Invasive Species Spotlight: Armored Catfish
If you live on a lake or pond in Florida, you’re no doubt used to seeing a plethora of wildlife in the aquatic habitats, but one creature might make you do a double-take. The armored catfish (Pterygoplichthys sp.) is a distinct invasive species that originates from Central and South America. It is believed that they entered the United States around the 1950s through the aquarium trade. Like native catfish species, armored catfish are bottom dwellers and have sucker-like mouths, but Pterygoplichthys are covered in bony-like black plates that give the species a prehistoric look.
Armored Catfish Burrows Can Cause Erosion
Like most invasive species, armored catfish have few natural predators because the local ecosystem has not evolved to support this animal. In turn, this exotic species has populated prolifically over the years. In addition to crowding out native wildlife by monopolizing resources, the invasive species have been destroying lake and pond shorelines for decades.
Armored catfish burrow into shoreline areas to mate and lay eggs. Over time, this can severely destabilize the bank, which can cause erosion, muck development, equipment damage, and conditions that encourage algae and toxic cyanobacteria. It can also pose dangerous hazards for passersby and threaten property value. SOLitude’s team of Fisheries Biologists works closely with community members and lake and pond owners to identify these dangers and implement an invasive species management plan.
Strategic electrofishing, physical removal, and netting and trapping are a few techniques our Fisheries Biologists perform to control this invasive fish species. These management methods may need to be conducted on a recurring basis to fully establish long-term control. As always, invasive species are best managed through prevention. This requires community-wide education, monitoring, and reporting to ensure species infestations are identified and addressed as soon as possible – before they can alter the surrounding ecosystem. Contact your fisheries management professional to learn more about armored catfish and how our team of experts can help support Armored Catfish management efforts.