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Species: Cathorops melanopus, Dark sea-catfish, Dark Sea Catfish

All Families:   All Genera:   All Species:

head 22.3-23% SL
pelvics & pectorals intensely black
gill rakers: 1st arch 17-18, 2nd 16-18
pectoral spine short, long serrations
A 19-21

Cathorops melanopus (Gunther, 1864)

Dark sea-catfish

Head short, depressed, 22.3-23% of SL; body wider than deep at level of pectorals, snout short (5.3-5.5% of SL), rounded; eye large, 4.5-5% of SL; shield on top of head rough, covered with thin skin, narrow, not or barely extending to level of rear edge of eyes, its rear process with a broad base, narrow and short at rear, with a central keel, meeting a small, crescent-shaped plate at front of base of dorsal fin spine ; a deep groove along center of top of head, becoming narrower at rear; 2 pairs of close-set nostrils; no fleshy furrow extends across snout and connects rear nostrils; three pairs of barbels (on chin and both jaws), that on top jaw reaching past base of pectoral spine; mouth narrow (8.9-9.7% of SL), lower jaw arched, lips thick; teeth on roof of mouth at sides only, in 1 pair of well separated narrow elongate patches,  those teeth small and molar-like; gill opening restricted to sides by adhesion of gill membranes to breast; well developed, uniformly distributed gill rakers present on front and  rear surfaces of first two gill arches, 17-18 on first arch, 16-18 on second; no fleshy papillae between gill rakers on first two gill arches; pectoral fin spine short, with prominent, long serrations on rear edge; anal fin 19-21 rays; tail fin deeply forked; a complete lateral line, with branches to top and bottom base of tail fin, no scales.

Uniform grey; intense black coloring on pelvic & pectoral fins.

Reaches 30 cm.

A few specimens collected in freshwater, likely enters brackish water like the other members of its genus in the area.

Depth range: 0-10 m.


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  • Freshwater
  • Non Marine
  • Brackish
  • Inshore Only
  • Inshore
Water Column Position
  • Bottom
  • Estuary
  • Freshwater
  • Soft bottom only
  • Soft bottom (mud/sand/gravel/beach/estuary/mangrove/seagrass)
  • Mud
FishBase Habitat
  • Demersal
Feeding Group
  • Data
  • Carnivore
  • Data
  • Mobile benthic crustacea (shrimps/crabs)
  • Bony fishes
  • Insects
Egg Type
  • No pelagic phase
  • Data
  • Brooded
  • No pelagic larva
Global Endemism
  • All species.
  • West Atlantic Endemic
  • Greater Caribbean endemic
Regional Endemism
  • GC endemic
  • Continent only
  • Gulf of Mexico endemic
  • All species..
  • Continent
  • Resident
Climate Zone
  • Tropical (10-23N, Nicaragua / Cuba)
IUCN Red List
  • Listed
  • Least concern
  • Not listed
Depth Range Max
  • 10
Depth Range Min
  • 0
Length Max
  • 30