Sorubim sp.
(unidentified shovelnose catfish)
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Sorubim sp. Cuvier, 1829

Common name: unidentified shovelnose catfish

Taxonomy: available through www.itis.govITIS logo

Identification: The genus is currently recognized to have five species.  Sorubim spp. are distinguished from other members of the family Pimelodidae by the combination of a shovel-like, projecting upper jaw, laterally set eyes, and a distinct dark stripe running the entire length of the fish (Littmann et al. 2000, 2001b).  Sorubim spp. are similar in morphology and multiple species often occupy the same river basins.  Thus they have historically been somewhat difficult to discriminate.  Two species (S. elongatus, S. maniradii) have only recently been described (Littmann et al. 2001a, b).

Size: The largest species (Sorubim cuspicaudus) may grow to 80 cm SL.

Native Range: Tropical and subtropical South America, including the freshwater drainage basins of the Amazon, Essequibo, Magdalena, Maracaibo, Orinoco, Parana and Sinu rivers (Littmann et al. 2001a).

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Interactive maps: Point Distribution Maps

Nonindigenous Occurrences: A single specimen was taken in Caribou Lake, St. Louis County, Minnesota in July 2005 (D. Jensen, pers. comm.).

Ecology: Sorubim spp. are found throughout most of the freshwater drainage basins in tropical and subtropical South America (e.g., Amazon, Essequibo, Orinoco, Maracaibo, Magdalena, Paraná) in both still and flowing waters, generally associated with plant cover (Littmann et al. 2001a).  Shovelnose catfishes are important locally in subsistence and commercial fisheries; they are exported as aquarium fishes to the United States, Europe and Japan (Littmann et al. 2001a).

Means of Introduction: Aquarium release.

Status: Failed in Minnesota.

Impact of Introduction: Unknown.

Remarks: A closely related species, also found in the aquarium trade, Sorubimichthys planiceps is reported from California (

References: (click for full references)

Littmann, M. W., B. M. Burr and P. Nass.   2000.  Sorubim cuspicaudus, a new long-whiskered catfish from northwestern South America (Siluriformes: Pimelodidae).  Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington 113: 900-917.

Littmann, M. W., B. M. Burr and U. A. Buitrago-Suarez.  2001a.  A new cryptic species of Sorubim Cuvier (Siluriformes: Pimelodidae) from the upper and middle Amazon Basin.  Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia 151: 87-93.

Littmann, M. W., B. M. Burr, R. E. Schmidt and E. R. Isern.  2001b.  Sorubim elongatus, a new species of catfish (Siluriformes: Pimelodidae) from tropical South America syntopic with S. lima.  Ichthyological Explorations of Freshwaters 12: 1-16.

Other Resources:
FishBase Fact Sheet

Author: Schofield, P.J.

Revision Date: 6/7/2012

Citation Information:
Schofield, P.J., 2017, Sorubim sp. Cuvier, 1829: U.S. Geological Survey, Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL,, Revision Date: 6/7/2012, Access Date: 11/24/2017

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.

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Citation information: U.S. Geological Survey. [2017]. Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database. Gainesville, Florida. Accessed [11/24/2017].

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