Eel catfish

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Eel catfish
Channallabes apus.jpg
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Siluriformes
Family: Clariidae
Genus: Channallabes
C. apus
Binomial name
Channallabes apus
Günther, 1873

The eel catfish (Channallabes apus) is an airbreathing catfish found in the muddy swamps of the tropics of Central Africa. The fish grows to 32.7 cm long TL (12.9 inches) and is notable for the ability to propel itself out of the water to catch prey.

The thin eel-shaped body of C. apus is black or dark brown, with widely spaced spines.[1] A suprabranchial organ, formed by tree-like structures from the second and fourth gill arches, allows the eel catfish to take in oxygen directly from the air for short periods.[2] Its eyes are small and hidden, and it lacks pectoral fins entirely.[1] Like many anguilliform clariids, its jaw muscles are hypertrophic, a modification that has been linked to increased bite force.[3]

The eel catfish hunts both in and out of the water, having a different method for each. In water, C. apus sucks water and food into its mouth. To catch food on land, the eel catfish lifts the front of its body up, and bends its mouth down on the prey. Its specially adapted spine allows it to do so without weight-bearing pectoral fins.[4]


  1. ^ a b Boulenger, George Albert (1901), Les poissons du basin du Congo, État indépendant du Congo, p. 264
  2. ^ Nelson, Joseph S. (2006). Fishes of the World. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. ISBN 0-471-25031-7.
  3. ^ Anthony Herrel; Dominique Adriaens; Walter Verraes & Peter Aerts (2002), "Bite Performance in Clariid Fishes With Hypertrophied Jaw Adductors as Deduced by Bite Modeling" (PDF), Journal of Morphology (253): 196–205, archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-07-06
  4. ^ Walker, Matt (2007), Fish That Fake Orgasms: And Other Zoological Curiosities, Macmillan, p. 89, ISBN 0-312-37116-0

External links[edit]

  • Video from Nature
  • Video video of the Eel Catfish eating, from YouTube