tobar's 2010 novel Barbarian Nurseries, James "Sweet Hands" Washington remains as the only African-American in a now Hispanic neighborhood because "[He] could still take a couple of buses and find the last place in South Los Angeles that served Louisiana buffalo fish." (p. 182)
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