Ariopsis felis

Super Group: 
Linnaeus 1766
Silurus felis (Linnaeus, 1766)
Arius felis (Linnaeus, 1766)
Arius milberti (Valenciennes, 1840)
Galeichthys felis (Linnaeus, 1766)
Galeichthys milberti (Valenciennes, 1840)
Hexanematichthys felis (Linnaeus, 1766)


Diagnosis_Genus: Ariopsis Gill. Caput nudum. Os cirris aliquot filiformibus tentaculatum. Membr. branch. radiis IV- XIV. Corpus: Radius pinnarum pectoralium aut dorsalis primus spinosus, retrodentatus.

Diagnosis_Species: Silurus felis Linnaeus. pinna dorsali postica adiposa, ani radiis 23, cirris 6, cauda bisida. B.5. D.1/8, 0.P.1/11.V.6.A.23.C.31. Habitat in Carolina. D. Garden. Cirri sub labio inferiore 4, supra sinus oris utrinque I. Dorsum caerulescens. P. ventrales analisque rubescentes. Cauda bifida. Assinis S. Cato.
Ariopsis felis, the sea catfish, is an elongate marine catfish that reaches 49.5 cm in length (Perret et al. 1971). The head is depressed in profile, with the mouth inferior. There are 3 pairs of barbels present. The maxillary barbels are nearly as long as the head, while the other 2 pairs are much shorter and set under the chin. The dorsal fin, anal fin and pectoral fins each bear a single strong spine. The dorsal fin has 7 soft rays, the anal fin has 19-20 rays and the pectoral fin has 6-10 rays. A pair of ventral fins is set far posterior to the origin of the dorsal fin. The adipose fin is black in color. The caudal fin and anal fins are generally tipped with black, while the remainder of the fins are dusky in color. Females have larger pelvic fins than males (Lee 1937; Merriman 1940; Muncy and Wingo 1983).
Body_adults_length: 49.5 cm
Body_adults_length_max: 70 cm
Body_juveniles_length: 6.8-8.8 cm
Body_female_length_sexual_maturity: 12.6 - 26.5 cm (Merriman 1940; Benson 1962)
Body_male_length_sexual_maturity: 25 cm (Merriman 1940)
Body_max_weight: 5.5 kg
Body_eggs_length: 6-8 mm (in April), 9-14 mm (in May), 14-16 mm (in June and July)
Toxicity: Yes (Vibrio parahaemolyticus and Vibrio vulnificus bacteria) (All of the Ariidae are equipped with venomous pectoral and dorsal fin spines. Consequently they need to be handled with care. In general the risk to the aquarist is minimal, and they don’t use these spines as offensive weapons, even when frightened. But if you manhandle these catfish roughly, or try to grab a specimen trapped in a net, you may be in for an unpleasant surprise. The venom isn’t fatal, but it is extremely painful).


Etymology: Ariopsis: Greek, ari = very, strength, superiority + Greek, opsis = appearance

Type species

The type species for the genus Ariopsis is Arius milberti (Valenciennes, 1840).

Type illustration / Type locality / Type specimen

Type locality: Charleston Harbor, South Carolina, U.S.A.


Habitat: Estuarine
Habitat: Adults inhabit continental waters and enter estuaries. Found in turbid waters over muddy bottoms. Bagre marinus ranges from Cape Cod, Massachusetts south through coastal Florida and the Gulf of Mexico to the Yucatan Peninsula. They are much more common south of the Chesapeake Bay region (Muncy and Wingo 1983).
Salinity: marine
Salinity: variable
Temperature_adults: 25-36°C
Migratory: Yes. Diel vertical migration
Causality_of_migration: Temperature (avoid water temperatures below 6°C in the winter months by migrating offshore where water temperatures are more stable, returning to inshore areas in the spring)
Temporality_of_migration: Seasonal (winter and spring)
Depth: Epipelagic (max 158.5 m)
Oxygen_level: Oxic

Life cycle

Longevity: more than 3 years (5-8 years)
Generation_time: 1 to 3 years (before year of 2, Benson 1982)
Reproduction_mode: sexual

Fecundity-number_of_eggs_per_spawning: 20 - 65 (Numerous small, non-functioning eggs are often found attached to large, viable eggs. Gunter (1947) speculated that these smaller eggs might be utilized as a food source for males brooding offspring)

Fertility_period: Seasonal (During spring and summer) (from May through August)
Spawning_method: External fertilization in demersal area (It has been proposed that the highly modified (females) pelvic fins may be the site of fertilization and may play a role in transferring fertilized eggs to the mouth of the male for incubation (Gunter 1947). However, it is also possible that males pick up eggs from shallow depression in sand, as eggs, while adhesive, tend to be demersal).
Sexual_dimorphism: Females develop flap-like fatty tissue on their pelvic fins at maturity, and thus have larger pelvic fins than males of the species (Lee 1937; Merriman 1940)

Feeding behaviour


Mode of locomotion

Motility: motile_swimming


Observation site(s)


Displaying 1 - 1 of 1
Association with... Region origin Name of site In reference...
Amyloodinium ocellatum Gulf Coast Research Laboratory