The Nonindigenous Occurrences section of the NAS species profiles has a new structure. The section is now dynamically updated from the NAS database to ensure that it contains the most current and accurate information. Occurrences are summarized in Table 1, alphabetically by state, with years of earliest and most recent observations, and the tally and names of drainages where the species was observed. The table contains hyperlinks to collections tables of specimens based on the states, years, and drainages selected. References to specimens that were not obtained through sighting reports and personal communications are found through the hyperlink in the Table 1 caption or through the individual specimens linked in the collections tables.

Sorubimichthys planiceps
Sorubimichthys planiceps
(firewood catfish)

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Sorubimichthys planiceps (Spix and Agassiz, 1829)

Common name: firewood catfish

Synonyms and Other Names: Shovelnose catfish.

Taxonomy: available through www.itis.govITIS logo

Identification: This large size leatherskin catfish can reach more than 1.5 m (4.9 ft). The body is extremely elongated and round, with a flat head and round snout proportionally larger than the rest of the body – adorned with long barbels. Coloration is dark gray, which a long narrow clear section extending from the pectoral to the caudal fins. Typically the dorsal region and fins are covered with dark spots. Lundberg et al. (1989) reviewed the taxonomy of Sorubimichthys and identified two nominal species: S. spatula (from a single specimen that is now destroyed) and S. planiceps.

Size: to 150 cm SL

Native Range: Native to the Amazon and Orinoco River basins (Lundberg et al 1989).

Hydrologic Unit Codes (HUCs) Explained
Interactive maps: Point Distribution Maps

Nonindigenous Occurrences:

Table 1. States with nonindigenous occurrences, the earliest and latest observations in each state, and the tally and names of HUCs with observations†. Names and dates are hyperlinked to their relevant specimen records. The list of references for all nonindigenous occurrences of Sorubimichthys planiceps are found here.

StateFirst ObservedLast ObservedTotal HUCs with observations†HUCs with observations†
CA200420041San Francisco Bay

Table last updated 4/24/2024

† Populations may not be currently present.

Ecology: Mainly nocturnal. Feeds primarily on small fishes and invertebrates (Lundberg and Littmann 2003).

Means of Introduction: Aquarium release.

Status: Failed in California.

Impact of Introduction: The impacts of this species are currently unknown, as no studies have been done to determine how it has affected ecosystems in the invaded range. The absence of data does not equate to lack of effects. It does, however, mean that research is required to evaluate effects before conclusions can be made.

Remarks: Sorubimichthys planiceps has been listed as 'vulnerable to extinction' in the Orinoco River basin due to urbanization, development, and habitat destruction (Barletta et al. 2010).

References: (click for full references)

Barletta, M., A.J. Jaureguizar, C. Baigun, N.F. Fontoura, A.A. Agostinho, V.M.F. Almeida-Val, A.L. Val, R.A. Torres, L.F. Jimines-Segura, T. Giarrizzo, N.N. Fabré, V.S. Batista, C. Lasso, D.C. Taphorn, M.F. Costa, P.T. Chaves, J.P. Vieira, and M.F.M. Corrêa. 2010. Fish and aquatic habitat conservation in South America: a continental overview with emphasis on neotropical systems. Journal of Fish Biology 7:2118-2176.

Lundberg, J.G., and M.W. Littmann. 2003. Pimelodidae (Long-whiskered catfishes). 432-446. In: Reis, R.E., S.O. Kullander, and C.J. Ferraris, Jr. (eds.). Checklist of the freshwater fishes of South and Central America. EDIPUCRS, Porto Alegre, Brazil.

Lundberg, J.G., P. Nass, and F. Mago-Leccia. 1989. Pteroglanis manni Eigenmann and Pearson, a juvenile of Sorubimichthys planiceps (Agassiz), with a review of the nominal species of Sorubimichthys (Pisces: Pimelodidae). Copeia 1989:332-344.

FishBase Summary

Author: Neilson, M.E.

Revision Date: 5/8/2019

Peer Review Date: 7/5/2011

Citation Information:
Neilson, M.E., 2024, Sorubimichthys planiceps (Spix and Agassiz, 1829): U.S. Geological Survey, Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL, https://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/FactSheet.aspx?speciesID=2565, Revision Date: 5/8/2019, Peer Review Date: 7/5/2011, Access Date: 4/24/2024

This information is preliminary or provisional and is subject to revision. It is being provided to meet the need for timely best science. The information has not received final approval by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and is provided on the condition that neither the USGS nor the U.S. Government shall be held liable for any damages resulting from the authorized or unauthorized use of the information.


The data represented on this site vary in accuracy, scale, completeness, extent of coverage and origin. It is the user's responsibility to use these data consistent with their intended purpose and within stated limitations. We highly recommend reviewing metadata files prior to interpreting these data.

Citation information: U.S. Geological Survey. [2024]. Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database. Gainesville, Florida. Accessed [4/24/2024].

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For general information and questions about the database, contact Wesley Daniel. For problems and technical issues, contact Matthew Neilson.