So this weekend I got the chance to watch this super interesting documentary, “Catfish,” which chronicles Yaniv “Nev” Schulman’s encounter with a ‘catfish,’ a woman who posed online as several other people and proceeded to form an intimate relationship with the unsuspecting Mr. Schulman. He ultimately discovered her true identity, which didn’t quite resemble the person he had expected to be talking to. I don’t want to give the whole thing away, so make sure to watch it if you get a chance . It was a fantastic film! No wonder there’s now a show based on the documentary on MTV… go Nev!
Anyways, I was inspired by this odd catfish lady to make a list of strange catfish species, because as you may or may not have known, there are hundreds of truly bizarre types of catfish swimming around the
internet world’s rivers and oceans. Check them out!
Ripsaw Catfish or Cuiu Cuiu
Starting off our list of freaky whiskered fish is this species of thorny catfish called the Ripsaw Catfish or Cuiu Cuiu (Oxydoras niger). It’s a a living fossil, with ancestors being traced back to the Paleozoic period. They’re easily identified by their menacing appearance in which dozens of razor-sharp armored scales adored with short thorn-like hooks run down their sides.
Sometimes literature refers to these fish as “talking catfish” because they can be heard making audible noises underwater, as if they are communicating with one another. I hope they’re not plotting something sinister using those terrifying scales… dun dun dun.
The Punk Pleco (Neblinichthys pilosus) gets its name from the Mohawk its rocking on the front of its face. The whiskers allow it to feel around the murky waters it resides in. Either that or its just insanely set on being known as a “punk rock fish” for life.
There isn’t actually a common name for this strange-looking species of catfish, known only by its scientific name Brochiloricaria chauliodon, but I decided it resembled a tiny mermaid… with weird googly eyes. The tail is shaped so gracefully that you might expect it to be attached to Ariel rather than this armored catfish. Both eyes sit directly on top of its head, since it’s typically found on the bottom of the river, meaning it would need to look up to watch for danger, rather than to both sides. I just love this guys overall facial expression. o_o
Blotched Upside-down Catfish
photo: Jaroslav Hofmann
photo via: aquariumlife.net
Habitat: native to the Congo Basin of Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Republic of the Congo
Status: Least Concern
This odd catfish has previously been showcased on The Featured Creature but I loved it so much that I just had to bring it back for this list of strange species. Instead of swimming like a normal fish, these Blotched Upside-down Catfish (Synodontis nigriventris) whisk around upside down (as their name suggests). The reason for this isn’t exactly clear, though researchers guess that it’s a feeding strategy. In the wild, it often grazes on the underside of submerged branches and logs, and swimming upside down makes these areas more accessible. Personally, I like to think its just had too much to drink to swim straight. I always chuckle at that thought. Hehe. Did it again.
This might be my favorite catfish on the list. It’s called the Medusa Pleco (Ancistrus ranunculus) because of the snake-like appendages that fan out around its face. They’re just for feeling around, but they definitely give this fish a super strange appearance. Its specific epithet literally means small frog or tadpole (ranunculus=diminutive frog or tadpole) and refers to its unusually wide head. So basically this fish is terribly attractive, with a huge head and tentacled face. Hot.
Mekong Giant Catfish
photo: Suthep Kritsanavarin
photo: Zeb Hogan/University of Nevada-Reno
photo via: http://www.john-tom.com
Habitat: native to the Mekong basin in Southeast Asia
Status: Critically Endangered
This is the mother of all catfish: the Mekong Giant Catfish (Pangasianodon gigas) which is only found in the Mekong basin in Southeast Asia. In Thai folklore, this huge fish is regarded with reverence, and special rituals are followed and offerings are made before fishing it. Looks like people need to stop praying and start practicing a little conservation, though, since this wonderful creature is currently listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN of Threatened Species. The number living in the wild is unknown, but catch data indicate the population has fallen by 80% in the last 14 years. Luckily, fishermen decided in June 2006 to stop catching the endangered fish so hopefully this will give the species a fighting chance to repopulate.
Recorded sizes of up to 10.5 ft (3.2 m) and 660 lb (300 kg) allowed the Mekong’s giant catfish to enter the Guinness Book of World Records where it currently holds the title for the world’s largest freshwater fish. High five!