Catfish fish

The catfish (Anarhichas lupus), which lives mainly in cold waters, does not have the most attractive appearance. It is rather difficult to meet her (even in the warm season above 100-150 meters she does not emerge). But a meeting with such a species can be remembered for a long time (mainly due to the external features of the fish).

Origin of the species and description

Photo: Fish catfish

Photo: Catfish

Catfish (translated into Latin – Anarhichadidae) belong to the ray-finned family. The first representatives of this category belong to the Silurian period. The oldest find of fish of this class is about 420 million years old. At the same time, ray-finned fish with ganoid scales were very common. About 200 million years ago, they were replaced by bony individuals (which include most of the modern fish – about 95%).

Video: Catfish

A distinctive feature of ray-finned individuals is the presence of a spine. The skin can be both naked and covered (with scales or bone plates). The body structure is pretty standard. In the course of the evolutions that took place, the ray-finned representatives were divided into a huge number of classes. Now they live in all waters of the planet (both fresh and marine). Catfish are included in the class of scorpionfish (the detachment has only about 2 thousand species).

The key characteristics of this group are:

  • habitat – shallow water/seabed (freshwater representatives total 60);
  • food – mainly the absorption of crustaceans (feeding on small fish is not so common);
  • distinctive external characteristics – rounded fins (caudal and pectoral), prickly heads;
  • size range – from 2 up to 150 cm

The suborder of scorpionfish, to which catfish belong, is called eelpouts (international name – Zoarcoidei). All its representatives are distinguished by an elongated ribbon-like body, long fins and the presence of an anal fin. Catfish are often referred to as “Sea Wolf” or “Sea Dog”. This is due to the characteristic color and jaw, which will be discussed below.

They are divided into the following groups:

  • ordinary (striped). Distinguishing feature — the presence of tubercular fangs and slightly smaller sizes;
  • spotted. Representatives of this group in size are between blue and striped catfish. Their feature lies in less developed teeth;
  • blue. The color of such fish is almost monophonic, dark. They have tubercular teeth worse than others;
  • Far Eastern. A distinctive characteristic is an increased number of vertebrae and the strongest teeth;
  • carbonaceous. They differ from other representatives in their elongated body and a large number of rays in the fins.

Interesting fact: Carboniferous catfish often belong to a separate group of marine life. This is due to their uncharacteristic appearance for other catfish.

Appearance and Features

Photo: Catfish in water

Photo: Catfish in water

It is impossible to say that catfish behave in a special way or are the most terrible predators. Their main feature, which is both shocking and surprising, — this is the look. Nature endowed these fish with an unusual color and a non-standard jaw.

The main characteristics of the body of catfish include:

  • body: The body of catfish is elongated and compressed on the sides. At the head it is expanded. The body tapers towards the tail. Belly sags. The fin starts almost immediately from the head. It is quite high and reaches almost to the caudal fin. All fins are rounded;
  • color: The standard color of the fish is yellow and bluish-gray. It is supplemented with transverse stripes (up to 15 pieces), smoothly passing to the fin. Such stripes are formed from the smallest dark dots;
  • Jaw: It is the teeth that distinguish these fish. The mouth of these individuals is armed with strong and strong teeth. In front of the jaw are sharp fangs of impressive size – the most frightening parts of the jaw. They are somewhat reminiscent of dog fangs. Behind them are rounded crushing teeth, less scary. It is these elements of the jaw that gave rise to such a name.

Interesting fact: Catfish's large fangs are not designed for hunting fish. Their main purpose is to simplify the plucking of clams from stones. The teeth are replaced every season. During their shift, catfish either starve or feed on small food items (without shells) that can be swallowed whole.

The size of the catfish depends on its age and habitat. The standard length of fish ranges from 30 to 70 cm. At the same time, their weight rarely exceeds 4-8 kg. However, on the shores of Canada there were also representatives of the catfish class 1.5 meters long. Such marine inhabitants weighed about 14 kg. The mass of old fish can reach large values ​​(up to 30 kg). But with such dimensions, catfish rarely swim close to the shore. The life expectancy of catfish is about 20 years.

Where does catfish live?

Photo: Catfish in Russia

Photo: Catfish in Russia

Catfish prefer to live in the waters of temperate and low water areas. They are predominantly found in marine waters. They are found all over the world. As a rule, catfish prefer to “sit out” at the bottom of the seas/oceans.

The maximum number of representatives of this class was found in the following places:

  • Northern Ocean;
  • Kola Peninsula (northern part of its waters);

  • Kola and Motovskaya bays;
  • Svalbard (western side of its coast);
  • North America (mainly Atlantic part of the waters);
  • Faroe Islands;
  • Bear Island;
  • White and Barents Seas (their deepest zones).

Catfish prefer the continental shelf. They hide in algae, where they can simply disguise themselves (due to their color). At the same time, it is extremely difficult to find fish on the sea coast. The minimum depth of their habitat is about 150-200 m. In winter, catfish representatives prefer to rest at a depth of up to 1 km. In the same period, the color of the individual also changes – it brightens.

The habitat also depends on the specific type of fish. So, eel catfish can be found on the coast of North America (within the Pacific coast). And the Far East – in Norton Bay or on Pribylov Island.

Now you know where the catfish lives. Let's see what it eats.

What does catfish eat?

Photo: Sea catfish

Photo: Sea catfish

The diet of catfish is quite diverse (which is possible due to the abundance of marine life).


The following representatives of the aquatic fauna are eaten:

  • snails (molluscs, belonging to the order of gastropods, live mainly in desalinated areas);
  • lobsters and smaller crustaceans (crayfish, crabs, shrimps and other representatives of arthropod inhabitants of the sea day);
  • mollusks (primarily cavitary animals with spiral fragmentation, which lack a vertebral section);
  • urchins (marine inhabitants of a spherical shape belonging to the class of echinoderms);
  • stars (representatives of marine fauna , belonging to the class of invertebrate echinoderms);
  • jellyfish (intestinal marine animals that live exclusively in salt water);
  • fish (mainly fry of various types of marine fish).

After the “lunch” of the catfish, the stones are left with whole mountains of devastated shells and shells. Most often, it is precisely by them that the habitat of catfish representatives is determined specifically in this area.

Interesting fact: No matter how strong the adhesion of shells/shells to any surface is, it is not in front of catfish stand. Thanks to the most powerful fangs, fish open up potential food in a matter of moments and crush it into dust.

The species characteristics of fish seriously affect taste preferences. So, striped catfish feed mainly on fish. They rarely resort to grinding mollusks and crustaceans. Spotted fish prefer echinoderms for “lunch”. Such a “dish” is also chosen by representatives of the Far East. They also feed on crustaceans and molluscs. And blue catfish “taste” jellyfish and fish (which is why their teeth last much longer than other species).

Interesting fact: If you decide to catch a catfish with a bait, use clams as bait. With its help, it is possible to catch a striped inhabitant of the seas. To increase the likelihood of successful fishing, you will have to bring the fish out of its usual state. Most often, tapping on coastal stones is used to complete this task. Sound waves make catfish wake up. Catching other types of fish is much more difficult (due to their taste preferences).

Character and lifestyle features

Photo: Catfish

Photo: Catfish

Catfish lead a predominantly sedentary lifestyle. Living at great depths, they rarely rise to the surface of the water. They have absolutely no need for this: at the bottom there is a huge number of inhabitants necessary for the normal diet of catfish. In the daytime, catfish, as a rule, “sit out” in shelters. Caves act as houses, where fish can easily hide and algae thickets.

The active life of catfish begins with the onset of night. After sunset, starving fish go hunting. During the night, they completely replenish their supplies and, already full, again go to the shelter. The depth of habitat depends on the type of fish. So, spotted catfish hunt in the upper layers of the reservoir in summer. And ordinary catfish representatives are almost always found in gorges or large accumulations of algae. Regardless of the species, all catfish go to great depths in winter. This happens because the temperature at the bottom is much more stable and comfortable for marine life.

An interesting fact: The rate of increase in the body of catfish directly depends on the depth of its habitat. The higher the fish is, the faster it grows.

For humans, catfish inhabitants of the seas do not pose a particular threat. The main thing is not to touch them … Catfish are not among the active predators. It would never occur to them to attack a person passing by. In addition, during daylight hours, they most often hide in secluded places. However, fish can still bite a person who has disturbed their peace. Anglers who have managed to pull out a catfish warn of a potential threat from their jaw.

In addition, those who unexpectedly meet this fish live may experience serious disgust. It is definitely impossible to attribute catfish to cute marine representatives. Their head is wrinkled, resembling an old unhealed ulcer. The large size and dark color inspire fear and make you instantly remember all the horror films you have ever watched. Separate sensations are caused by teeth that can grind mollusk shells in seconds …

The life expectancy of such fish is quite long. If the catfish does not get caught in the net, it will be able to live freely up to 20-25 years. They don't join flocks. Under natural conditions, catfish live alone. This allows them to freely move around the sea without thinking about other members of the group.

Social Structure and Reproduction

Photo: Northern catfish

Photo: Northern catfish

By gender catfish are divided into male and female individuals. The first are characterized by increased dimensions. The male color is much darker. Female catfish are more attractive. They have no swelling around the eyes, and the lips are less massive. The chin of females is less pronounced. Their color is lighter.

Interesting fact: Male catfish are monogamous. The fight for the female is carried out only once. At the same time, the word “fight” is used in the literal sense: the fish conduct full-fledged duels, fighting with each other with their heads and teeth (the scars from such battles remain forever on the body of marine life). After mastering the catfish, the male remains faithful to her for the rest of his life.

In the northern regions, catfish spawning occurs mainly in the summer months. And in warmer latitudes, reproduction is possible in winter. One female can produce up to 40 thousand eggs with a diameter of about 5 mm. Glued into a ball, the embryos stick to the surface (most often stones). Development takes a significant period of time. In cold waters, fry can be born only after a few months. Hatched fish at the beginning of their life journey live in high layers. They go to one only when they reach a length of 5-8 cm. With such dimensions, they can hide and start hunting. The fry feed on zooplankton.

An interesting fact: Catfish males are not only monogamous, but also exemplary fathers. It is they who remain with their offspring after the ball attaches to the surface. Pisces protect their children for some time, after which they go on a further voyage. Females, on the other hand, immediately swim away from the eggs after they are born.

Natural enemies of catfish

Photo: Catfish fish

Photo: Catfish fish

At a young age, catfish are a favorite “delicacy” of many large fish (including predatory ones). Adults, on the other hand, are less susceptible to attacks from other marine life. This happens because of their large size and their preference to hide in gorges.

The main enemies of catfish are:

  • sharks. Not all sharks hunt catfish representatives. It is caused by the habitat of fish. They feed only on those predators that are found close to the bottom. These include: goblin shark, frilled shark, etmopterus and other species. Despite the wide variety of carnivorous benthic individuals, the threat to catfish is low. Fish have adapted to harsh underwater conditions and hide from sharks in secluded places.
  • seals. Such enemies are dangerous only for those catfish that live in cold waters (Arctic Ocean, White and Barents Seas, etc.). Seals with great speed are able to dive to a depth of 500 meters. At the same time, without air, they can do about 15 minutes. This is quite enough to keep up with catfish prey and hit it.

But the main enemy of catfish is still considered to be a person who catches fish and mercilessly sells them for processing. If it weren't for humans, catfish living in cold waters would quietly live to old age and die due to natural age.

Population and species status

Photo: Catfish in the sea

Photo: Catfish in the sea

Every year the population of all fish species decreases. Catfish are no exception. Their numbers in marine waters are dropping significantly.

This is caused by:

  • fishing. Catfish meat is quite tasty and is considered a delicacy in many countries. And the caviar of these representatives in terms of taste resembles salmon caviar. Therefore, fishermen actively catch large fish and sell them at a high cost. Catching is done both with a fishing rod and with the help of nets. The largest catch of individuals of this class is made by Iceland and Russia;
  • pollution of the world's oceans. Despite countless attempts by states to normalize the ecological situation, the quality of water is declining every year. This is caused by huge waste dumped into the world's oceans. At the same time, bottles, bags, garbage not only spoil the appearance of the coasts, but also eradicate many marine life. Fish absorb such elements, poison or suffocate due to their incorrect passage and die.

Interesting fact: Caught fish is not only a delicious lunch. Catfish leather is used to make bags and accessories for them, light shoes and more. Such non-waste animals are in high demand.

Despite the fact that the number of catfish is gradually decreasing, it will not soon reach the mark indicating the need to enter the species in the Red Book. It is almost impossible to calculate the exact number of these creatures due to their habitat. For the same reason, the influence of humans on their population is reduced. At the same time, the government of some countries has already established a ban on the industrial catch of these fish. This indicates a possible bright future for the catfish representatives of the marine fauna.

The catfish is a truly unique inhabitant of the seas (and at the same time very unattractive). She is not like her brothers not in appearance, not in way of life, not in numbers. Despite its terrible external characteristics, the fish does not pose a threat to people.

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