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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 bladderswim bladder,
large, thin-walled sac in some fishes that may function in several ways, e.g., as a buoyant float, a sound producer and receptor, and a respiratory organ. The swim bladder, or air bladder, is located in the dorsal portion of the body cavity and is filled with gases.
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 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 fishelectric fish,
name for various fish that produce electricity by means of organs usually developed from modified muscle tissue. The electric eels of South America are freshwater knifefish unrelated to the eel.
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 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.


Catfishes are classified in the phylum ChordataChordata
, phylum of animals having a notochord, or dorsal stiffening rod, as the chief internal skeletal support at some stage of their development. Most chordates are vertebrates (animals with backbones), but the phylum also includes some small marine invertebrate animals.
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, subphylum Vertebrata, class Actinopterygii, order Siluriformes.

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(vertebrate zoology)
The common name for a number of fishes which constitute the suborder Siluroidei in the order Cypriniformes, all of which have barbels around the mouth.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


1. any of numerous mainly freshwater teleost fishes having whisker-like barbels around the mouth, esp the silurids of Europe and Asia and the horned pouts of North America
2. another name for wolffish
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
"Our hope is that people target channel catfish and we have the state record broken multiple times in the next few weeks," Adams said, in the May 2019 release.
As mentioned, June is a good month for channel catfish in this area.
He said ' We got feedback after 2018 training and we realised that farmers needed marketing channels for proper distribution of catfish that are locally produced.
Ms Mugambi adds that rearing catfish has many advantages.
Sail cats are an interesting species, and undeniably quite handsome with their long, graceful fins that set them apart from that other saltwater catfish, the hardhead.
BFAR is currently training the catfish farmers to create a net barricade enough to prevent the bullfrogs from jumping into the fish farms.
Oliech lost a substantial amount of cash to the con artist after the catfish introduced him to the guy who was to help him secure the deal So once Oliech was given the fake number of the connect, the catfish went for the kill, asking Oliech to send the facilitation fee via Mpesa The moment the cash was sent, the catfish account blocked the former skipper, plus the phone number went mteja!
The success in African catfish farming can be linked to the successful development of artificial propagation protocols in the 1980's and its substantial contribution to aquaculture development can be traced to mid-1990's as it is reflected on the FAO FishStat, (Figure 3) [6].
The fish, known as the Mekong giant catfish, is a large freshwater fish native to the Mekong river basin and its tributaries in Southeast Asia and China.
Catfish may be the main attraction here, but there are other selections like fried shrimp, oysters, scallops, and a combination platter.
Both fresh fillets and frozen fillets containing a commercial phosphate blend were purchased from a commercial Mississippi catfish processor and stored in a frozen state.
Research at the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Warmwater Aquaculture Research Unit (WARU) in Stoneville, Mississippi, helps catfish producers improve the quality and quantity of their products.