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Temporal range: Late Cretaceous – present 100–0  Ma
Ameiurus melas by Duane Raver.png
Black bullhead
Scientific classification Red Pencil Icon.png
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Superorder: Ostariophysi
Order: Siluriformes
G. Cuvier, 1817
Families [1]

– Extant families -
Ailiidae [2]
Horabagridae [2]

incertae sedis

– Extinct family -


Catfish (or catfishes; order Siluriformes or Nematognathi) are a diverse group of ray-finned fish. Named for their prominent barbels, which resemble a cat's whiskers, catfish range in size and behavior from the three largest species alive, the Mekong giant catfish from Southeast Asia, the wels catfish of Eurasia, and the piraíba of South America, to detritivores (species that eat dead material on the bottom), and even to a tiny parasitic species commonly called the candiru, Vandellia cirrhosa. Neither the armour-plated types nor the naked types have scales. Despite their name, not all catfish have prominent barbels. Members of the Siluriformes order are defined by features of the skull and swimbladder. Catfish are of considerable commercial importance; many of the larger species are farmed or fished for food. Many of the smaller species, particularly the genus Corydoras , are important in the aquarium hobby. Many catfish are nocturnal, [3] [4] but others (many Auchenipteridae) are crepuscular or diurnal (most Loricariidae or Callichthyidae, for example).


Distribution and habitat

Catfish vendor in Ilorin, Kwara Nigerian Fish sellers (13).jpg
Catfish vendor in Ilorin, Kwara

Extant catfish species live inland or in coastal waters of every continent except Antarctica. Catfish have inhabited all continents at one time or another. [5] They are most diverse in tropical South America, Asia, and Africa, with one family native to North America and one family in Europe. [6] More than half of all catfish species live in the Americas. They are the only ostariophysans that have entered freshwater habitats in Madagascar, Australia, and New Guinea. [7]

They are found in freshwater environments, though most inhabit shallow, running water. [7] Representatives of at least eight families are hypogean (live underground) with three families that are also troglobitic (inhabiting caves). [8] [9] One such species is Phreatobius cisternarum , known to live underground in phreatic habitats. [10] Numerous species from the families Ariidae and Plotosidae, and a few species from among the Aspredinidae and Bagridae, are found in salt water. [11] [12]

In the Southern United States, catfish species may be known by a variety of slang names, such as "mud cat", "polliwogs", or "chuckleheads". [13] These nicknames are not standardized, so one area may call a bullhead catfish by the nickname "chucklehead", while in another state or region, that nickname refers to the blue catfish.

As invasive species

Walking catfish is an invasive species in Florida. Clarias batrachus.jpg
Walking catfish is an invasive species in Florida.

Representatives of the genus Ictalurus have been introduced into European waters in the hope of obtaining a sporting and food resource. However, the European stock of American catfishes has not achieved the dimensions of these fish in their native waters, and have only increased the ecological pressure on native European fauna. Walking catfish have also been introduced in the freshwaters of Florida, with the voracious catfish becoming a major alien pest there. Flathead catfish, Pylodictis olivaris, is also a North American pest on Atlantic slope drainages. [6] Pterygoplichthys species, released by aquarium fishkeepers, have also established feral populations in many warm waters around the world. [14] [15] [16] [17] [18]

Physical characteristics

External anatomy of catfish

The armor plates are evident in Corydoras semiaquilus. Corydoras semiaquilus 1.jpg
The armor plates are evident in Corydoras semiaquilus .

Most catfish are bottom feeders. In general, they are negatively buoyant, which means that they will usually sink rather than float due to a reduced gas bladder and a heavy, bony head. [7] Catfish have a variety of body shapes, though most have a cylindrical body with a flattened ventrum to allow for benthic feeding. [7]

A flattened head allows for digging through the substrate as well as perhaps serving as a hydrofoil. Some have a mouth that can expand to a large size and contains no incisiform teeth; catfish generally feed through suction or gulping rather than biting and cutting prey. [7] However, some families, notably Loricariidae and Astroblepidae, have a suckermouth that allows them to fasten themselves to objects in fast-moving water. Catfish also have a maxilla reduced to a support for barbels; this means that they are unable to protrude their mouths as other fish such as carp. [7]

Catfish may have up to four pairs of barbels: nasal, maxillary (on each side of mouth), and two pairs of chin barbels, even though pairs of barbels may be absent depending on the species. Catfish barbels always come as pairs. Many larger catfish also have chemoreceptors across their entire bodies, which means they "taste" anything they touch and "smell" any chemicals in the water. "In catfish, gustation plays a primary role in the orientation and location of food". [19] Because their barbels and chemoreception are more important in detecting food, the eyes on catfish are generally small. Like other ostariophysans, they are characterized by the presence of a Weberian apparatus. [5] Their well-developed Weberian apparatus and reduced gas bladder allow for improved hearing as well as sound production. [7]

Catfish do not have scales; their bodies are often naked. In some species, the mucus-covered skin is used in cutaneous respiration, where the fish breathes through its skin. [7] In some catfish, the skin is covered in bony plates called scutes; some form of body armor appears in various ways within the order. In loricarioids and in the Asian genus Sisor , the armor is primarily made up of one or more rows of free dermal plates. Similar plates are found in large specimens of Lithodoras . These plates may be supported by vertebral processes, as in scoloplacids and in Sisor, but the processes never fuse to the plates or form any external armor. By contrast, in the subfamily Doumeinae (family Amphiliidae) and in hoplomyzontines (Aspredinidae), the armor is formed solely by expanded vertebral processes that form plates. Finally, the lateral armor of doradids, Sisor, and hoplomyzontines consists of hypertrophied lateral line ossicles with dorsal and ventral lamina. [20]

The channel catfish has four pairs of barbels. Channelcat.jpg
The channel catfish has four pairs of barbels.

All catfish, except members of Malapteruridae (electric catfish), possess a strong, hollow, bony leading spine-like ray on their dorsal and pectoral fins. As a defense, these spines may be locked into place so that they stick outwards, which can inflict severe wounds. [6] In numerous different catfish species, these fin rays can be used to deliver a stinging protein if the fish is irritated [21] ; as many as half of all catfish species may be venomous in this fashion, making the Siluriformes overwhelmingly the vertebrate order with the largest number of venomous species. [22] This venom is produced by glandular cells in the epidermal tissue covering the spines. [5] In members of the family Plotosidae, and of the genus Heteropneustes , this protein is so strong it may hospitalize humans who are unfortunate enough to receive a sting; in Plotosus lineatus , the stings can be lethal. [5]

Juvenile catfish, like most fish, have relatively large heads, eyes and posterior median fins in comparison to larger, more mature individuals. These juveniles can be readily placed in their families, particularly those with highly derived fin or body shapes; in some cases identification of the genus is possible. As far as known for most catfish, features that are often characteristic of species such as mouth and fin positions, fin shapes, and barbel lengths show little difference between juveniles and adults. For many species, pigmentation pattern is also similar in juveniles and adults. Thus, juvenile catfishes generally resemble and develop smoothly into their adult form without distinct juvenile specializations. Exceptions to this are the ariid catfishes, where the young retain yolk sacs late into juvenile stages, and many pimelodids, which may have elongated barbels and fin filaments or coloration patterns. [23]

Sexual dimorphism is reported in about half of all families of catfish. [24] The modification of the anal fin into an intromittent organ (in internal fertilizers) as well as accessory structures of the reproductive apparatus (in both internal and external fertilizers) have been described in species belonging to 11 different families. [25]


Giant Bagarius yarrelli (Goonch) caught in India. Some Goonch in the Kali river grow large enough to attack humans and water buffalo. Bagarius yarrelli India.png
Giant Bagarius yarrelli (Goonch) caught in India. Some Goonch in the Kali river grow large enough to attack humans and water buffalo.

Catfish have one of the greatest ranges in size within a single order of bony fish. [7] Many catfish have a maximum length of under 12 cm. [5] Some of the smallest species of Aspredinidae and Trichomycteridae reach sexual maturity at only 1 centimetre (0.39 in). [6]

The wels catfish, Silurus glanis, and the much smaller related Aristotle's catfish are the only catfish indigenous to Europe: the former ranging throughout Europe, and the latter restricted to Greece. Mythology and literature record wels catfish of astounding proportions, yet to be proven scientifically. The average size of the species is about 1.2–1.6 m (3.9–5.2 ft), and fish more than 2 metres (6.6 ft) are rare. However, they are known to exceed 2.5 metres (8.2 ft) in length and 100 kilograms (220 lb) in weight. In July 2009, a catfish weighing 88 kilograms (194 lb) was caught in the River Ebro, Spain, by an 11-year-old British schoolgirl. [26]

In North America the largest Ictalurus furcatus (Blue catfish) caught in the Missouri River on 20 July 2010, weighed 59 kilograms (130 lb). The largest flathead catfish, Pylodictis olivaris, ever caught was in Independence, Kansas, weighing 56 kilograms (123 lb).

These records pale in comparison to a giant Mekong catfish caught in northern Thailand on 1 May 2005 and reported to the press almost 2 months later that weighed 293 kilograms (646 lb). This is the largest giant Mekong catfish caught since Thai officials started keeping records in 1981. [27] This species is not well studied since it lives in developing countries and it is quite possible it can grow even larger.[ citation needed ] Also in Asia, Jeremy Wade caught a 75.5 kilograms (166.4 lb) Goonch following three fatal attacks on humans in the Kali River on the India-Nepal border. Wade was of the opinion that the offending fish must have been significantly larger than this to have taken an 18-year-old boy as well as a water buffalo.

Piraíba (Brachyplatystoma filamentosum) can grow exceptionally large and are native to the Amazon basin. They can occasionally grow to 400 lbs, as evidenced by numerous catches. There are also reports in the region of deaths from being swallowed by these fish.

Internal anatomy

Kryptopterus vitreolus (glass catfish) have transparent bodies lacking both scales and pigments. Most of the internal organs are located near the head. Kryptopterus 2.jpg
Kryptopterus vitreolus (glass catfish) have transparent bodies lacking both scales and pigments. Most of the internal organs are located near the head.

In many catfish, the humeral process is a bony process extending backward from the pectoral girdle immediately above the base of the pectoral fin. It lies beneath the skin where its outline may be determined by dissecting the skin or probing with a needle. [28]

The retina of catfish are composed of single cones and large rods. Many catfish have a tapetum lucidum which may help enhance photon capture and increase low-light sensitivity. Double cones, though present in most teleosts, are absent from catfish. [29]

The anatomical organization of the testis in catfish is variable among the families of catfish, but the majority of them present fringed testis: Ictaluridae, Claridae, Auchenipteridae, Doradidae, Pimelodidae, and Pseudopimelodidae. [30] In the testes of some species of Siluriformes, organs and structures such as a spermatogenic cranial region and a secretory caudal region are observed, in addition to the presence of seminal vesicles in the caudal region. [31] The total number of fringes and their length are different in the caudal and cranial portions between species. [30] Fringes of the caudal region may present tubules, in which the lumen is filled by secretion and spermatozoa. [30] Spermatocysts are formed from cytoplasmic extensions of Sertoli cells; the release of spermatozoa is allowed by breaking of the cyst walls. [30]

The occurrence of seminal vesicles, in spite of their interspecific variability in size, gross morphology and function, has not been related to the mode of fertilization. They are typically paired, multi-chambered, and connected with the sperm duct, and have been reported to play a glandular and a storage function. Seminal vesicle secretion may include steroids and steroid glucuronides, with hormonal and pheromonal functions, but it appears to be primarily constituted of mucoproteins, acid mucopolysaccharides, and phospholipids. [25]

Fish ovaries may be of two types: gymnovarian or cystovarian. In the first type, the oocytes are released directly into the coelomic cavity and then eliminated. In the second type, the oocytes are conveyed to the exterior through the oviduct. [31] Many catfish are cystovarian in type, including Pseudoplatystoma corruscans , P. fasciatum , Lophiosilurus alexandri , and Loricaria lentiginosa . [30] [31]


Sound production and interpretation

Catfish can produce different types of sounds and also have well-developed auditory reception used to discriminate between sounds with different pitches and velocities. They are also able to determine the distance of the sound's origin and from what direction it originated. [32] This is a very important fish communication mechanism, especially during agonistic and distress behaviors. Catfish are able to produce a variety of sounds for communication that can be classified into two groups: drumming sounds and stridulation sounds. The variability in catfish sound signals differs due to a few factors: the mechanism by which the sound is produced, the function of the resulting sound, and physiological differences such as size, sex, and age. [33] To create a drumming sound, catfish use an indirect vibration mechanism using a swimbladder. In these fishes, sonic muscles insert on the ramus Mulleri, also known as the elastic spring. The sonic muscles pull the elastic spring forward and extend the swimbladder. When the muscles relax, the tension in the spring quickly returns the swimbladder to its original position, which produces the sound. [34]

Catfish also have a sound-generating mechanism in their pectoral fins. Many species in the catfish family possess an enhanced first pectoral fin ray, called the spine, which can be moved by large abductor and adductor muscles. The base of the catfishes' spines has a sequence of ridges, and the spine normally slides within a groove on the fish's pelvic girdle during routine movement; but, pressing the ridges on the spine against the pelvic girdle groove creates a series of short pulses. [32] [34] The movement is analogous to a finger moving down the teeth of a comb, and consequently a series of sharp taps is produced. [33]

Sound-generating mechanisms are often different between genders. In some catfishes, pectoral fins are longer in males than in females of similar length, and differences in the characteristic of the sounds produced were also observed. [34] Comparison between families of the same order of catfish demonstrated family and species-specific patterns of vocalization, according to a study by Maria Clara Amorim. During courtship behavior in three species of Corydoras catfishes, all males actively produced stridulation sounds before egg fertilization, and the species' songs were different in pulse number and sound duration. [35]

Sound production in catfish may also be correlated with fighting and alarm calls. According to a study by Kaatz, sounds for disturbance (e.g. alarm) and agonistic behavior were not significantly different, which suggests distress sounds can be used to sample variation in agonistic sound production. [35] However, in a comparison of a few different species of tropical catfish, some fish put under distress conditions produced a higher intensity of stridulatory sounds than drumming sounds. [36] Differences in the proportion of drumming versus stridulation sounds depend on morphological constraints, such as different sizes of drumming muscles and pectoral spines. Due to these constraints, some fish may not even be able to produce a specific sound. In several different species of catfish, aggressive sound production occurs during cover site defense or during threats from other fish. More specifically, in long-whiskered catfishes, drumming sounds are used as a threatening signal and stridulations are used as a defense signal. Kaatz investigated 83 species from 14 families of catfish, and determined that catfishes produce more stridulatory sounds in disturbance situations and more swimbladder sounds in intraspecific conflicts. [36]

Economic importance


Loading U.S. Farm-Raised Catfish. Loading2.jpg
Loading U.S. Farm-Raised Catfish.

Catfish are easy to farm in warm climates, leading to inexpensive and safe food at local grocers. About 60% of U.S. farm-raised catfish are grown within a 65-mile (100-km) radius of Belzoni, Mississippi. [37] Channel catfish (Ictalurus punctatus) supports a $450 million/yr aquaculture industry. [6] The largest producers are located in the Southern United States, including Mississippi, Alabama, and Arkansas. [38]

Catfish raised in inland tanks or channels are usually considered safe for the environment, since their waste and disease should be contained and not spread to the wild. [39]

In Asia, many catfish species are important as food. Several walking catfish (Clariidae) and shark catfish (Pangasiidae) species are heavily cultured in Africa and Asia. Exports of one particular shark catfish species from Vietnam, Pangasius bocourti , have met with pressures from the U.S. catfish industry. In 2003, The United States Congress passed a law preventing the imported fish from being labeled as catfish. [40] As a result, the Vietnamese exporters of this fish now label their products sold in the U.S. as "basa fish." Trader Joe's has labeled frozen fillets of Vietnamese Pangasius hypophthalmus as "striper." [41]

There is a large and growing ornamental fish trade, with hundreds of species of catfish, such as Corydoras and armored suckermouth catfish (often called plecos), being a popular component of many aquaria. Other catfish commonly found in the aquarium trade are banjo catfish, talking catfish, and long-whiskered catfish.

Catfish as food

Catfish in a restaurant in Wuhan (China) Fisch im Restaurant.jpg
Catfish in a restaurant in Wuhan (China)

Catfish have widely been caught and farmed for food for hundreds of years in Africa, Asia, Europe, and North America. Judgments as to the quality and flavor vary, with some food critics considering catfish excellent to eat, while others dismiss them as watery and lacking in flavor. [42] Catfish is high in vitamin D. [43] Farm-raised catfish contains low levels of omega-3 fatty acids and a much higher proportion of omega-6 fatty acids. [44]

In Central Europe, catfish were often viewed as a delicacy to be enjoyed on feast days and holidays. Migrants from Europe and Africa to the United States brought along this tradition, and in the Southern United States, catfish is an extremely popular food.

The most commonly eaten species in the United States are the channel catfish and the blue catfish, both of which are common in the wild and increasingly widely farmed. Farm-raised catfish became such a staple of the U.S. diet that President Ronald Reagan established National Catfish Day on June 25, 1987 to recognize "the value of farm-raised catfish."

Catfish is eaten in a variety of ways. In Europe it is often cooked in similar ways to carp, but in the United States it is popularly crumbed with cornmeal and fried. [42]

Pecel lele served with sambal, tempeh and lalab vegetables in a humble tent warung in Jakarta, Indonesia Pecel Lele 1.JPG
Pecel lele served with sambal , tempeh and lalab vegetables in a humble tent warung in Jakarta, Indonesia

In Indonesia, catfish is usually served fried or grilled in street stalls called warung and eaten with vegetables and sambal; the dish is called pecel lele or pecak lele. The same dish can also be called as lele penyet (squashed catfish) if the fish is lightly squashed along with sambal in the stone mortar. The pecel/pecak version present the fish in separate plate while the stone mortar is solely for sambal (Lele is the Indonesian word for catfish.)

In Malaysia catfish, called ikan keli, is fried with spices or grilled and eaten with tamarind and Thai chillies gravy and also is often eaten with steamed rice.

In Bangladesh and the Indian states of Odisha, West Bengal and Assam, catfish (locally known as magur) is eaten as a favored delicacy during the monsoons. In the Indian state of Kerala, the local catfish, known as thedu' or etta in Malayalam, is also popular.

In Hungary catfish is often cooked in paprika sauce (Harcsapaprikás) typical of Hungarian cuisine. It is traditionally served with pasta smothered with curd cheese (túrós csusza).

In Myanmar (formally Burma), catfish is usually used in mohinga , a traditional noodle fish soup cooked with lemon grass, ginger, garlic, pepper, banana stem, onions, and other local ingredients.

Filipino fried hito (catfish) with vinegar and kalamansi dip sauce Catfishjf.JPG
Filipino fried hito (catfish) with vinegar and kalamansi dip sauce

Vietnamese catfish (Pangasius) cannot be legally marketed as catfish in the United States, and so is referred to as swai or basa [45] Only fish of the family Ictaluridae may be marketed as catfish in the United States. [46] In the UK, Vietnamese catfish is sold as "Vietnamese river cobbler". [47]

In Nigeria, catfish is often cooked in a variety of stews. It is particularly cooked in a delicacy popularly known as "catfish pepper soup" which is enjoyed throughout the nation. [48]

Fish must have fins and scales to be kosher. [49] Since catfish lacks scales, they are not kosher. [50]

Dangers to humans

A sting from the striped eel catfish, Plotosus lineatus, may be fatal. Image-Striped eel catfish2.jpg
A sting from the striped eel catfish, Plotosus lineatus , may be fatal.

While the vast majority of catfish are harmless to humans, a few species are known to present some risk. Many catfish species have “stings” (actually non-venomous in most cases) embedded behind their fins; thus precautions must be taken when handling them. Stings by striped eel catfish have killed people in rare cases. [51]


The catfish are a monophyletic group. This is supported by molecular evidence. [52]

Catfish belong to a superorder called the Ostariophysi, which also includes the Cypriniformes, Characiformes, Gonorynchiformes and Gymnotiformes, a superorder characterized by the Weberian apparatus. Some place Gymnotiformes as a sub-order of Siluriformes, however this is not as widely accepted. Currently, the Siluriformes are said to be the sister group to the Gymnotiformes, though this has been debated due to more recent molecular evidence. [5] As of 2007 there are about 36 extant catfish families, and about 3,093 extant species have been described. [53] This makes the catfish order the second or third most diverse vertebrate order; in fact, 1 out of every 20 vertebrate species is a catfish. [6]

Blue catfish (Ictalurus furcatus) skeleton on display at the Museum of Osteology. Blue catfish skeleton.jpg
Blue catfish ( Ictalurus furcatus) skeleton on display at the Museum of Osteology.

The taxonomy of catfish is quickly changing. In a 2007 and 2008 paper, Horabagrus , Phreatobius , and Conorhynchos were not classified under any current catfish families. [53] There is disagreement on the family status of certain groups; for example, Nelson (2006) lists Auchenoglanididae and Heteropneustidae as separate families, while the All Catfish Species Inventory (ACSI) includes them under other families. Also, FishBase and the Integrated Taxonomic Information System lists Parakysidae as a separate family, while this group is included under Akysidae by both Nelson (2006) and ACSI. [5] [54] [55] [56] Many sources do not list the recently revised family Anchariidae. [57] The family Horabagridae, including Horabagrus, Pseudeutropius , and Platytropius , is also not shown by some authors but presented by others as a true group. [52] Thus, the actual number of families differs between authors. The species count is in constant flux due to taxonomic work as well as description of new species. On the other hand, our understanding of catfish should increase in the next few years due to work by the ACSI. [5]

The rate of description of new catfish is at an all-time high. Between 2003 and 2005, over 100 species have been named, a rate three times faster than that of the past century. [58] In June 2005, researchers named the newest family of catfish, Lacantuniidae, only the third new family of fish distinguished in the last 70 years (others being the coelacanth in 1938 and the megamouth shark in 1983). The new species in Lacantuniidae, Lacantunia enigmatica , was found in the Lacantun river in the Mexican state of Chiapas. [59]

The higher-level phylogeny of Siluriformes has gone through several recent changes, mainly due to molecular phylogenetic studies. While most studies, both morphological and molecular, agree that catfishes are arranged into three main lineages, the relationship among these lineages has been a contentious point in which morphological and molecular phylogenetic studies differ. [60] [61] [62] [63] [64] The three main lineages in Siluriformes are the family Diplomystidae, the denticulate catfish suborder Loricarioidei (which includes the families Nematogenyidae, Trichomycteridae, Callichthyidae, Scoloplacidae, Astroblepidae, and Loricariidae, which is sometimes referred to as the superfamily Loricarioidea), and the suborder Siluroidei, which contains the remaining families of the order. According to morphological data, Diplomystidae is usually considered to be the earliest branching catfish lineage and the sister group to the other two lineages, Loricarioidei and Siluroidei. [63] [64] [65] Molecular evidence usually contrasts with this hypothesis, and shows the suborder Loricarioidei as the earliest branching catfish lineage, and sister to a clade that includes the Diplomystidae and Siluroidei. While in the first study this relationship was proposed [52] the "morphological" hypothesis could not be rejected, the new, "molecular" phylogenetic hypothesis was later obtained in numerous other phylogenetic studies based on genetic data. [60] [61] [66] However, a recent study based on molecular data argued that the previous "molecular" hypothesis is the result of phylogenetic artifacts due to a strong heterogeneity in evolutionary rates among siluriform lineages. [62] In that study it was suggested that the fast evolution of the Loricarioidei suborder was attracting this clade to the outgroups through long branch attraction, incorrectly placing it as the earliest-branching catfish lineage. When a data filtering method [67] was used to reduce lineage rate heterogeneity (the potential source of bias) on their dataset, a final phylogeny was recovered which showed the Diplomystidae are the earliest-branching catfish, followed by Loricarioidei and Siluroidei as sister lineages. Thus, there is currently both morphological and molecular evidence for a higher-level phylogenetic arrangement of Siluriformes in which Diplomystidae is the earliest branching catfish, sister to a clade including the Loricarioidei and Siluroidei suborders.

Below is a list of family relationships by different authors. Lacantuniidae is included in the Sullivan scheme based on recent evidence that places it sister to Claroteidae. [68]

Nelson, 2006 [5] Sullivan et al., 2006 [52]
  • Unresolved families
    • Cetopsidae
    • Pseudopimelodidae
    • Heptapteridae
    • Cranoglanididae
    • Ictaluridae
  • Loricarioidea
    • Amphiliidae
    • Trichomycteridae
    • Nematogenyiidae
    • Callichthyidae
    • Scoloplacidae
    • Astroblepidae
    • Loricariidae
  • Sisoroidea
    • Amblycipitidae
    • Akysidae
    • Sisoridae
    • Erethistidae
    • Aspredinidae
  • Doradoidea
    • Mochokidae
    • Doradidae
    • Auchenipteridae
  • Siluroidea
    • Siluridae
    • Malapteruridae
    • Auchenoglanididae
    • Chacidae
    • Plotosidae
    • Clariidae
    • Heteropneustidae
  • Bagroidea
    • Austroglanididae
    • Claroteidae
    • Ariidae
    • Schilbeidae
    • Pangasiidae
    • Bagridae
    • Pimelodidae
  • Unresolved families
    • Cetopsidae
    • Plotosidae
    • Chacidae
    • Siluridae
    • Pangasiidae
  • Suborder Loricarioidei
    • Trichomycteridae
    • Nematogenyiidae
    • Callichthyidae
    • Scoloplacidae
    • Astroblepidae
    • Loricariidae
  • Clarioidea
    • Clariidae
    • Heteropneustidae
  • Arioidea
    • Ariidae
    • Anchariidae
  • Pimelodoidea
    • Pimelodidae
    • Pseudopimelodidae
    • Heptapteridae
    • Conorhynchos
  • Ictaluroidea
    • Ictaluridae
    • Cranoglanididae
  • Doradoidea (sister to Aspredinidae)
    • Doradidae
    • Auchenipteridae
  • "Big Asia"
  • "Big Africa"
    • Mochokidae
    • Malapteruridae
    • Amphiliidae
    • Claroteidae
    • Lacantuniidae
    • Schilbeidae


Phylogeny of living Siluriformes based on 2017 [69] and extinct families based on Nelson, Grande & Wilson 2016. [70]




















Big African




















Unassigned families:


QuaternaryNeogenePaleogeneCretaceousHolocenePleistocenePlioceneMioceneOligoceneEocenePaleoceneLate CretaceousEarly CretaceousSelenaspisEopeyeriaArius (genus)QuaternaryNeogenePaleogeneCretaceousHolocenePleistocenePlioceneMioceneOligoceneEocenePaleoceneLate CretaceousEarly CretaceousCatfish

Catfish fishing records

By information from International Game Fish Association IGFA the most outstanding record: [71]

Related Research Articles

Airbreathing catfish family of fish

Airbreathing catfish are fish comprising the family Clariidae of order Siluriformes. About 14 genera and about 116 species of clariids are described. All the clariids are freshwater species. Note that other groups of catfish also breathe air, such as the Callichthyidae and Loricariidae.

Ictaluridae family of fishes

The Ictaluridae, sometimes called ictalurids or common catfishes, are a family of catfish native to North America, where they are important food fish and sometimes as a sport fish. The family includes about 51 species, some commonly known as bullheads, madtoms, channel catfish, and blue catfish.

Loricariidae family of fishes

Loricariidae is the largest family of catfish, with 92 genera and just over 680 species to date, with new species being described each year. Loricariids originate from freshwater habitats of Costa Rica, Panama, and tropical and subtropical South America. These fish are noted for the bony plates covering their bodies and their suckermouths. Several genera are sold as "plecos", notably the suckermouth catfish, Hypostomus plecostomus, and are popular as aquarium fish.

Amblycipitidae family of fishes

The Amblycipitidae are a family of catfishes, commonly known as torrent catfishes. It includes three genera, Amblyceps, Liobagrus, and Xiurenbagrus, and about 36 species.

<i>Clarias</i> genus of fishes

Clarias is a genus of catfishes of the family Clariidae, the airbreathing catfishes. The name is derived from the Greek chlaros, which means lively, in reference to the ability of the fish to live for a long time out of water.

Pimelodidae family of fishes

The Pimelodidae, commonly known as the long-whiskered catfishes, are a family of catfishes.

Doradidae family of fishes

The Doradidae are a family of catfishes also known as thorny catfishes, raphael catfishes or talking catfishes. These fish are native to South America, primarily the Amazon basin and the Guianas.

Bagridae family of fishes

The Bagridae are a family of catfish that are native to Africa (Bagrus) and Asia from Japan to Borneo. It includes about 245 species. These fish are commonly known as naked catfishes or bagrid catfishes.

Loach catfish family of fishes

The loach catfishes are a family, Amphiliidae, of catfishes. They are widespread in tropical Africa, but are most common in streams at high elevations; most species are able to cling to rocks in fast-flowing streams. The 13 genera contain 68 species.

Sisoridae family of fishes

Sisoridae is a family of catfishes. These Asian catfishes live in fast-moving waters and often have adaptations that allow them to adhere to objects in their habitats. The family includes about 235 species.

Erethistidae family of fishes

Erethistidae are a family of catfishes that originate from southern Asia. It includes about 26 species.

The Chiapas catfish, Lacantunia enigmatica, is an unusual species of catfish newly described in 2005 from the Lacantún River in the Mexican state of Chiapas. While discovery of an undescribed species of catfish is not uncommon, discovery of a new family-level taxon of any vertebrate group is a rare event. The Chiapas catfish mainly feeds on crabs, prawns, small fish, and large, tough plant seeds. This catfish is commonly fished in its natural habitat, where it is known as madre de juil, which means "mother of Rhamdia".

Heptapteridae family of fishes

The Heptapteridae, or three-barbeled catfishes, are a family of catfish that originate from the Americas. Most species are restricted to South America, but Imparfinis lineatus, Nemuroglanis panamensis and Pimelodella chagresi are native to Panama, and Rhamdia species occur as far north as Mexico. The name Heptapteridae is derived from Greek, hepta meaning seven and pteron meaning fin.

<i>Nematogenys inermis</i> species of fish

Nematogenys inermis is a species of mountain catfish, the only extant species in the family Nematogenyiidae. This species is endemic to Chile where it is found in fresh waters in central Chile. This species grows to a length of 40.7 cm (16.0 in) NG.

Loricarioidea superfamily of fishes

Loricarioidea is a superfamily of catfishes. It contains the six families Trichomycteridae, Nematogenyiidae, Callichthyidae, Scoloplacidae, Astroblepidae, and Loricariidae. Some schemes also include Amphiliidae. This superfamily, including Amphiliidae, includes about 156 genera and 1,187 species.

Loricariinae subfamily of fishes

Loricariinae is a subfamily of the family Loricariidae of catfish. This subfamily is divided into two tribes and about 30 genera. They are mainly native to freshwater habitats in South America, but there are also several species in Panama and a single (Fonchiiichthys) in Costa Rica.

Ixinandria steinbachi is the only species in the genus Ixinandria of catfish of the family Loricariidae.

Sisoroidea superfamily of fishes

Sisoroidea is a superfamily of catfishes. It contains the four families Amblycipitidae, Akysidae, Sisoridae, and Erethistidae; many sources also include Aspredinidae. With Aspredinidae, this superfamily includes about 42 genera and 230 species.

Diplomystidae family of fishes

Diplomystidae, the velvet catfishes, are a family of primitive catfishes endemic to freshwater habitats in Argentina and Chile in southern South America. It currently contains six species in two genera.

Olivaichthys is a genus of velvet catfishes endemic to Argentina.


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