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The Walking Catfish Exotic Species
03-26-2013, 11:45 AM, (This post was last modified: 03-26-2013, 11:50 AM by 4sweed.)
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4sweed Offline
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The Walking Catfish Exotic Species
In Florida, another exotic fish is the Walking Catfish, (Clasias batrachus),
best know as the fish who can "breathe air" and "walk on land."
These exotic fish made there way into Florida, during 1964-1968, when exotic fish importers brought thousands of walking catfish in from their native homeland of Thailand.

When demand for them slowed down the fish were dumped into shallow holding ponds at a farm near Fort Launderdale, along the Broward and Palm Beach county line. From there the fish escaped into the wild. within a five year time-frame these fish had become established throughout the Broward and Palm Beach counties.

Moving west-ward the walking catfish found it's way into Lake Okeechobee, and onward into the extenive brackish waters of the intracoastal waterways. By 1975, these fish were in Lake Placid, and many surrounding lakes and rivers, and ponds.

This fish has a type of modified apparatus located behind it's gills that functions like lungs. It allows the fish to breathe air directly from the atmosphere and allows this fish to surive many hours out of the water.
It's only major danger is drought conditions.

It uses it's pectoral fins to aid it's locomotion, using the long stiff spines to dig into the ground as he slips and slithers overland. This walking catfish is a prolific breeder and eats available vegetation needed by native fish. It also eats the eggs and larval forms of native fish and will even attack and kill adult fish.

When this species of fish invades a pond it follows a certain pattern. First the pond is stripped of animal life and then the catfish will often go into a form of hibernation, until it rains, and then it will move on to the next body of water. Despite their large appetite it is said they can go without eating for 8 months or more and suffer very little weight loss.

In the United States these catfish can survive warmer weather better than cold weather. If the tempertures drop under 30 degrees it can weaken there defense systems and they can develop skin infections which can kill them. Raccoons and otters, along with bears and alligators, have been known to eat these fish.

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03-26-2013, 05:50 PM,
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RE: The Walking Catfish Exotic Species
You do not say whether or not this species is breeding in the wild, but if so many of them have been dumped, it is likely that they have become established as an alien species.

It is very irresponsible for importers of foreign fish to dump their stock locally. They should have their licences removed and be fined if they are found doing this, but I suppose it is quite difficult to prove exactly who did it.

They should not be too difficult to hunt if they are seen "walking" around.
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03-27-2013, 09:21 AM, (This post was last modified: 03-27-2013, 09:21 AM by 4sweed.)
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RE: The Walking Catfish Exotic Species
Acually Rube, I did say they are prolific breeders, meaning they lay lots of eggs and produce many young. Walking catfish are an invasive exotic fish, and while they do go walking on dry land, the best way they are caught is in pools or ponds of water, with fishing nets.

I once went with friends who had been hired to clear out someones shallow fish pond. The walking catfish had eaten all the young small fish and killed their koi. The men entered the pond and stretched nets across the water letting the weighted side of the net to hit the bottom, then waded across the pond. This gathered all the catfish together where they were put into containers with lids. Men stood on the banks catching any that attempted to escape. These fish are amazing to see, slithering across dry land, but are a real problem to the areas of southern Florida.
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