> Subphylum Vertebrate > fishes >
learn only 3 things about them ...
They have 'whiskers'. These don't sting. These are used
to find food in murky waters.
The tail fin is forked.
have venomous spines. Don't touch them!
seen? These whiskery fishes usually leave for deeper waters
at low tide. Sometimes, you might come across one trapped in a pool
at low tide. Fishermen, however, often catch them when angling from
jetties. Small juveniles were once seen in numbers on Chek Jawa among
What are sea catfishes? Sea catfishes
belong to the Family Ariidae. According to FishBase:
The family has 14 genera and 120 species. Most of the members of this
family live in the sea. Only a few found in freshwater. They are found
in tropical and subtropical waters.
Features: To about 20-30cm long.
The blunt snout usually has 3, rarely 2, pairs of 'whiskers' (called
barbels) around the mouth. There are bony plates on the head and near
the dorsal fin. The tail fin is forked. These fishes have a venomous
spine on the dorsal fin, and on each of the pectoral fins. These spines
are used to protect themselves against predators, and not to catch
prey. Their stings can be excruciating and long-lasting. So please
don't handle any catfishes.
All the fishes in this page are Hexanematichthys sagor previously
known as Arius sagor. Thanks to Dr Ng Heok Hee for identifying
Catfish babies: The males usually
carry the relatively large eggs in his mouth until the eggs hatch.
Sometimes mistaken for eel-tail
catfishes. Eel-tail catfishes also have barbels but their tail
fins are eel-like and not forked as in the sea catfishes.
What do they eat? Adapted for
hunting in murky waters for prawns, worms and other titbits hiding
on or in the ground. The barbels around the catfish's mouth help find
prey where visibility is poor. The barbels have taste buds to help
sense food. They don't use their barbels to sting.
Human uses: Some species are important
commercial food fishes, sold fresh or salted.
Status and threats: None of our
sea catfishes are listed among the threatened animals of Singapore.
However, like other creatures of the intertidal zone, they are affected
by human activities such as reclamation and pollution. Over-collection
can also have an impact on local populations.
This large one
was caught by a fisherman.
Pulau Sekudu, May 04
ones (about 6cm) are sometimes seen in
large numbers on the shores.
Chek Jawa, Jun 03
large one (20cm) was trapped
in a rock pool at low tide.
Chek Jawa, Jan 02
*Species are difficult to positively identify without close examination.
On this website, they are grouped by external features for convenience of
catfishes on Singapore shores
Ariidae recorded for Singapore
Ng, H. H., 2012. The
ariid catfishes of Singapore.
Hemiarius sona=*Sciades sona