Know your fish | Bull Huss

The bull huss is a dogfish. Its other names are nursehound, greater spotted dogfish and larger spotted dogfish.

They are mainly nocturnal species – during the day they tend to lay ‘asleep’ on the sea bed.

Bull huss can reach lengths of around 1.5m, but generally they are around the 1m mark.

Identification

Bull huss are small sharks, so their shape is quite recognisable. They have blunt heads and long bodies.

You will find that the two small and rounded dorsal fins are set well back, towards the tail, and the pectoral fins are quite large, which it uses to rest upon when on the sea bed.

The mouth, like all sharks, is on the underside of the head.

The bull huss has many large spots all over its body, while is very similar cousin – the common dogfish – has many more spots, but much smaller and neater.

They are generally a sandy brown colour or even greyish brown, with the underside being a creamy white.

Another way to tell the difference between a bull huss and a common dogfish is to take a look at the mouth. All dogfish have two grooves leading from the nostrils. In the common dogfish these grooves are connected to the mouth. In the bull huss they are not connected.

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Feeding

The great thing about bull huss (and any dogfish) is that they don’t really care about what they eat! They are nocturnal feeders and will pick up and eat almost anything they find on the sea bed, from crabs to molluscs, to small fish and worms.

Almost any bait will tempt a bull huss.

Breeding

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All dogfish lay their eggs within very tough and leathery pale brown cases often called ‘mermaid’s purses’. After the eggs are fertilised by the males they incubate inside the females until they are ready to be laid.

The female lays these purses by attaching them firmly to strands of seaweed – the long curling whiskers leading from each of the four corners of the purse grip the seaweed firmly.

These purses are laid in quite shallow water and they hatch after 6-11 months. This means that the young bull huss are quite large when they hatch. The bull huss will be around 16cm, while the common dogfish are around the 10cm mark.

Mating normally takes place between a single male and a single female during the autumn, the eggs of the common dogfish are laid during November to July, while those of the bull huss are laid between spring and summer.

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