Sea Catfish Family Photos and Information – Ariidae

The Sea Catfish Family – Ariidae

Cominate Sea Catfish, Occidentarius platypogon, a representative member of the Sea Catfish or Ariidae Family.

The fish of the Sea Catfish or Ariidae Family are known in Mexico’s fishing areas as bagres marinos. Globally, there are 153 members in the Ariidae Family that are placed in 30 genera and found circumglobally. Fifteen members are found in Mexican waters, four in the Atlantic and eleven in the Pacific. They have traditional “catfish” like bodies and are silvery gray dorsally transitioning to white ventrally. They are medium to large fish that can exceed 1.0 meter (3 feet 3 inches) in length. They have a large rounded and depressed head with the top covered with a rough bony shield that is partly visible through their skin and extends back to the origin of their dorsal fin. They have three pairs of barbels around their mouth and two pairs of closely set nostrils with the rear pair having a skin flap in front. Their caudal fin is deeply forked; their first dorsal fin has a short base with one stiff venomous spine and seven rays; their second dorsal fin is a small adipose fin; their pectoral fins have a large first spine; and their pelvic fins have six rays. They have 7 to 42 gill rakers. Their lateral line is complete. They are covered with smooth scaleless skin.

The Sea Catfish are found primarily in coastal tropical and warm oceanic waters but also in freshwater and brackish environments. They are unique among catfish in that they are mouthbrooders with males carrying a small clutch of a few dozen eggs for about two months in their mouth until the eggs hatch and the fry are free-swimming. They date to the Lower Tertiary and Lower Eocene periods, 23 to 66 million years ago.

The Sea Catfish are edible but have a mixed reputation as a game fish notorious for their ability to steal bait. The smaller species are used by the aquarium trade at a minor level.

Six Sea Catfish are currently included in this website, two from the Atlantic and four from the Pacific.

Chihuil, Bagre panamensis
Cominate Sea Catfish, Occidentarius platypogon

Hardhead Catfish, Ariopsis felis
Gafftopsail Catfish, Bagre marinus
Long-barbeled Sea Catfish, Bagre pinnimaculatus
Tete Sea Catfish, Ariopsis seemanni