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  Family Amiidae   

Family Amiidae--Bowfin Family

Bowfins have one dorsal fin that covers more than half of their total length. They have a large bony plate between their lower jaws. The bowfin and gars are remnants of an ancient group of fishes that was ancestral to most of today's fishes. Amia calva is the only living species in this family.

bowfin -- Amia calva
The body is stout and cylindrical. The tail fin is rounded, with the rear part of the backbone turned upward and extending partway into the upper portion of the fin. Teeth are present in the mouth. Each nostril has a barbel-like flap. Fins do not have spines. This fish is often found in swamps, sloughs, ditches and oxbow lakes. The bowfin is active at night, hunting fishes and crayfish. The gas bladder functions as a supplement to the gills, and a bowfin may be seen gulping air at the surface. The bowfin spawns from early April into early June. Males construct a nest by biting and rubbing vegetation in a shallow area and fanning away silt. These actions leave a clean area on the bottom to which the eggs are attached. Males stay with the eggs and the fry for a time after they hatch. Maturity is reached at two or three years of age. Individuals may live for about ten years and reach a length of slightly over three feet.

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