Catfish Siluriformes

‘For a man to truly understand rejection, he must first be ignored by a cat.’ Anon

Catfish are a group of ray-finned fish, named after their barbels or ‘whiskers’ which resemble a cat’s.

Catfish can and do range in size and behaviour from the longest and heaviest Mekong Giant Catfish originating from South East Asia to the tiny parasite species called the Candiru. There are armour plated types and also naked types, neither have scales.

Despite their name not all types of catfish have barbels, all members of the Siluriformes are defined by the features of the skull.

Catfish are nocturnal animals and are very important to the commercial industry. The larger species are farmed or fished to eat and many of the smaller species are important to aquarium hobbyists.

Many catfish are bottom dwellers. In general they are negatively buoyant due to their heavy, bony head. Catfish have no scales, in some species the skin is covered with mucus which allows for cutaneous respiration (breathing through the skin) some catfish the skin is covered in bony plates called calledscutes, which appears to look like some form of body armour on the fish.

I have never seen a catfish before, perhaps this is due to their nocturnal behaviour and my lack of any activity once the sun has set, however I hope I can see one in the near future, simply for their beauty and their odd whiskers 🙂


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