Centenarian lifespans of three freshwater fish species in Arizona reveal the exceptional longevity of the buffalofishes (Ictiobus)

Sci Rep. 2023 Oct 20;13(1):17401. doi: 10.1038/s41598-023-44328-8.


During the 1910s three buffalofish species (Catostomidae: Ictiobus cyprinellus, I. bubalus, I. niger) were reared in ponds along the Mississippi River. Individuals of these buffalofishes were transported to locations across the United States to support or establish commercial fisheries, including Roosevelt Lake, Arizona in 1918. During the 1930s-1960s a commercial fishery existed on Roosevelt Lake, ending by 1970. Scarce information exists on Arizona buffalofishes since. From 2018 to 2023 we studied buffalofishes from nearby Apache Lake (adjacent and downstream of Roosevelt Lake) in collaboration with anglers. Here we show that > 90% of buffalofishes captured from Apache Lake are more than 80 years old and that some of the original buffalofishes from the Arizona stocking in 1918 are likely still alive. Using unique markings on old-age buffalofishes, we demonstrate how individuals are identified and inform dozens of recaptures. We now know all species of USA Ictiobus can live more than 100 years, making it the only genus of animal besides marine rockfishes (Sebastes) for which three or more species have been shown to live > 100 years. Our citizen-science collaboration has revealed remarkable longevity for freshwater fishes and has fundamentally redefined our understanding of the genus Ictiobus itself.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arizona
  • Centenarians
  • Cypriniformes*
  • Fisheries
  • Fishes
  • Humans
  • Lakes
  • Longevity*