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catfish

catfish, common name applied to members of the fish families constituting the order Siluriformes, found in fresh and coastal waters. Catfish are named for the barbels ( "whiskers" ) around their mouths and have scaleless skins, fleshy, rayless posterior fins, and sharp defensive spines in the shoulder and dorsal fins. They are able to use the swim bladder to produce sounds, and have a complex set of bones forming a sensitive hearing apparatus. Some species, such as the stone and tadpole catfishes and the madtom, can inflict stings by means of poison glands in the pectoral spines. Catfish are usually dull-colored, though the madtoms of E North American streams are brightly patterned. Members of most madtom species are no more than 5 in. (12.7 cm) long; some are less than 2 in. (5 cm) long. Danube catfish called wels, or sheatfish, reach a length of 13 ft (4 m) and a weight of 400 lb (180 kg), and the Mekong giant catfish can reach 10 ft (3 m) and 550 lb (250 kg). Catfish are omnivorous feeders and are valuable scavengers.

Types of Catfish

The South American catfishes show great diversity: There are small, delicate species armored with bony plates; parasitic types that live in the gills of other fish; and one catfish of the E Andes in which the pelvic fins are modified into suckers that enable it to cling to rocks. African species include the electric fish and the Nile catfish, which swims upside down to feed at the water's surface and has a white back and a dark belly, the reverse of the normal coloration.

Of the 30 American species the largest and most important is the blue, or Mississippi, catfish, an excellent food fish weighing up to 150 lb (70 kg). Best known is the smaller channel catfish, which reaches 20 lb (9 kg) and has a deeply forked tail and slender body. The stonecat, 10 in. (25.4 cm) long, is found in clear water under logs and stones. The bullheads, or horned pouts, are catfish of muddy ponds and streams, feeding on bottom plants and animals. Bullheads have square or slightly rounded tails and may reach 1 ft (30 cm) in length and 2 lb (0.9 kg) in weight. The black, yellow, and brown bullhead species are common in the waters of the central and eastern states.

There are no catfish in the Pacific except the introduced white catfish. Marine catfish found during the summer in bays and harbors of the Atlantic and Gulf states include the 2-ft (61-cm) gaff-topsail catfish, named for its long, ribbonlike pectoral and dorsal fins, and the smaller sea catfish, a very common trash fish. The males of both these species carry the fertilized eggs in their mouths (and therefore do not eat) until well after the young hatch, a period of two months. In certain other species the eggs are embedded in the underside of the female. Some tropical catfish survive dry seasons by burrowing into the mud or by crawling overland in search of water.

Classification

Catfishes are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Actinopterygii, order Siluriformes.

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catfish

catfish
1. air-breathing catfish See CLARIIDAE.

2. airsac catfish See HETEROPNEUSTIDAE.

3. armoured catfish See CALLICHTHYIDAE; LORICARIIDAE.

4. See AUCHENIPTERIDAE.

5. bagrid catfish See BAGRIDAE.

6. banjo catfish See ASPREDINIDAE.

7. barbel-less catfish See AGENEIOSIDAE.

8. electric catfish See MALAPTERURIDAE.

9. long-whiskered catfish See PIMELODIDAE.

10. See PANGASIIDAE.

11. parasitic catfish See TRICHOMYCTERIDAE.

12. sea catfish See ARIIDAE.

13. See SCHILBEIDAE.

14. See SISORIDAE.

15. torrent catfish See AMBLYCIPITIDAE.

16. upside-down catfish See MOCHOKIDAE.

17. wels See SILURIDAE.

18. whale catfish See CETOPSIDAE.

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catfish

cat·fish / ˈkatˌfish/ • n. (pl. same or -fishes) a freshwater or marine fish with whiskerlike barbels around the mouth, typically bottom-dwelling. Its many families include the Eurasian family Siluridae and the large North American family Ictaluridae.

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catfish

catfish Any member of a large family of slow-swimming scaleless fish found in tropical and subtropical waters; it has fleshy barbels on the upper jaw, sometimes with venomous spines. Most species live in freshwater and can be farmed. Length: up to 3.3m (10ft). Order Siluriformes.

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catfish

catfish Several types of (mainly North American) freshwater fish that have barbells resembling a cat's whiskers.

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catfish

catfish •raffish • damselfish •catfish, flatfish •garfish, starfish •redfish •elfish, selfish, shellfish •devilfish •crayfish, waifish •stiffish • kingfish • jellyfish •killifish • filefish • pipefish •white fish •offish, standoffish •codfish • dogfish • rockfish • crawfish •swordfish •blowfish, oafish •goldfish •bonefish, stonefish •wolfish •huffish, roughish, toughish •mudfish • monkfish • cuttlefish •lungfish • lumpfish • spearfish •angelfish • parrotfish • silverfish •haggish, waggish •vaguish •biggish, piggish, priggish, whiggish •doggish, hoggish •roguish, voguish •puggish, sluggish, thuggish •largish

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Catfish

Catfish

Catfish include some 2,500 species of mostly freshwaterfish characterized by two to four pairs of whiskers or barbels around their mouth. Many species have spines on the dorsal fins and near the gills. In some species these spines may contain poison.

Catfish belong to the bony fish order Siluriformes, and are mainly freshwater forms with representatives throughout the world. Most species of catfish lack scales, although some species are covered with heavy plates of tough, armored skin. Catfish tend to be hardy and a few species can survive for some time out of water as long as their skin is kept moist by an external layer of mucus.

A few species of catfish live in the oceans, such as the sea catfishes of the family Aridae which are found in tropical and subtropical seas, and in temperate waters during the summer. Catfish vary in size from the pygmy corydoras (Corydoras hastatus ), about 0.8 in (2 cm) long, to the giant catfish (Pangasianodon giga ) of southeastern Asia, which can exceed 7 ft (2.1 m) and weigh 250 lb (113 kg). This group also includes the glass cat-fish (Physailla pellucida ), a popular aquarium fish.

North American freshwater catfish are found from Canada to Guatemala. They are often caught by rod and reel, have considerable commercial importance, and are also raised on fish farms. Catfish live in murky lakes and ponds, feeding on the bottom on both live and dead material. Catfish spawn around May and June. The parents prepare a nest in the

mud or sand. After the eggs hatch the parents guard the nest and protect the young until they have developed enough to become independent.

The most abundant North American catfish are the bullheads, including: the black bullhead (Ictalurus melas ), the brown bullhead (I. nebulosus ), and the yellow bullhead (I. natali ).

Bullheads are plentiful in streams and ponds of North America, from the Atlantic to the Pacific Oceans. Bullheads are thought to have spread naturally from western North America to the east. Adhesive bullhead eggs may have stuck to the legs and feet of aquatic migratory birds, and later washed off when the birds traveled to another pond, thus establishing new populations of these fish.

Rivalling the bullheads in commercial importance in some areas are the channel catfish (I. punctatus ), the blue catfish (I. furcatus ), the white catfish (I. catus ), and the flathead catfish (Pylodictus olivaris ). These species may reach 150 lb (68 kg), although they are usually smaller. Catfish farming is an increasing enterprise in the southern United States, with more than 100 million lb (45.4 million kg) of fish being produced annually.

The diet of the ictalurids is varied since they eat almost anything, dead or alive. People fishing for catfish often use a use stink bait. Such bait can lure catfishes over a wide expanse. Catfish can detect the bait using the extensive sensory surface of their body and their long barbels.

Also included in the North American catfish family are the madtoms in the genus Noturus. These are small fish under 5 in (13 cm) in length. Madtoms have glands associated with spines which can inflict extremely painful stab wounds.

The Eurasian catfish family Siluridae includes the wels (Siluris glanis ), which grows over 12 ft (3.7 m) long and weighs hundreds of pounds. At the other extreme in this family is the glass catfish (Kryptopterus bicirrhus ) of southeastern Asia, which is only 4 in (10 cm) long. The skin and muscles of the glass catfish are transparent enough to display its viscera.

The catfish family Clariidae includes labyrinthic fishes which have evolved a special air-breathing apparatus, found anterior to the gills and equipped with numerous blood vessels. These catfish can stay out of water for an extended period of time as long as their skin is kept moist with mucus. Air-breathing catfish can live in stagnant, low-oxygen water that would be lethal to other species of fish.

The walking catfish (Clarius batrachus ) of southeast Asia walks on dry land by performing snakelike movements, using its pectoral fins as props. In times of severe drought these catfish try to move overland to ponds containing water, or they may dig into the bottom of a pool and wait there for the return of the rains.

The talking catfish (Acanthodoras spinosissimus, family Doradidae) makes a croaking sound, especially when captured. These sounds result from air forced in and out of the swim bladder due to changes in pressure when the pectoral fins flap.

In Africa, electric catfish (Malapterurus electicus, family Malapteruridae) range in size from 8 in (20 cm) to 4 ft (1.2 m) and reach a weight of 50 lb (23 kg). These fish can produce a 100-volt shock followed by lesser shocks, which can stun large fish. In addition to predation and defense, the electrical impulses are used to navigate in turbid water. The electric organs are found along the body and tail, and are derived from glandular cells in the epidermis, rather than from the muscles as occurs in other species of electric fish.

Nathan Lavenda

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Catfish

Catfish

Catfish include some 2,500 species of mostly freshwater fish characterized by two to four pairs of whiskers or barbels around their mouth. Many species have spines on the dorsal fins and near the gills. In some species these spines may contain poison.

Catfish belong to the bony fish order Siluriformes, and are mainly freshwater forms with representatives throughout the world. Most species of catfish lack scales, although some species are covered with heavy plates of tough, armored skin. Catfish tend to be hardy and a few species can survive for some time out of water as long as their skin is kept moist by an external layer of mucus.

A few species of catfish live in the oceans, such as the sea catfishes of the family Aridae which are found in tropical and subtropical seas, and in temperate waters during the summer. Catfish vary in size from the pygmy corydoras (Corydoras hastatus), about 0.8 in (2 cm) long, to the giant catfish (Pangasianodon giga) of southeastern Asia , which can exceed 7 ft (2.1 m) and weigh 250 lb (113 kg). This group also includes the glass catfish (Physailla pellucida), a popular aquarium fish.

North American freshwater catfish are found from Canada to Guatemala. They are often caught by rod and reel, have considerable commercial importance, and are also raised on fish farms. Catfish live in murky lakes and ponds, feeding on the bottom on both live and dead material. Catfish spawn around May and June. The parents prepare a nest in the mud or sand . After the eggs hatch the parents guard the nest and protect the young until they have developed enough to become independent.

The most abundant North American catfish are the bullheads, including: the black bullhead (Ictalurus melas), the brown bullhead (I. nebulosus), and the yellow bullhead (I. natali).

Bullheads are plentiful in streams and ponds of North America , from the Atlantic to the Pacific Oceans. Bullheads are thought to have spread naturally from western North America to the east. Adhesive bullhead eggs may have stuck to the legs and feet of aquatic migratory birds , and later washed off when the birds traveled to another pond, thus establishing new populations of these fish.

Rivalling the bullheads in commercial importance in some areas are the channel catfish (I. punctatus), the blue catfish (I. furcatus), the white catfish (I. catus), and the flathead catfish (Pylodictus olivaris). These species may reach 150 lb (68 kg), although they are usually smaller. Catfish farming is an increasing enterprise in the southern United States, with more than 100 million lb (45.4 million kg) of fish being produced annually.

The diet of the ictalurids is varied since they eat almost anything, dead or alive. People fishing for catfish often use a use "stink bait." Such bait can lure catfishes over a wide expanse. Catfish can detect the bait using the extensive sensory surface of their body and their long barbels.

Also included in the North American catfish family are the madtoms in the genus Noturus. These are small fish under 5 in (13 cm) in length. Madtoms have glands associated with spines which can inflict extremely painful stab wounds.

The Eurasian catfish family Siluridae includes the wels (Siluris glanis), which grows over 12 ft (3.7 m) long and weighs hundreds of pounds. At the other extreme in this family is the glass catfish (Kryptopterus bicirrhus) of southeastern Asia, which is only 4 in (10 cm) long. The skin and muscles of the glass catfish are transparent enough to display its viscera.

The catfish family Clariidae includes labyrinthic fishes which have evolved a special air-breathing apparatus, found anterior to the gills and equipped with numerous blood vessels. These catfish can stay out of water for an extended period of time as long as their skin is kept moist with mucus. Air-breathing catfish can live in stagnant, low-oxygen water that would be lethal to other species of fish.

The walking catfish (Clarius batrachus) of southeast Asia "walks" on dry land by performing snakelike movements, using its pectoral fins as props. In times of severe drought these catfish try to move overland to ponds containing water, or they may dig into the bottom of a pool and wait there for the return of the rains.

The talking catfish (Acanthodoras spinosissimus, family Doradidae) makes a croaking sound, especially when captured. These sounds result from air forced in and out of the swim bladder due to changes in pressure when the pectoral fins flap.

In Africa , electric catfish (Malapterurus electicus, family Malapteruridae) range in size from 8 in (20 cm) to 4 ft (1.2 m) and reach a weight of 50 lb (23 kg). These fish can produce a 100-volt shock followed by lesser shocks, which can stun large fish. In addition to predation and defense, the electrical impulses are used to navigate in turbid water. The electric organs are found along the body and tail, and are derived from glandular cells in the epidermis, rather than from the muscles as occurs in other species of electric fish.

Nathan Lavenda

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