More invasive suckermouth armored catfish removed from San Marcos River

Suckermouth armored catfish are aquarium fish that destroy native wildlife

Plecostomus (Hypostomus plecostomus) and the vermiculated sailfin catfish (Pterygoplichthys disjunctivus) are both commonly referred to as armored catfish. (San Antonio River Authority)

SAN MARCOS, Texas – More invasive aquarium fish are being removed from the San Marcos River.

Texas Parks and Wildlife officials posted a video to Facebook on Thursday showing divers removing suckermouth armored catfish from the river.

Invasive fish

Look what's swimming in the San Marcos River 😲 Texas A&M University researchers are studying invasive suckermouth armored catfish to help us control this non-native species. Suckermouth catfish compete with native species, alter food webs, and cause habitat degradation through burrowing into banks Learn how we're fighting aquatic invaders at http://bit.ly/aquatic-invasives

Posted by Texas Parks and Wildlife on Tuesday, March 29, 2022

More than 400 of the same invasive species were removed from the river in January.

“Nationwide, it is estimated that the annual economic impact of invasive species exceeds $120 billion,” according to TPWD. “Aquatic invasive species negatively affect water infrastructure, water-front property values, boating and other water-based recreation, fish and wildlife, and related fishing and hunting opportunities.”

The fish “have been introduced to numerous water bodies in Texas through aquarium dumping — never dump your tank,” officials have previously stated.

“Dumping anything out of an aquarium — fish, animals, and plants — can have devastating consequences for Texas’ natural waterbodies,” according to TexasInvasives.org. “This is true for both freshwater and saltwater aquariums. Never dump them into a natural body of water or flush them down the toilet.”

The San Antonio River Authority (SARA) released a similar public service announcement last November saying armored catfish burrow into riverbanks, which leads to erosion of the banks and eventually bank collapse.

In December researchers from Texas A&M and Texas State universities fitted some of the armored catfish with experimental tags to study their movements in an effort to help make the removal of the species from local rivers more effective.

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About the Author:

Mary Claire Patton has been a journalist with KSAT 12 since 2015. She has reported on several high-profile stories during her career at KSAT and specializes in trending news and things to do around Texas and San Antonio.