Saturday, March 24, 2012

Walking Catfish

Clarias batrachus
Today we're going to be learning about yet another animal that has entered the pet trade... but with some damaging results.

Walking Catfish in their native environment aren't all that bad. They hail from Southeast Asia, and live in a variety of freshwater habitats. They can even be found in waters that other fish will not tolerate well, like canals, flooded areas, and even in brackish zones.

The common name of this species come from the fact that they can "walk" across land. Their pectoral fins allow them to stay upright while they move outside of the water. The movement is far from graceful, but it does let the fish move between different bodies of water.

Walking Catfish are omnivores, and use their barbels to hunt around for anything and everything. They are generalist feeders, consume plant matter, eggs, small fish, and invertebrates. The Catfish themselves are fished for food in their native range.

Back in the 1960s, individuals in the pet industry decided to bring Walking Catfish to Florida. Fish either escaped or were intentionally released into the wild, and now they are considered a dangerous invasive species. They are hurting local fish farms as well as the native species, due to their ability to move outside of water, their hardy disposition, their voracious appetite, and the fact that they carry Enteric Septicemia (ESC). Since the 1960s they have also moved into a handful of other states as well. It is now illegal to own one of these fish in the United States without a federal permit.

IUCN Status : Not Evaluated
Location : South East Asia
Size : Length around 1ft (30cm)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Actinopterygii -- Order : Siluriformes
Family : Clariidae -- Genus : Clarias -- Species : C. batrachus

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