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Walking Catfish Clarias Batrachus commonly referred to as the Walking Catfish is one of Floridas many invasive species These fish have a long body a wide anterior and a slender rear With small eyes and villiform teeth the coloration of these fish ranges from dark brown or purple to black with white specks on their rear and gray green fins The Walking Catfish is highly variable in structure and is one of the few species in which an albino variety exists Biologically these fish possess a large accessory-breathing organ which enables them to breath atmospheric oxygen They are very well known for their ability to walk on land for long distances especially during or immediately following rainfall This species is found in all types of water but is more common in turbid muddy and swampy waters The Walking catfish is a tropical species with a moderate tolerance to colder waters During cold dry months these catfish burrow into the sides of ponds and streams where they remai n dormant until the spring rains initiate Walking catfish were originally introduced to Florida by means of an accidental release from Penagra Aquariums west of Deerfield Beach in Broward county during the mid 1960s The escaped specimens were from a brood that originated in Thailand An angler caught the first specimen reported from open waters on the 15th of March of 1967 Walking catfish remain one of the most notorious and harmful non-indigenous species in the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem Since its introduction in the 1960s the species has rapidly expanded its range throughout Florida It is a voracious predator feeding opportunistically on what is available Effects on native fishes are especially apparent in small wetland pools during the dry season where walking catfish can quickly become the dominant species Native centrarchids and catfishes appear to be the most affected This species has been reported to kill large bass without subsequently eating them It has been predicted
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