Floridian Nature

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Florida Fish: Prohibited Aquatic Fish
Prohibited species may be imported and possessed for research, following approval of the research plan, including security measures to prevent escape; and by public aquaria, zoological parks, or public exhibitors with current accreditation by the American Zoo and Aquarium Association or the American Association of Museums. Prohibited species may not be kept as personal pets, with the exception of red-eared sliders  that were in possession prior to July 1, 2007. No exceptions are made for piranha or pirambeba; these species are banned and may not be possessed by anyone at anytime.

The electris eel is one of Florida's Prohibited Aquatic FishElectric Catfish (Malapterus electricus) Electric catfish are relatively fat looking, and round in cross-section, like an over-stuffed sausage.  They have three pairs of barbels and dark vertical markings on the caudal fin.  They have no dorsal fins other than an adipose fin located close to the tail, and are typically gray or brown in color. Electric catfish are native to Africa, especially the Nile and Congo river systems. Pairs breed in holes and crevices along the bank. A large predator with a relatively unique feeding and defense mechanism, electric catfish could potentially spawn in Florida and create both ecological and potentially even human safety concerns. Their electric organ is derived from pectoral muscle surrounding most of the body and may discharge 300-400 volts.  The entire family Malapteruridae is prohibited in Florida. known to reach at least ten years of age, the electric catfish may reach a length of four feet and weigh up to 45 pounds.

The African tigerfish is one of Florida's Prohibited Aquatic FishAfrican Tigerfish (Hydrocynus) These fish are silvery in color, with dark tiger-like stripes and a large mouth equipped with sharp conical canine teeth. The African Tigerfish gets its name from the horizontal black bands run along the entire body as much as from the fierce looking teeth it possesses that show even when the mouth is shut. The pelvic fins are arranged below the dorsal fin and the anal fin is far back below an adipose fin.  In most cases the caudal fin is deeply forked. African tigerfish are native to Africa, including the Nile and Congo river systems. The African Tigerfish is big, powerful, and well armed with big evil looking teeth. These teeth have made the African Tigerfish one of the most sought after exotic sportfish. These fish are relatives of the Piranha but grow to be much larger than Piranhas. The giant tigerfish can exceed 100 pounds and 4-feet in length. The African tigerfish is a large predator that could potentially spawn in Florida and create ecological problems.  The entire subfamily Hydrocyninae is prohibited.

The airbreathing catfish is one of Florida's Prohibited Aquatic FishAirbreathing Catfish (Clarias) These are elongated fishes with long dorsal and anal fins and four pairs of barbels.  An accessory organ (the suprabranchial arborescent organ) associated with the gill cavity allows the fish to "breathe" air.  Typical species have stout pectoral spines but lack a dorsal spine.  Color is typically gray to brown, but albinos are common in the aquarium industry. The entire family Clariidae is prohibited in Florida, except the walking catfish which is already established and hence is restricted. Initial concerns dealt with their somewhat unique ability to move over moist ground between water bodies and occupy a niche to which native species are not well adapted.  They are food fishes in their native range where their robust survival out of water allows them to be kept fresh for the market. Typically found in transient waters where other fishes do not thrive. the airbreathing catfish native area is southeast Asia, including,  Pakistan, eastern India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, and the Philippines.

The parasitic catfish is one of Florida's Prohibited Aquatic FishParasitic Catfish (Pygidium itatiayae) Parasitic catfish, also called the carnero or candiru fish, is a tiny parasitic catfish that inhabits the waters of South America. They can reach lengths of 1-2.5 inches with a width of 1/4 inch. Their diminutive size and nearly transparent body makes them very hard to locate.  The parasitic catfish has sharp bones with a series of spines located around the head used while feeding. The candiru is found only in the Amazon and Oranoco Rivers of South America. They do not like the sun and tend to bury themselves in the mud and sand of the river bottom underneath logs and rocks.  To find a fish, the parasitic catfish first tastes the water, trying to locate a water stream that is coming from the gills of a fish. Once such a stream is detected, the candiru follows the stream to its new host and inserts itself inside the gill flap. Spines around its head then pierce the scales of the fish and draws blood while anchoring the parasitic catfish in place. The candiru then feeds on the blood by using its mouth as a slurping apparatus and while rasping the long teeth on its top jaw.

The electric eel is one of Florida's Prohibited Aquatic FishElectric Eel (Lepomis punctatus) Not a true eel, the electric eel is a member of the family of naked knifefishes, that is nearly scaleless, has no dorsal fin and a very long anal fin that is contiguous with the caudal fin. The electric eel is brownish gray with an orange patch under the chin.  Pores used for electro-sensing prey are obvious on the face. The electric eel uses the battery-like electric organs in the posterior portion of the body to generate up to 600 volts.  Although a single fish is not normally lethal to an adult human, drowning can result, and several eels may attack the same prey.  Primarily nocturnal they also use their electricity generating abilities to locate prey. Growing to a length of eight feet or more the electric eel can weigh up to 45 pounds. It's native range is in South America, where the electric eel prefers slow moving water bodies 
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