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Kidadl Team

AUGUST 06, 2021

15 Fin-tastic Facts About The Butter Catfish For Kids

How many fun butter catfish facts did you already know? Put your knowledge to the test with this article.

How often do you discover a fish that has its name named after a food item? Well, now you know one! The butter catfish goes by many names. Some of them are the silver barbel, the glass catfish, and various others. It is so secretive in nature that even pictures of this species are few and far between. However, if you are ever traveling in African waters, you might catch a glimpse of this wonderful fish! They are usually seen alone when in human company such as aquariums, but whatever behavior has been observed in the wild, these fish will be seen traveling in large groups called shoals. Some scientists accredit it to higher intelligence, but others argue it simply maybe because there are not enough of these fish in the same place in human captivity. Therefore, no groups are made. They also enjoy feeding on crustaceans and other small fish and creatures.

Do you want to read about more of the wondrous fish that travels in our waters? Then do not forget to check out stars like the hardhead catfish and Mekong giant catfish, and much more!

Butter Catfish Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a butter catfish?

The African butter catfish or glass catfish is a type of fish.

What class of animal does a butter catfish belong to?

Silver barbel or Schilbe mystus belong to the class of fish and family Schilbeidae.

How many butter catfishes are there in the world?

Although several reservoir surveys have classified it as a widespread but not abundant species, the population of African butter catfish (Schilbe mystus) is unclear.

Where does a butter catfish live?

This fish species, native to African river systems owning different common names, live in open waters.

What is a butter catfish's habitat?

This African lubangu or glass catfish can be habitat in rivers, ponds, lakes, and shallow marshes with standing or gradually moving open water with emergent or concealed vegetation. In addition, you can find it in rocky or sandy streams, as well as shallow floodplains.

Who do butter catfish live with?

This species of butterfish, also with the common names butter barbel, silver barbel, and butter catfish, is a solitary fish. The cory catfish (family: Allichthyidae) can live either solitary or in a group known as a shoal. In the wild, a significant number of fish congregate in large groups.

How long does a butter catfish live?

The longevity of African butter catfish, or Schilbe mystus, which mostly feed on crustaceans, is about six to seven years.

How do they reproduce?

African butter catfish (Schilbe mystus) are seasonal spawners that spawn in flooding and tributaries of river systems and streams during the rainy season of September and October. Butterfish (butter-fish) can spawn in a variety of places, laying eggs on vegetation. Schilbe mystus females are considerably larger than butter-fish males, and the age at which they reach sexual maturity varies by system. But females mature around 4.3-6.2 in (11-16 cm) and males between 4.7-6 in (12-15 cm). African butter catfish females produce eggs on plants and establish distinct breeding pairs.

What is their conservation status?

This African butter-fish species (Schilbe mystus) is the Least Concern listed by IUCN Red List.

Butter Catfish Fun Facts

What do butter catfish look like?

The African butter catfish (Schilbe mystus) has a flattened body with a permanent adipose fin. This butterfish or Lubangu can reach a maximum size of 16 in (40.6 cm) and a weight capacity of 8.8 oz (249.40 g). The snout and dorsal surface of fish are brownish in hue, while the bottom is silvery-white. Normally, the fins are colorless.

The nostrils in the front are nearer to one another than the nostrils in the back. The posterior denticulation of the pectoral fin spine is prominent. The nasal barbel extends towards the anterior eye margins but never outside of the hind eye edge. The mouth is a subterminal structure. On the lower extremity of the very first-gill arch, there are 45-64 branched anal-fins rays, including 9-14 gill rakers.

The body of a channel catfish (family: Ictaluridae) is tubular. Sharp spines cover their pectoral and dorsal fins. Because it is so hard, it can cause an excruciating injury; you must handle the fish with caution.

Butter-fish, African glass catfish, butter barbel, lubangu, silver catfish, mystus catfish, and silver barbel are some of the other common names for the African butter catfish, earlier known as Silurus mystus
*Please note that this is an image of a glass catfish, not a butter catfish. If you have an image of a butter catfish please let us know at [email protected]

How cute are they?

African butter catfish (family: Schilbeidae) with different common names aren't the cutest or most attractive fish globally.

How do they communicate?

The catfish is one of the more intelligent fish species, capable of creating various voices to communicate with its peers. The fish can make stridulation and hammering noises, categorized into two categories based on their activities. They can also determine the distance of a voice-based on the vibrations created in the water. Apart from hearing, catfish have a knack for locating food using their epidermis and the cells that allow them to smell objects from afar.

How big is a butter catfish?

The average length of this African species (family: Schilbeidae) is about 16 in (40.6 cm). The average length of spotted catfish species is  12 in (30.4 cm) belongs to the family Ariidae.

How fast can a butter catfish swim?

In short bursts, a catfish may reach speeds of up to 15 mph (24.1 kph). Yet, they spend the majority of their lives slithering across the ocean floor in search of food.

How much does a butter catfish weigh?

The average weight of these African butter catfish residing in the river systems of Africa is approximately 8.8 oz (249.4 g).

What are the male and female names of the species?

The name of male and female species of African butter catfish (butterfish) is undescribed. Males are called male African butter catfish, and females are called female African butter catfish (butterfish).

What would you call a baby butter catfish?

There is not any particular name for baby butter-fish (butterfish) species found in rivers and lakes.

What do they eat?

An omnivorous species, the African butter catfish (Schilbe mystus) feeds on insects, fish, crustaceans, snails, ostracods, seeds, roots, leaves, algae, diatoms, and fruits in surface waters and mid-water.  It has been observed that this butter barbel species also eats Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) and elephant snout (Hyperopisus bebe). At night or under dim light, these species of butterfish are most active.

Are they dangerous?

This African fish (Schilbe mystus) that feeds on crustaceans is not a dangerous species. The backbones of the blue catfish species (family name: Ictaluridae) contain minor venom. The quantity of toxin in this venom is so small that it is not normally damaging, making it non-dangerous.

Would they make a good pet?

This African species (family: Schilbeidae) is normally open for the aquarium trade in several parts of Africa.

Did you know...

Carl Linnaeus named this butter-fish Silurus mystus (family: Schilbeidae ) when he first discovered it in 1758.

This fish is a valuable commercial fish in several regions of Africa as a source of food. This fish is also available in the aquarium trade. However, droughts, water pollution, and water depletion are all dangers to the fish in northern Africa. Therefore, for northern, central, western, and northeastern Africa, the species is classified as Least Concern by the IUCN.

How many eggs do butter catfish lay?

A mature catfish can lay anywhere from 4,000-100,000 eggs, and reproductive males can fertilize up to nine spawns per cycle if the eggs get removed from the spawning site each time. But the estimated number of eggs that African butter catfish can lay is unexplored. As a result, this freshwater species is critically endangered in eastern Africa because of overfishing and commercialization, and it is classified as Vulnerable regionally.

Is butter catfish a bony fish?

Schilbe mystus (African butter catfish or silver barbel) is a bony fish species belonging to the schilbeid catfish family. So yes, the butter fish is indeed a bony fish.  

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these chamois facts and coho salmon facts for kids.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable butter catfish coloring pages.

*Please note that the main image is of a glass catfish, not a butter catfish. If you have an image of a butter catfish please let us know at [email protected]

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