There are many different types of Catfish. The Catfish is
named for its barbels that are prominent and look like cat's
whiskers. They are bony fish that can range in size from
the Mekong Giant Catfish that is the longest and is from
Southeast Asia to the tiny parasitic Candiru.
Catfish live all over the world except the Antarctic waters,
but Catfish are the most plentiful in tropical regions like
Africa, America and Asia. More than half the Catfish species
live in the Americas.
Some fish in the Catfish family don't have any barbels at
all. Some have no scales; others have what seems like armor
plating. Most are bottom feeders that stay deep in the water
to scavenge dead fish and other organic material. They are
all from the order Siluriformes which have nothing to do
with having barbels. Rather, fish belonging to this order
have a particular skull shape and swim bladder type.
Catfish are primarily a freshwater fish and like to live in
shallow running waters. Some Catfish live in caves while
others prefer the underground river system. Catfish are some
of the most successful fish to colonize underground or cave
Catfish in general are negatively buoyant and have no
trouble staying on the bottom of a river or stream as they
tend to sink. Most Catfish has a cylindrical body with a
flattened ventrum. This makes them ideal as bottom feeders.
In about half of the families of Catfish gender dimorphism
has been reported. This means that the female and the male
vary in appearance.
Catfish are necessary to help clean water sources that have
living things in them. They are a necessary part of the
aquatic habitat. The larger Catfish varieties are often
farmed or caught for food. Some Catfish are commercially
fished as a food source. The small Catfish are important to
help maintain a healthy balance in fish tanks and small
bodies of water.
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