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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.




Pterygoplichthys multiradiatus
Pterygoplichthys multiradiatus
(Orinoco Sailfin Catfish)
Fishes
Exotic
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Pterygoplichthys multiradiatus (Hancock, 1828)

Common name: Orinoco Sailfin Catfish

Taxonomy: available through www.itis.govITIS logo

Identification: Weber (1991, 1992) assigned sailfin catfishes to three genera and used the name Liposarcus multiradiatus for this species (a name used in some of the more recent literature). Armbruster (1997), after a detailed systematic review, placed the genus Liposarcus into the synonymy of Pterygoplichthys. Weber (1992) provided a key and distinguishing characteristics and photographs of specimens; Armbruster and Page (2006) present a revised key to species in the genus Pterygoplichthys (except P. ambrosettii). A few distinguishing characteristics also were given by Page and Burr (1991) and Page (1994).

Pterygoplichthys and other suckermouth armored catfishes (family Loricariidae) can be distinguished from native North American catfishes (Ictaluridae) by the presence of flexible bony plates (absent in ictalurids) and a ventral suctorial mouth (terminal in ictalurids). Pterygoplichthys is often confused with Hypostomus: these genera can be distinguished by the number of dorsal fin rays (7-8 in Hypostomus vs. 9-14 in Pterygoplichthys).

Size: 70 cm.

Native Range: Tropical America. Orinoco River basin in northern South America.

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Alaska auto-generated map
Alaska
Hawaii auto-generated map
Hawaii
Caribbean auto-generated map
Puerto Rico &
Virgin Islands
Guam auto-generated map
Guam Saipan
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 Pterygoplichthys multiradiatus are found here.

StateYear of earliest observationYear of last observationTotal HUCs with observations†HUCs with observations†
Florida1981201618Alafia; Big Cypress Swamp; Caloosahatchee; Cape Canaveral; Charlotte Harbor; Crystal-Pithlachascotee; Everglades; Florida Southeast Coast; Floridian; Kissimmee; Lake Okeechobee; Lower St. Johns; Oklawaha; Peace; Tampa Bay; Upper St. Johns; Vero Beach; Withlacoochee
Hawaii198620052Hawaii Region; Oahu
Puerto Rico200720073Cibuco-Guajataca; Eastern Puerto Rico; Southern Puerto Rico
Texas200020043Buffalo-San Jacinto; Lower San Antonio; Upper San Antonio

Table last updated 10/4/2018

† Populations may not be currently present.


Means of Introduction: This armored catfish has been collected in southeastern Florida since about 1971 (Courtenay et al. 1984). Its presence is most likely the result of escapes or releases from aquarium fish farms (Courtenay and Stauffer 1990). In Hawaii, introductions are presumably the result of aquarium releases that occurred in the 1980s, possibly as early as 1982 (Devick 1991).

Status: Established in Florida and Hawaii. Recent surveys in Florida indicate its range may be expanding (Nico, unpublished data).

Impact of Introduction: Largely unknown. In Hawaii, the thousands of nesting tunnels excavated by male Pterygoplichthys in reservoir and stream banks have contributed to siltation problems (Devick 1989). Because of their abundance in Hawaii, Pterygoplichthys and other armored catfishes have the potential to affect native stream species negatively through competition for food and space (Devick 1989). In Florida, this species occupies waters adjacent to Everglades National Park and is considered a threat to the park (Courtenay 1989).

Male members of the genus Pterygoplichthys dig out river banks to create burrows in which an attracted female will lay and guard her eggs. In large numbers, this burrowing behavior by Pterygoplichthys contributes to problems with siltation. In addition, the burrows potentially destabilize the banks, leading to an increased rate of erosion (Nico et al. 2009). Diurnal aggregations of Pterygoplichthys can potentially alter nutrient dynamics by creating biogeochemical hotspots through nitrogen and phosphorus excretion and remineralization (Capps and Flecker 2013).

Remarks: Many early reports of Hypostomus from south Florida, and some from the Tampa area, may have been based on misidentifications of Pterygoplichthys (Loftus and Kushlan 1987; Ludlow and Walsh 1991). Sailfin suckermouth catfishes (Pterygoplichthys spp.) are capable of surviving mesohaline conditions (up to 10 ppt) for extended periods of time, allowing for the use of estuarine and coastal areas for dispersal (Capps et al. 2011).

Voucher specimens: Florida (UF 35606 42194-6, 92163, 92147, 93556, 95725, 96381, 96401, 96414, 96436, 96450, 97857, 98940, 100976, 104460, 104736-7, 116471); Texas (TCWC 14081.06; TNHC 27478, 27554, 43734).

References: (click for full references)

Armbruster, J.W., and L.M. Page. 2006. Redescription of Pterygoplichthys punctatus and description of a new species of Pterygoplichthys (Siluriformes: Loricariidae). Neotropical Ichthyology 4(4):401-409. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S1679-62252006000400003.

Capps, K.A., and A.S. Flecker. 2013. Invasive fishes generate biogeochemical hotspots in a nutrient-limited system. PLoS ONE 8(1):e54093. http://www.plosone.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0054093.

Capps, K.A., L.G. Nico, M. Mendoza-Carranza, W. Arévlo-Frías, A.J. Ropicki, S.A. Heilpern, and R. Rodiles-Hernández. 2011. Salinity tolerance of non-native suckermouth armoured catfish (Loricariidae: Pterygoplichthys) in south-eastern Mexico: implications for invasion and dispersal. Aquatic Conservtion: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems 21:528-540.

Courtenay, W.R., Jr. 1989. Exotic fishes in the National Park System. Pages 237-252 in L. K. Thomas, editor. Proceedings of the 1986 conference on science in the national parks, volume 5. Management of exotic species in natural communities. U.S. National Park Service and George Wright Society, Washington, DC.

Courtenay, W.R., Jr., and J. R. Stauffer, Jr.. 1990. The introduced fish problem and the aquarium fish industry. Journal of the World Aquaculture Society 21(3):145-159.

Courtenay, W.R., Jr., D. A. Hensley, J. N. Taylor, and J. A. McCann. 1984. Distribution of exotic fishes in the continental United States. Pages 41-77 in W. R. Courtenay, Jr., and J. R. Stauffer, Jr., editors. Distribution, biology and management of exotic fishes. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, MD.

Devick, W.S. 1988. Disturbances and fluctuations in the Wahiawa Reservoir ecosystem. Project F-14-R-12, Job 4, Study I. Division of Aquatic Resources, Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources. 48 pp.

Devick, W.S. 1989. Disturbances and fluctuations in the Wahiawa Reservoir ecosystem. Project F-14-R-13, Job 4, Study I. Division of Aquatic Resources, Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources. 30 pp.

Devick, W.S. 1991. Patterns of introductions of aquatic organisms to Hawaiian freshwater habitats. Pages 189-213 in new directions in research, management and conservation of Hawaiian freshwater stream ecosystems. Proceedings of the 1990 symposium on freshwater stream biology and fisheries management, Division of Aquatic Resources, Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources.

Loftus, W.F., and J.A. Kushlan. 1987. Freshwater fishes of southern Florida. Bulletin of the Florida State Museum of Biological Science 31(4):255.

Ludlow, M.E., and S.J. Walsh. 1991. Occurrence of a South American armored catfish in the Hillsborough River, Florida. Florida Scientist 54(1):48-5.

Nico, L.G., H.L. Jelks, and T. Tuten. 2009. Non-Native Suckermouth Armored Catfishes in Florida: Description of Nest Burrows and Burrow Colonies with Assessment of Shoreline Conditions. Aquatic Nuisance Species Research Program Bulletin 9(1): 1-30.

Page, L.M. 1994. Identification of sailfin catfishes introduced to Florida. Florida Scientist 57(4):171-172.

Weber, C. 1992. Révision du genre Pterygoplichthys sensu lato (Pisces, Siluriformes, Loricariidae). Revue Francaise d'Aquariologie 19:1-36.

FishBase Summary

Author: Leo Nico, Matt Cannister, and Matt Neilson

Revision Date: 9/6/2013

Peer Review Date: 4/1/2016

Citation Information:
Leo Nico, Matt Cannister, and Matt Neilson, 2018, Pterygoplichthys multiradiatus (Hancock, 1828): U.S. Geological Survey, Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL, https://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/FactSheet.aspx?speciesID=768, Revision Date: 9/6/2013, Peer Review Date: 4/1/2016, Access Date: 12/13/2018

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. [2018]. Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database. Gainesville, Florida. Accessed [12/13/2018].

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