Help Identify Yucatan Mexico Fish

by Colin
(Montreal, Canada)

Part of a recent whale shark tour off the northern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico included a snorkeling equipment check in relatively shallow water just offshore.

There was great fish density, some huge angelfish and a large number of the fish shown in the photograph. They were about two feet long, had two barbels and swam in a very shark like manner. The guide could only identify them as Caribbean Catfish. I've tried to find them in the Humann and Deloach Caribbean Fish ID Book with no success. Any ideas?


Comments for Help Identify Yucatan Mexico Fish

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Aug 10, 2017
Some Type of Sea Catfish
by: Nicole & Galen

Hi Colin, interesting one! Looks like it could be one of the Ariopsis genus of sea catfish. Images are not terribly easy to come by, but google the species names, Ariopsis felis and Ariopsis assimilis, to see if they look like your fish. It is possible it could be Bagre marinus, another sea catfish, but the fins look a little more ornate than the ones in your shot. There is a family of sea catfish called Ariidae that you could research if none of the these three are it.

Let us know if you figure it out specifically!

Sep 11, 2017
Yucatan Fish Identified
by: Colin

Hi guys, I think you nailed it with Ariopsis felis with the common name of Hardhead Catfish. I am surprised it wasn't in the Deloach books and also surprised we haven't seen them before since they to seem to be rated as common in many of the areas we've snorkeled.

Sep 11, 2017
by: Nicole & Galen

Thanks for letting us know which one it was Colin. Yes, that one was a bit more challenging to find. It is odd that it is not listed in the common identification sources. Maybe because it is in shallow waters and therefore rarely seen by divers? Or possibly it is a brackish fish that is not considered a reef fish?

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