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North American freshwater catfishes


The North American freshwater catfishes is a fish family found only in freshwater rivers and lakes of North America from southern Canada to Guatemala. There are about 45 species. Members of this family have no scales on their bodies and have 8 barbels (also called “whiskers,” sensory organs used by fish to feel their way around and to feel for food) near their mouths. They can grow up to 1.6 meters and over 50 kilograms but many species are small, weighing up to half a kilogram. Like other catfish, these fish can sting with the mildly venomous tips of their fins. These catfish are generally bottom-feeders and scavengers.

University of Michigan Museum of ZoologyNational Science Foundation

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. "Ictaluridae" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed May 25, 2024 at

BioKIDS is sponsored in part by the Interagency Education Research Initiative. It is a partnership of the University of Michigan School of Education, University of Michigan Museum of Zoology, and the Detroit Public Schools. This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant DRL-0628151.
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