This ray-finned fish is named for its prominent “barbels” that protrude like the whiskers of a cat. Related to characins, carp and minnows, various species range in size and behavior with nearly 2,900 species placed in about 35 families around the world. The largest species are the Mekong giant catfish in the Mekong River in Southeast Asia, the wels catfish in Eurasia, and the Piraíba in South America.
As for North American catfish, relatively little is known about their behavior. We know that they are bottom dwellers and they are more active at night than during daytime. They’re considered omnivorous (consuming most anything), which led researchers to the question: how catfish feeding behavior influences the survival of other native fish species, like threatened and endangered Pacific salmonids. Using HTI acoustic tags, researchers are observing fine-scale catfish movement to help answer those questions. Here’s one example: