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For additional species called "dogfish", see Dogfish (disambiguation).
Temporal range: Upper Jurassic–Recent[1]
Catshark oedv.jpg
Whitesaddled catshark, Scyliorhinus hesperius
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Chondrichthyes
Subclass: Elasmobranchii
Superorder: Selachimorpha
Order: Carcharhiniformes
Family: Scyliorhinidae
T. N. Gill, 1862
Small-spotted catshark, Scyliorhinus canicula

Catsharks are ground sharks of the family Scyliorhinidae, with over 150 known species. Although they are generally known as catsharks, many species are commonly called dogfish or gato. Catsharks are found in temperate and tropical seas worldwide, ranging from very shallow intertidal waters to depths of 2,000 m (6,600 ft) or more, depending on species.[1]


Catshark egg (mermaids' purse)

Catsharks may be distinguished by their elongated, cat-like eyes and two small dorsal fins set far back. Most species are fairly small, growing no longer than 80 cm (31 in); a few, such as the nursehound (Scyliorhinus stellaris) can reach 1.6 m (5.2 ft) in length. Most of the species have a patterned appearance, ranging from stripes to patches to spots. They feed on invertebrates and smaller fish. Some species are aplacental viviparous, but most lay eggs in tough egg cases with curly tendrils at each end, known as mermaid's purses.

The "swell sharks" of the genus Cephaloscyllium have the curious ability to fill their stomachs with water or air when threatened, increasing their girth by a factor of one to three.


The chain catshark is bioflourescent.[2][3][4]


The Australian marbled catshark, Atelomycterus macleayi, is a favored type for home aquaria, because it rarely grows to more than 60 cm (2.0 ft) in length.[citation needed] The coral catshark, however, is the most common scyliorhinid in home aquaria.[5]


The family includes 17 genera and over 150 species,[1] making it the largest family of sharks.[5]


  • Scyliorhinidae
    • Scyliorhininae
    • Galeinae
      • Pentanchini
      • Galeini
        • Galeina
        • Halelaelurina
    • Atelomycterininae
    • Schroedericthyinae


  1. ^ a b c Froese, Rainer, and Daniel Pauly, eds. (2009). "Scyliorhinidae" in FishBase. January 2009 version.
  2. ^ "Scientists Discover 180 Species of Glowing Fish". Retrieved 2015-07-08. 
  3. ^ "Sharks Light Up in Neon Colors". Retrieved 2015-07-08. 
  4. ^ Sparks, John S.; Schelly, Robert C.; Smith, W. Leo; Davis, Matthew P.; Tchernov, Dan; Pieribone, Vincent A.; Gruber, David F. (January 8, 2014). "The Covert World of Fish Biofluorescence: A Phylogenetically Widespread and Phenotypically Variable Phenomenon". PLoS ONE 9 (1): e83259. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0083259. PMC 3885428. PMID 24421880. 
  5. ^ a b Michael, Scott W. (March 2004), "Sharks at Home", Aquarium Fish Magazine, pp. 20–29 

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