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.

Pseudoplatystoma punctifer
Pseudoplatystoma punctifer
(Spotted Tiger Shovelnose Catfish)

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Pseudoplatystoma punctifer (Castelnau, 1855)

Common name: Spotted Tiger Shovelnose Catfish

Synonyms and Other Names: Tiger Shovelnose Catfish, Tiger Catfish; Pseudoplatystoma fasciatum (Linnaeus, 1766) from the Amazon River.

Identification: Pseudoplatystoma punctifer can be distinguished from all North American native catfishes by its depressed (flattened) head and distinctively black striped color pattern over a body that is two-thirds tan or brown colored. Pseudoplatystoma punctifer can be recognized from the closely related Pseudoplatystoma fasciatum by having fewer spots on the adipose and caudal fins; several discrete dark spots below the lateral line; and dark vertical bars that are straight and do not connect across the back with bars on the opposite side (Buitrago-Suárez and Burr 2007).

Size: Maximum recorded total length 140 cm (Buitrago-Suárez and Burr 2007).

Native Range: Amazon River in Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Perú, and Venezuela (Buitrago-Suárez and Burr 2007)

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 Pseudoplatystoma punctifer are found here.

StateFirst ObservedLast ObservedTotal HUCs with observations†HUCs with observations†
TX201620161San Jacinto

Table last updated 7/23/2024

† Populations may not be currently present.

Ecology: Pseudoplatystoma punctifer is found in large rivers, lakes, side channels, and flooded forests. This species is a nocturnal predator, feeding on fishes (loricariid catfishes, cichlids, and characoids) and crabs (Burgess 1989). 

Means of Introduction: Presumed introduction through an aquarium release.

Status: Failed

Impact of Introduction: Unknown, but Pseudoplatystoma punctifer are predatory and will eat fish, mussels, and invertebrates (Burgess 1989; Buitrago-Suárez and Burr 2007).

References: (click for full references)

Buitrago-Suárez, U. A. and B. M. Burr. 2007. Taxonomy of the catfish genus Pseudoplatystoma Bleeker (Siluriformes: Pimelodidae) with recognition of eight species. Zootaxa 1512:1-38.

Burgess, W.E. 1989. An atlas of freshwater and marine catfishes: a preliminary survey of the Siluriformes. T. F. H. Publications, Neptune City, FL.

FishBase Summary

Author: Daniel, W.M.

Revision Date: 9/28/2019

Peer Review Date: 7/17/2017

Citation Information:
Daniel, W.M., 2024, Pseudoplatystoma punctifer (Castelnau, 1855): U.S. Geological Survey, Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL, https://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/FactSheet.aspx?speciesID=3171, Revision Date: 9/28/2019, Peer Review Date: 7/17/2017, Access Date: 7/23/2024

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 [7/23/2024].

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