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a family of fishes of the order Cypriniformes. The scaleless body reaches a length of 5 m and a weight of 300 kg. (The largest species is the sheatfish—Silurus glanis.) There is a long anal fin, but an adipose fin is lacking. The unpaired fins do not have spines.
There are eight genera, embracing many species. The fishes are distributed in freshwaters of Europe and Asia. The USSR has three species, belonging to the two genera Silurus and Parasilurus.
The sheatfish occurs in rivers and lakes of the European USSR (except the basin of the Arctic Ocean) and in the basin of the Aral Sea; it has been released in the Murgab River. In the south it enters brackish waters. Spawning occurs in spring or early summer, amid vegetation in the littoral zone. The female deposits the roe in a primitive nest, which the male guards. Sexual maturity is attained in the fourth or fifth year of life.
The sheatfish is a predator, feeding on large fishes, including commercial species. It itself is a commercially valuable fish. Soldatov’s catfish (S. soldatova), which inhabits the middle course of the Amur River, is also of commercial significance. The Amur catfish (Parasilurus asotus), which is distributed in the Amur basin, is fished locally.
REFERENCENikol’skii, G. V. Chastnaia ikhtiologiia, 3rd ed. Moscow, 1971.
N. N. SAFONOV