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Species: Ariopsis assimilis, Maya Sea Catfish

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head groove v short, ends well behind eye
rear edge 1st 2 gill arches - with rakers
gill rakers: 1st arch 16-18, 2nd arch 18-22, 31-36 combined
female: pads on pelvic bases
pelvic base - top black

Ariopsis assimilis (Gunther, 1864)

Maya Sea Catfish

Head rounded, only slightly flattened above; snout rounded as viewed from above; bony head shield very rough, covered with thin skin, extends to opposite eyes at front; a short central narrow longitudinal groove on shield ends well behind eyes; a broad based bony process at end of shield narrows and shortens at rear, has a slight central keel, extends back to meet a shield-shaped bone plate at base of dorsal fin; 2 pairs of close-set nostrils; no fleshy furrow extends across snout and connects rear nostrils; mouth under snout; 3 pairs of barbels (on chin and both jaws); gill opening wide, membranes not adhering to breast; teeth on roof of mouth in 2 small, narrowly separated or touching oval to square patches in center and 2 large oval patches on sides, these teeth never molar-like; 3-5 tiny rakers on upper rear surfaces of first two gill arches; 1st gill arch with 16-18 rakers on side, 2nd arch with 18-20; mature females have fleshy protuberances on pelvic fins; tail fin deeply forked; a complete lateral line, with branches to top and bottom base of tail fin, no scales.

Yellowish brown above, shading to whitish below; top barbels grey above, white below; chin barbels yellow-white; pectorals white, with black at base that extends onto spine; top of base of pelvic fin intensely black; anal fin silver; tail fin grey, with dark central rays.

Reaches 35 cm.

Primarily in freshwater, but also turbid brackish water in estuaries and lagoons.

Depth range 1-20 m?

NW Caribbean.

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  • Brackish
  • Freshwater
  • Non Marine
  • Inshore
  • Inshore Only
Water Column Position
  • Bottom
  • Sand & gravel
  • Soft bottom (mud/sand/gravel/beach/estuary/mangrove/seagrass)
  • Soft bottom only
  • Estuary
  • Freshwater
  • Mud
FishBase Habitat
  • Demersal
Feeding Group
  • Carnivore
  • Data
  • Data
  • Bony fishes
  • Mobile benthic crustacea (shrimps/crabs)
Egg Type
  • Brooded
  • Data
  • No pelagic larva
  • No pelagic phase
Global Endemism
  • All species
  • Greater Caribbean endemic
  • West Atlantic Endemic
Regional Endemism
  • Caribbean endemic
  • Continent
  • Continent only
  • GC endemic
  • All species
  • Resident
Climate Zone
  • Tropical (10-23N, Nicaragua / Cuba)
IUCN Red List
  • Least concern
  • Listed
  • Not listed
Length Max
  • 35
Depth Range Min
  • 1
Depth Range Max
  • 20