Armored Catfish Invading South Florida Lakes — Hard to Kill and Hard to Deal With

These catfish more closely resemble a dinosaur.

Everyone loves catfish right.  It’s smooth and has great meat for cooking.  However, a species of catfish that is taking over South Florida lakes is giving the common catfish a bad reputation.  The species Loricariidae is commonly referred to as the “armored catfish.”  They are implants from South America that are surviving and thriving in South Florida waters, but they are not nearly as welcome as their normal catfish cousins.  The name is fitting enough; they are very similar to a common catfish but have fins that are like spikes and rough scales on their backs.  So, how did these survivors make their way into Floridian lakes?  Well, the armored catfish is a popular species to purchase for aquariums because they have a penchant for algae and help keep fish tanks clean.  So, it’s easy to see how they made the jump from local aquariums to the local lakes.  All it takes is just a handful released into the wild in a hospitable environment to have a full-fledged invasion on your hands.  And that is what is happening in Florida.

So what’s the big deal?  Well, the armored catfish cause a variety of problems.  First of all, they like to dig holes in the sand along the shoreline.  The holes may seem harmless, but it makes it very difficult for humans to walk around the edge of the water.  That’s only a minor annoyance.  It actually is presenting a danger for some people who like to catch fish with their bare hands.  Yes, there are people that like to do this and it even has a name:  noodling.  Needless to say, setting your hands on an armored catfish can be a painful experience.
The real problem is environmental more than a safety issue.  The fish have become so plentiful that they are actually eroding shorelines, some up to 10 feet.  The same characteristics that make the fish so handy for fish tanks is a major blow to the rest of the lake ecosystem.  To make it worse, they are very difficult to catch.  It has been reported that they rarely can be caught by conventional baiting of the hook.  They have to be caught in nets or speared.  They simply cannot be caught fast enough to control the armored fish population.  It is thought that there are millions of these guys wandering in South Florida, and they are at the top of the food chain for the lakes.  That means nothing is pursuing these survivors except humans.

Marine biologists predict the problem will only get worse as time passes.  Unfortunately the only solution is for residents around lakes to pool together their resources and have professionals come in and take out the fish.  This can be quite costly, in some cases topping $100,000.

11 thoughts on “Armored Catfish Invading South Florida Lakes — Hard to Kill and Hard to Deal With”

  1. Hi i actually caught 2 armored catfish today with a hook n worm. I didnt know what they were so i threw them back.. now i know not to throw them back

    1. That’s pretty interesting. You must be a pretty skilled fishermen, as they say these guys are hard to catch with a normal hook.

    2. I caught two yesterday and cleaned them. I also caught one his morning. I stand over their nest and snag em.

  2. I caught one yesterday also, but i caught it with a piece of hotdog. I knew what it was so i threw it up on shore

  3. I caught one of these in their holes with a pair of my fishing pliers. It’s my facebook profile picture haha. They are weird fish.

  4. I am in South Texas where armored catfish have just recently in the last year become a problem. I caught 11 in a cast net sizes 3-8 inches and had never seen them before even though I fish on a regular basis in virtually the same spot. I talked to Texas Parks and Wildlife who were not surprised to hear of my catch but said this was a large number to have popped up out of nowhere, they asked me to destroy them and said they were glad i notified them, they would also like anyone else who captures any to destroy them and contact them so they may record the sighting.

  5. I wonder what is going to be left when the human kill everything in this f**king planet…maybe we will farm humans for elite people due to lack of animal protein source…

  6. I work for the City of Gainesville Fl. on the ditch crew. I was cleaning one with water trapped in it the water was churning I got a fan rake and pulled through the water and pulled about 30 of them. I did not know what they were. I fished cat fish all my life never seen these until I looked it up. They are moving this way. Well they are already here.

  7. Ya, I saw one in a pipe under a bridge here is south florid. So I got my biggest hook and just snagged him. He is about 21 inches 10 pounds. I have ten pound test line on my pole, and he snapped it twice.

  8. I found that if you take chicken liver and a good hook at highlands hammock state park. On county road bridge you can catch all you want and then some

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