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Fork-tailed Catfishes, Forktail Catfishes, Salmon-catfishes, Sea Catfishes

Compiler and date details

12 February 2013 - Dianne J. Bray, Ursula E. Smith, Douglass F. Hoese & Jennifer E. Gates

20 December 2006 - Douglass F. Hoese & Jennifer E. Gates


Members of the Ariidae, fork-tailed catfishes, are one of two siluriform families that is well represented in marine environments. Ariids are distributed in tropical and warm-temperate waters worldwide, primarily in coastal marine and estuarine habitats, although several species occur in fresh waters of Australia and New Guinea. Currently, 29 genera and about 150 species are recognised (Eschmeyer & Fong 2012). Eight genera and 17 described species are known from Australia. Prior to Kailola's (2004) study on relationships within the Ariidae, only two genera, Arius and Cinetodus, were recognised from Australia. Recent phylogenetic studies (Kailola 2004; Acero & Betancur-R. 2007; Marceniuk & Menezes 2007; Betancur-R. 2009; Marceniuk et al. 2012) show strong molecular and morphological support for two subfamilies (Ariinae and Galeichthyinae), although there remains little consensus on relationships within the family. All Australian species belong to the subfamily Ariinae. Hoese & Gates (2006) followed Kailola (2004) in placing six species in the genus Ariopsis. Recent studies have shown Ariopsis to be polyphyletic and it is considered a synonym of Sciades by Marceniuk & Menezes (2007) and Marceniuk et al. (2012).

Australian species range in size from 30 cm to 1.3 m, while some species from Asia reach a larger size. Merrick & Schmida (1984) summarised information on the biology of freshwater species. Most Australian ariid catfishes are thought to be omnivores.

Most ariids are treated in Allen (1982), Larson & Martin (1990), Kailola (1999, 2000, 2004) and Allen et al. (2002). Recent authors have variously placed Hexanematichthys leptaspis in Ariopsis (Kailola 2004; Hoese & Gates 2006), Neoarius (Ferraris 2007) and Sciades. Here we follow Marceniuk & Menezes (2007), Allen et al. (2008) and Marceniuk et al. (2012) in recognising Sciades leptaspis, and follow Marceniuk & Menezes (2007) in also placing Arius paucus Kailola 2000 in Sciades. The remaining four species previously placed in Ariopsis by Kailola (2004) are here placed in the genus Neoarius following Marceniuk & Menezes (2007), Ferraris (2007) and Marceniuk et al. (2012).


General References

Acero P.A & Betancur-R, R. 2007. Monophyly, affinities, and subfamilial clades of the sea catfishes (Siluriformes: Ariidae). Ichthyological Exploration of Freshwaters 18: 133-143

Allen, G.R. 1982. Inland Fishes of Western Australia. Perth : Western Australian Museum 86 pp. 6 figs 20 pls.

Allen, G.R., Midgley, S.H. & Allen, M. 2002. Field Guide to the Freshwater Fishes of Australia. Perth : Western Australian Museum 394 pp.

Allen, G.R., Storey, A.W. & Yarrao, M. 2008. Freshwater Fishes of the Fly River Papua New Guinea. Tabubil, Papua New Guinea : Ok Tedi Mining 216 pp. [59]

Betancur-R, R. 2009. Molecular phylogenetics and evolutionary history of ariid catfishes revisited: a comprehensive sampling. BMC Evolutionary Biology 9: 175

Eschmeyer, W.N. & Fong, J.D. 2012. Species of Fishes by family/subfamily. Catalog of Fishes. Online version updated 15 March 2012.

Ferraris, C.J. 2007. Checklist of catfishes, recent and fossil (Osteichthyes: Siluriformes), and catalogue of siluriform primary types. Zootaxa 1418: 1–628 [Date published 8 March 2007]

Hoese, D.F. & Gates, J.E. 2006. Ariidae. pp. 350-356 in Hoese, D.F., Bray, D.J., Paxton, J.R. & Allen, G.R. Fishes. In, Beesley, P.L. & Wells, A. (eds) Zoological Catalogue of Australia. Vol. 35. Volume 35 Australia : ABRS & CSIRO Publishing Parts 1-3, 2178 pp. [350]

Kailola, P.J. 1999. Family Ariidae. pp. 1827-1879 in Carpenter, K.E. & Niem, V.H. (eds). The Living Marine Resources of the Western Central Pacific. FAO Species Identification Guide for Fisheries Purposes. Rome : FAO Vol. 3 pp. 1397-2068.

Kailola, P.J. 2000. Six new species of fork-tailed catfishes (Pisces, Teleostei, Ariidae) from Australia and New Guinea. The Beagle, Records of the Museums and Art Galleries of the Northern Territory 16: 127-144

Kailola, P.J. 2004. A phylogenetic exploration of the catfish family Ariidae (Otophysi: Siluriformes). The Beagle, Records of the Museums and Art Galleries of the Northern Territory 20: 87-166

Larson, H.K. & Martin, K.C. 1990. Freshwater Fishes of the Northern Territory. Northern Territory Museum of Arts and Sciences Handbook Series Number 1. Darwin : Northern Territory Museum of Arts and Sciences 102 pp. 73 figs.

Marceniuk, A.P., Menezes, N.A. & Britto, M.R. 2012. Phylogenetic analysis of the family Ariidae (Ostariophysi: Siluriformes), with a hypothesis on the monophyly and relationships of genera. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 165: 534-669

Marceniuk, A.P. & Menezes, N.A. 2007. Systematics of the family Ariidae (Ostariophysi, Siluriformes), with a redefinition of the genera. Zootaxa 1416: 1-126 [Date published 8 March 2007]

Merrick, J.R. & Schmida, G.E. 1984. Australian Freshwater Fishes Biology and Management. Sydney : J.R. Merrick 409 pp. figs 280 col. figs.


History of changes

Note that this list may be incomplete for dates prior to September 2013.
Published As part of group Action Date Action Type Compiler(s)
12-Sep-2013 SILURIFORMES 09-Sep-2013 MODIFIED Dr Dianne Bray (NMV)
12-Feb-2010 (import)