Written by: on June 21, 2021 @ 8:00 am

Join High Touch High Tech in celebrating
National Catfish Day
June 25th!

Image Source: Pixabay.com

When you hear the word “catfish” it may bring up different associations in your mind. For many of us, “catfish” refers to an internet scam where a person is lured in by a fake dating profile and then targeted for money.   If you are a Southerner, catfish refers to a delicious food served battered and deep fried, always with a side of French fries and a sweet tea.  When you look at how versatile and widespread actual Catfish, Siluriformes, are, it seems perfectly appropriate that there are so many associations attached to their name.  Sometimes underestimated as gross bottom feeders (they have been known to nibble on dead bodies) or a cheap trash fish, in reality, catfish boast a dinosaur-era lineage, a worldwide range, impressive adaptability, AND the biggest freshwater fish in the world, the Mekong Giant Catfish, Pangasianodon Gigas.  There is even a species that can “walk” on land.  Underestimate the humble catfish at your own peril, because not only are they tough, but they are everywhere, and they are BIG!  (And yes, even the biggest ones are said to be delicious.)

Of course, we at High Touch High Tech would NEVER condone eating a Mekong Giant Catfish, because they are critically endangered.  Catfish are known to get exceptionally large, with the Wels Catfish in Europe reaching 8 feet and the Piraiba of the Amazon reaching 7 feet.  However, the Mekong Catfish is considered King of All Catfish because it is the largest catfish in the world, with one caught in 2005 tipping the scales at 646 pounds and measuring 9 feet!  This incredible catch means that the Mekong Giant Catfish is the largest freshwater fish ever recorded. 

Although catfish species can be found in rivers, lakes, marine environments, sometimes even on land, and are hugely popular with aquarium keepers in homes all over the world, the Mekong Giant Catfish has sadly not fared well in the last few decades.  The Mekong Giant Catfish was once seen regularly in its home, the massive Mekong River in Southeast Asia, but now scientists report they are lucky to get a sighting once a year.  The bounteous Mekong River supported these enormous fish easily in the past, because the river itself, which flows through six nations in Asia, is spacious and full of diverse fish and plant species.  But the Mekong Catfish is a highly migratory species, and in recent decades, dams and development along the river have especially affected its favored spawning ground.  Fortunately, scientists like Zeb Hogan are committed to tracking and understanding the exact habitat needs of the Giant Mekong Catfish, and are working with locals to support and protect the precious Mekong Catfish.   Check out Dr. Hogan’s efforts in the link below and be sure to wish your local catfish a happy Catfish Day on June 25th!

If learning about unique aquatic species gets you excited, check out our Sea Urchin Symmetry at-home experiment. Review the lesson linked below, grab your supplies, and start exploring!

Sea Urchin Symmetry Lesson Plan: https://sciencemadefun.net/downloads/EOTD_Sea_Urchin_Symmetry_Lesson.pdf

Sources:

Impressive Catfish Facts:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eaCQ4ZAsAgc

The Biggest Catfish Ever Caught All Around the World:
https://largest.org/animals/catfish/

Dr. Hogan’s Conservation Efforts:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_JvRyYyMoA8

Tracking the Spawn of Mekong Catfish:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iIBv6yJcVKE

An Excellent Documentary on Life along the Mekong:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_AqvJaHk-N4

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