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Three species of the genus Ictiobus occur m Iowa waters; the bigmouth buffalo, Ictiobus cyprinellus, the black buffalo, Ictiobus niger, and the smallmouth buffalo, lctiobus bubalus. Of these three species the bigmouth buffalo is the most common in the Northwest Iowa lakes, the remaining two species are comparatively rare. Bigmouth buffalo (hereafter referred to as buffalo) have been removed from Iowa lakes as undesirable and obnoxious fish since the early nineteen hundreds. Harlan and Speaker (1951) state that nearly a half million pounds are removed from the inland waters of the state each year by the State Conservation Commission. In spite of the apparent abundance and commercial importance of this largest member of the sucker family, there is relatively little specific information concerning the food of this species. In fact, all statements in regard to the food of buffalo have been general in nature and apparently founded on casual observations of a few fish. Forbes and Richardson ( 1920) examined 17 buffalo with results recorded as follows: "About a third of the food of seventeen specimens consisted of algae, seeds of aquatic plants and distillery slops ... Of the remaining two-thirds, nearly half consisted of Entomostraca, and more than half of aquatic insects, very largely Chironomus larvae and the larvae of day-flies." Everman and Clark (1920) examined one buffalo from Lake Maxinkukee, finding: "Its stomach filled to distension with chironomus larvae and the remains of algae, the latter so digested as to be incapable of identification." Eddy and Surber (1947) state that buffalo feed largely on molluscs, insect larvae and vegetation. These and similar statements have led to the assumption that buffalo are primarily bottom feeders and thus not too far removed from carp in their food and feeding habits. Data from the present study do not be.ar out this assumption.

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Proceedings of the Iowa Academy of Science





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©1954 Iowa Academy of Science, Inc.



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