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primitive freshwater fish found in the Mississippi basin, the Great Lakes, and E to Vermont. The bowfin has a light covering of rounded, overlapping scales, a large mouth, and sharp teeth. Its swim bladder is capable of functioning as a lung, and the bowfin can survive out of water for a day. It prefers sluggish water and surfaces occasionally to gulp air. The female, up to 2 ft (60 cm) long, lays eggs. The smaller male builds the nest and guards the young after they hatch. Bowfins are also called freshwater dogfish; they are voracious and destructive feeders on fish and invertebrates and are sometimes cannibalistic. As game fish they are good fighters, but they are not regarded as food fish in most parts of the United States. Bowfins are classified in the phylum ChordataChordata
, phylum of animals having a notochord, or dorsal stiffening rod, as the chief internal skeletal support at some stage of their development. Most chordates are vertebrates (animals with backbones), but the phylum also includes some small marine invertebrate animals.
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, subphylum Vertebrata, class Actinopterygii, order Amiiformes, family Amiidae.



(Amia calva), the only living representative of Amiidae of the superorder Holostei. The bowfin grows up to 60 cm long. The scales are cycloidal; the air bladder is alveolate and serves as a supplementary breathing organ. The fish inhabits shallow, extremely overgrown, and marsh-ridden bodies of water of North America, south of the Great Lakes. It feeds on invertebrates and small fish. The bowfin spawns in spring; the male builds the nest and guards the eggs and young. The newly hatched fish have an adhesive organ on their heads, with which they attach themselves to the nest walls. The female lays 20,000–70,000 eggs. The bowfin has almost no commercial value.


(vertebrate zoology)
Amia calva. A fish recognized as the only living species of the family Amiidae. Also known as dogfish; grindle; mudfish.