I’m sure that this Thanksgiving many of us are gorged on turkey. As a respite, I give you the above … a European record wels catfish, Silurus glanis, all 8 foot and 226lbs of it.
While I’m at it, here’s another new species. In this case, it is a catfish from Mexico, Lacantunia enigmatica, which has a number of distinguishing characteristics. As the abstract to the description [pdf] states:
A new family (Lacantuniidae), genus and species of catfish, Lacantunia enigmatica, is described from the Río Usumacinta basin of Chiapas, México. This odd siluriform is diagnosed by five distinctively autapomorphic and anatomically complex structures. … Lacantunia enigmatica cannot be placed within or as a basal sister lineage to any known catfish family or multifamily clade except Siluroidei. This species may represent an ancient group, perhaps of early Tertiary age or older, and it adds another biogeographic puzzle to the historically complex Mesoamerican biota.
Full source: RODILES-HERNÁNDEZ et al. (2005) “Lacantunia enigmatica (Teleostei: Siluriformes) a new and phylogenetically puzzling freshwater fish from Mesoamerica” Zootaxa 1000: 1-24 (27 May 2005) [pdf]
An Atlantic tripletail caught in the Bristol Channel this week may be the first recorded occurrence of the species in Britain.
The Atlantic tripletail, Lobotes surinamensis, is found in tropical and subtropical waters around the world, but is exceptionally rare north of the Mediterranean Sea. Experts believe that the catch is another indication that subtropical fishes are migrating into the temperate waters of the UK as temperatures rise due to global warming.
Hemiscyillum sp., recently discovered off the coast of Indonesia. This little puppy walks on its pectoral fins as do other epaulette sharks of the genus. For more on the find, see here. Apparently, epaulette sharks make good aquarium denizens.
A fisherman who speared a protected species of grouper while diving off Florida has been killed after the fish swam into a hole and entangled him in the line attached to the speargun. <
A 42-year-old Florida man, who has not been named, was free-diving in 7.6m/25′ of water off the lower Florida Keys this weekend when he speared a Goliath grouper, Epinephalus itajara.
According to a report from Reuters, Detective Mark Coleman said that police divers had found the speared fish tightly wedged in a hole with the man’s body entangled in the spear line: “It looks like the fish wrapped the line attached to the spear around the victim’s wrist. The fish then went into a hole in a coral rock, effectively pinning the man to the bottom of the ocean.” (source)
Bought some more catfish today. I’ve now got two tanks going, so I decided to go with a few more South American species - three Emerald cats (Brochis splendens Castelnau, 1855) and a single pictus cat (Pimelodus pictus Steindachner, 1876). The former are in my main tank with the peppered corys (Corydoras paleatus), lace catfish (Syonodontis nigrita), the plec (Hypostomus plecostomus), and some smaller fish, while the pictus is in another tank with the eclipse cat (Horabagrus brachysoma). If I had my way, I’d have big tanks full of catfish.
I haven’t catfish blogged in a while, so this is worthwhile. Another article in today’s Nature is of interest. In this one, the authors describe the ability of the eel catfish, Channallabes apus to forage onland. Importantly, they note that the species’ “capacity to bend its head down towards the ground while feeding seems to be an essential feature that may have enabled fish to make the transition from an aquatic to a terrestrial mode” and go on to point out that the species and others such as Ichthyostega, the recently described Tiktaalik, and terrestrially feeding Periophthalminae (terrestrially feeding mudskippers) all show “dorso-ventral flexion of the presacral vertebral column, and this may have allowed these animals to capture prey on land more effectively.” Isn’t in nice when all the evidence comes together?
The paper is Van Wassenbergh et al. (2006) “Evolution: A catfish that can strike its prey on land” Nature 440, 881 (13 April 2006) | doi:10.1038/440881a
Catfish are a fairly diverse group of fish, familar to aquarium keepers and fans of fried food. They vary in size from the over two meter long Giant Mekong Catfish (Pangasius gigas; a record 646 pound specimen is above) to a finger-length parasitic species, the candiru (Vandellia cirrhosa, see below). Thanks to a reminder by Tara (and ultimately, PZ), it’s the candiru that I want to write about today.
A few weeks ago, I noted that I had bought a lace catfish Syonodontis nigrita for my aquarium. The little guy doesn’t come out often, preferring the evenings, but he sure is a nice looking fish. Somewhat strangely, he likes to spend time inverted among the plants, wedging himself down near the roots. It took me a while to realize that he wasn’t dead! Below is a picture of a lace catfish [click for larger version].
So, my interest was peeked when I noticed that two researchers at Cornell recently described a new species of Syonodontid, Synodontis acanthoperca from Gabon. What’s interesting about this species is that it shows distinct sexual dimorphism; older males have a well-developed spine from the operculum (the bone that covers the gills) that is twice the size of the spine in females. Indeed, the presence of an opercular spine is unique to this species and unknown in other catfish. The species is also a relative small Syonodontid, coming in at between four and five centimeters.
Well I think it’s a beautiful fish!
There is more on this species here and here, and the paper is:
FRIEL, J.P. & VIGLIOTTA, T.R. “Synodontis acanthoperca, a new species from the Ogooue River system, Gabon with comments on spiny ornamentation and sexual dimorphism in mochokid catfishes (Siluriformes: Mochokidae)” Zootaxa 1125: 45-56 (10 Feb. 2006) [pdf]
On a related note, my sun catfish (Horabagrus brachysoma) has decided that guppies are a food item and has polished one off every few evenings. There’s now one left. Ummm.
Went and bought some new fish for my tank today – a sun catfish (Horabagrus brachysoma) and a lace catfish (Synodontis sp.). I admit to having a certain liking for catfish species. These two will join my peppered corys (Corydoras paleatus) and common plec (Hypostomus punctatus) at the bottom of the tank, while the top and mid-layers have a mixture of danios, guppies and swordtails. I think I need a bigger tank