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.

Sorubim sp.
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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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 Sorubim sp. are found here.

StateYear of earliest observationYear of last observationTotal HUCs with observations†HUCs with observations†

Table last updated 5/25/2018

† Populations may not be currently present.

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: 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: A closely related species, also found in the aquarium trade, Sorubimichthys planiceps is reported from California (http://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/FactSheet.asp?speciesID=2565).

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 Summary

Author: Schofield, P.J.

Revision Date: 5/9/2019

Peer Review Date: 2/9/2016

Citation Information:
Schofield, P.J., 2019, Sorubim sp. Cuvier, 1829: U.S. Geological Survey, Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL, https://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/FactSheet.aspx?speciesID=2578, Revision Date: 5/9/2019, Peer Review Date: 2/9/2016, Access Date: 5/27/2019

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. [2019]. Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database. Gainesville, Florida. Accessed [5/27/2019].

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