|Class: Fishes: 4
||Diet: Fish, aquatic
cm (12 in)
|Family: No Fish family
often stagnant waters
India, Sri Lanka, Southeast Asia; introduced in USA: Florida
walking catfish is, indeed, capable of moving on land and, when it does
so, is able to breathe air. It belongs to the family Clariidae, whose members
have additional, specialized breathing organs opening off the gill arches.
These are saclike structures containing many-branched extensions, well
supplied with blood vessels for respiration. An elongate fish, this
catfish has long-based dorsal and anal fins and several pairs of sensory
barbels; its skin is scaleless but liberally supplied with mucus, which
protects the fish when it is out of water. These catfishes live in ponds
or temporary pools, some of which may disappear in prolonged dry spells.
When this happens, the catfish can move overland to another body of water,
making snakelike movements and using its pectoral fins as "legs." If necessary,
the walking catfish can bury itself in mud at the bottom of a pond and
remain dormant throughout a dry season until the rains return. It feeds
on aquatic invertebrates and fish.