Saturday, July 19, 2008

UPDATE: The Walking Catfish of Florida

The Walking Catfish of Florida video from yesterday's funhouse must have really struck a nerve with a lot of people, as I got a lot of email about it. My thanks go out to Steve Kuchman for setting the record straight. He wrote me the following note and graciously allowed me to post it so we all know what a horrible pest this fish actually is.

I am at work now and just saw the catfish video that you posted on your blog.  Joe is correct, they do indeed walk.

The catfish is a species called the Clarius Catfish and is from Asia.  They were imported into Florida for the tropical fish market and back in the 60's (I believe) and many escaped into local Florida waters during a flood.  They are a very invasive species, tolerating water temperatures from 40 degrees to 120 degrees, and ph levels from very acidic to very akaline, and low oxygen levels that even carp cannot even survive in.  Plus they are generalistc feeders and eat everything they can grab.  Add that to the fact that they can walk to other bodies of water for food, etc, you can see why they are so evasive.

It's too late now as they have taken hold in Florida and are now a permanent species.  They found out they could walk when they tried to poison some of the ponds they were living in and they just got out and walked to the next pond!  Scary!

They are normally Grayish/Black in color (like the one in the video that Joe sent to you), but there are also Albino versions that are White w/Pink Eyes.

About 25 years ago, I had an Albino one that I raised in an aquarium.  It was 2 inches long when I got it and I raised it until it weighed 3.8 lbs. and 22 inches long, then I traded it to another aquarium hobbyist.   I had to keep it by itself as it would kill & eat anything I tried to put with it.  The Albino ones are nearly blind, but have incredible senses of smell, touch & vibration.  I used to feed mine live Goldfish, and it would catch them just by sensing where they were, even in the dark.

Anyway, there's a little info for you on the infamous Clarius (Walking) Catfish.

Thanks a ton Steve! Very informative information, but the thought of a white catfish with pink eyes walking on land will now haunt my nightmares. Thanks or that visual.

-- Dr. Todd

No comments: