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Joined: Oct 1999
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Marty Offline OP
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Armored catfish, a particularly pesky species of burrowing fish, have been detected in Sylvester Village near Gallon Jug in the Orange Walk District. In the month of September the Fisheries Department received a report from the Manager of Gallon Jug Estate that a strange fish had been caught in the area. The armored catfish are a popular aquarium fish as they use their suckered mouths to clean algae from tanks. But that same behavior that is helpful in fish tanks actually erodes local shorelines up to 10 feet as the fish devastate aquatic plant life.  According to Wilfredo Pott from the Inland Fishing Unit at the Fisheries Department, a team has been sent in the area and is now investigating the situation.

Wilfredo Pott, Fisheries Department

"In the middle of October we did a verification trip out there so we were unable to capture those things. We did a sampling exhibition but we were unable to capture the fish, only two samples were caught by the villagers out there and it happened during a flood during the month of September and the waters were very high when these fishes were caught.  This fishes originates from the amazon in South America, it is used in the aquarium industry because it eats algae and it tends to clean the aquarium tanks.  This fish is very reproductive every time it lays its eggs it lays between 300 to 3500 and it tends to take care of it young so what would happen is that they would over populate the area they have invaded and cause trouble with the natives like competing with them got space and food too."

A management program will soon be sent in place to contain the increase of the plecos in Belize.

Wilfredo Pott, Fisheries Department

"We have been working on developing a management plan for controlling the invasion of this invasive species nous and we are working for program for Belize and the Audubon Society putting together an action plan to deal with this issue.  The initial action that we are taking is that we are inviting the public in the area to report any capture of this fish, we will also be embarking in an awareness campaign, we will be visiting the villages along the Rio Bravo and Rio Hondo and informing everyone what are the threats and what they should do if they capture the fish. We will also be implementing an incentive program to encourage people to bring the fish to the Fisheries Department and we will be giving then a small stipend."

According to Pott the fish can be consumed by the public.

Wilfredo Pott, Fisheries Department

"The fish is actually covered with a hard bony scale, like it name implies it has an armored around it and ones you manage to remove the armored it has fairly good meat to be consumed, actually what Mexicans, because they were affected, they had a huge problem with this specie, it manage to displace the tilapia, they had tilapia in a big lake and it was a very important fish there and it ended up destroying that fish there so this poses a treat to other fishes."

In 2003 the fish was detected in Guatemala and Nicaragua. The Fisheries Department strongly suspects that the fish found in the Rio Bravo migrated from Guatemala.


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Marty Offline OP
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Concerns raised over armored cat fish presence

Wildredo Pott

The Belize fish industry has had to deal with "pests" in the past from Tilapia some years ago to more recently the Lion Fish. But it seems to have another problem on its hand, a fresh water fish known as armored catfish. The type of fish is not carnivorous but it's territorial and can easily displace other species in freshwater bodies inland. Wilfrido Pott of the Inland Fishing Unit of the Fisheries Department tells us more.

Pott says the Fisheries Department has submitted proposals for funding of a management plan to contain the increase of the armored cat fish in Belize. Love News understands that fisheries authorities in Mexico are particularly interested in having this specie controlled, especially since the Rio Bravo is in their proximity. The fisheries department encourages Belizeans to consume the fish if they catch them as a form of controlling its population.


Armoured Catfish Captured In O/W 13 Years Ago

Last night we told you about the 2 armored catfish that were captured in Sylvester Village near Gallon Jug in the Orange Walk District in the month of September. The Fisheries Department visited the area but was unable to capture any more of the fish which is known to erode local shorelines up to 10 feet as it devastates aquatic plant life. These efficient feeders may disrupt the food sources of native fishes and hamper the natives' reproduction by destroying their eggs and their habit of burrowing into banks to spawn can impact adversely a stream's water quality by releasing substantial amounts of sediment that destabilize banks.

Presently the Fisheries Department is working on developing a management plan to control the invasion of the species and will even implement an incentive program to encourage people to bring in the fish if captured. But all indications are that the two armored catfish captured in the Gallon Jug area, are not the only ones that have been fished in north.

Carmelita Perez - Reporting

Thirteen years ago, in the month of April 1999 to be exact, Eusebio Urbina and his son were fishing along the New River when they came across a peculiar fish. Little did they know that it was an armored catfish.

Eusebio Urbina- Captured Armored Catfish

"Muchos anos y siempre nos ha gustado andar clavando de noche yo y mi hijo desde antes pero esa noche de Abril primer para amanecer segundo del 1999 tuvimos una sorpresa grande que atr�s de Loskot clavamos este pescado, realmente este pescado motivo en esos tiempos a la calle de otro benque porque realmente ni viejitos pod�an dar sobre de este pescado estaba muy raro unos dec�an que era Rey de las Vacas pero quedo as� y nosotros siempre atesor�bamos esto como un trofeo.  Hace dos anos mi nieta Debbie Urbina hizo research en el internet y salió de que esto es pescado del Per� que se llama el Armored Catfish entonces sacamos fotos de eso y si salió igualito, igualito y mas confirmado fue cuando vimos las noticias anoche."

Carmelita Perez - Reporter

"Cuando lo capturaron por primera ves como era, sacaba espinillas?"

Eusebio Urbina- Captured Armored Catfish

"Bueno, cuando salió fresco del agua si no estaba as�, todos estos espinillos que ven ac� estaba como soro spin, esto parec�a como un living sand paper y ac� a bajo pues la edad ya lo tiene as�, tenia una boquita como un barreno adentro, como que lo que comilla lo mol�a y lo met�a a dentro y sal�a como haciendo una bulla feo, como pitos."

Nominally omnivores, armored catfish feed mostly on algae and other plant material they gather by rooting along the bottom. This reduces habitat for some base-of-the-food-chain creatures as well as destroys eggs of native fish. But mostly, they simply out-compete and overwhelm native species.

The fish also do considerable damage to the streams through their habit of building their nests by burrowing into the banks of waterways. These burrows, most often built at or just below the water line and often found in heavy concentrations, weaken the banks, resulting in severe sloughing and erosion, which also can lead to siltation of the waterways and further damage to native fisheries.

At the time of their finding the Urbina's had no information on the armored catfish for them and for many other fishermen it was a rare and valuable species. So much so, that some fishermen were willing to pay up to $2,000 for the fish. But instead of selling the aquatic animal Urbina decided to preserve it.

Eusebio Urbina- Captured Armored Catfish

"En ese tiempo mi hermanito Doffy Urbina trabajaba en el morgue y �l nos trajo la idea de inyectarlo y entonces el tenia un amigo que estaba en shift y �l fue que nos dijo que lo pongamos en el freezer porque todav�a estaba vivo el otro d�a entonces el murió congelado y entonces fue que lo inyectaron y a la semana ya estaba duro, duro porque tiene todos sus intestinos adentro todo, todo, esta intactito.  Para que no pierda su identidad pues lo pintamos con barniz."

Armoured Catfish are found in freshwater habitats of Costa Rica, Panama and South America. They have also been sighted in Guatemala, Nicaragua and Mexico.

The fish is mainly nocturnal in nature and prefers to come out and search out their food from the river bottoms at night. Very limited information is available regarding the breeding techniques of the fish. Even if they are kept in aquarium they are hardly seen to be breeding. In wild a female fish lays around 250 eggs at a tine and deposits them on rock surface and the eggs are found to be hatching within a week.


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Marty Offline OP
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Continued concerns over the presence of armored catfish in Belize

The armored cat fish

Last week, the Fisheries department announced they have launched a campaign to capture and eliminate the armored cat fish from fresh water in Belize. According to the fisheries department, they became aware the fish was in Belize after three samples were caught hear Rio Bravo by some local fishermen of Orange Walk district. But it seems the fish has been present in a Belize fresh water body, the New River, for more than a decade. At least one has been caught by some fishermen of Trial Farm. We spoke with Usebio Urbina Sr. who said the catch happened behind Loskot Lumber Yard some thirteen years ago.

Urbina and his son have embalmed the fish and are exhibiting the prized fish to locals. They told us they have plans of donating it to the Banquitas House of Culture. He also told us they have not informed the Fisheries department so they can confirm if the embalmed fish is really an armored catch fish.


Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 84,400
Marty Offline OP
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Armoured Catfish Prowling Northern Belize's Riverine Territory

The armoured catfish first reared his very ugly head in the Rio Bravo Area of Belize back in November, 2012. Now, there are concerns that the invasive species of fish may be making deeper inroads into Belize. Today the Director of Fisheries outlined the threat:..

Beverly Wade, Fisheries Administrator
"The Armored Catfish for Devil Fish; there are several names for it, is really a species that is a very robust specie. In Northern Mexico it actually displaces Tilapia, so it has that potential in places like Florida. If you do some research, it's actually the cause of a lot of - it undermines the foundation of these beautiful houses that are along water ways because it digs a hole about this big, its burrow; it digs a hole into these banks. The burrows are about 3 meters long. It's very destructive to your natural environment and it's very robust. A specimen was caught last week by a fisherman in a little bit further down south in the Rio Hondo. It is an indication that it is here in that particular watershed and there is a need for us to now put in place an action to how to deal with it."

"Our local species are already under stress by the Tilapia invasion - it competes for them like the Bay Snook and these species that naturally nest - they create nest. These fish just literally marginalize them and push them out and displace them."

In Mexico, authorities are concerned that that the armoured catfish may undermine their Cenote system.

Channel 7

Concerns over catfish invasion

On a separate but perhaps as damning an issue environmentally is the threat that the armoured catfish or devilfish poses to Belize.� Wade says this free-roaming marine predator has the potential to cause problems even to the tilapia, which is responsible for the dwindling numbers of other local fish stocks.

Fisheries Administrator, Beverly Wade.


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