Pterygoplichthys
Gill 1858
Family Loricariidae

Lateral view of two sailfin catfishes
The photo above shows an adult, top, and juvenile, bottom, sailfin catfish. These fish are now part of the Florida Museum ichthyology collection. Top: UF 238091 Bottom: UF 187063 Florida Museum photo by Zachary Randall

There are three species of sailfin catfish in Florida: the vermiculated sailfin catfish, the Orinoco sailfin catfish and the Amazon sailfin catfish. These species have a very large dorsal fins with one spine and between 10 and 14 branched rays. These three species readily hybridize and only differ in color pattern. Sailfin catfishes can be found in canals, creeks, small rivers, springs and lakes. They’re often found near vegetation and woody debris.

Bottom view of sailfin catfish ventral patterning
The photo above shows an Amazon sailfin catfish, left, and a vermiculated sailfin catfish, right. These fish are now part of the Florida Museum ichthyology collection. Left: UF 238091 Right: UF 238109 Florida Museum photo by Zachary Randall

Status & distribution

  • Status — Non-indigenous freshwater
  • Florida Distribution — Western and North Central and Peninsula drainages
  • River Drainages — Suwannee River, Withlacoochee River, Tampa Bay, the Myakka or Peace River, Lake Okeechobee, Caloosahatchee River, the Everglades, Indian River and the St. John’s River

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