This stocky catfish has a rounded anal fin containing 17 to 23 rays. The upper jaw is slightly longer than the lower jaw, and chin barbels are black to dark gray. (Dark chin barbells easily separate the young of this species from young of the yellow bullhead, which always have yellow or white barbels.) Teeth on the dorsal and pectoral spines are poorly developed. The back is uniformly dark gray to black, grading to pale yellow or white on the venter. Fins are dusky and occasionally darkened along their margins. Adult size: 10 to 12 inches.