Sunday, August 9, 2009

Wels Or European Catfish

The Wels is a large fish with a long, scaleless body, a very small dorsal and a rounded caudal fin, which touches the long anal fin. Its mouth is equipped with three pairs of barbels; the one located on the upper jaw is very long. The back is plain, either olive-green or blue-grey, but the sides often have a marble-like pattern. The wels lives close to the bottom in the deep waters of large rivers, reservoirs and lakes. It spawns from May to July in the shallows, where the female constructs a kind of nest.

After mating the male guards the spawn and later the fry. During the day the wels usually hides close to the bottom, but is active at night, when it seeks its food on the water surface. It feeds on various types of small fish, small mammals and water birds. It groin's, very quickly and in Europe achieves a length of about 2 in and a weight of over 50 kg, although in some regions, for example in the Danube basin, it grows still much larger. Young wels often live in schools and only become solitary when adult.

In Europe it can he found to the east of the upper reaches of the River Rhine, in the River Elbe and in rivers flowing into the Baltic Sea and in the tributaries of the Black and Caspian Seas; it is localized in Sweden, and has been introduced to England. Its relative, Silurus aristotelis, lives in Greece.

Maximum. size and weight: 3 In, 300 kg.

Identifying characteristics: Scaleless body with small dorsal fin; rounded caudal fin touches anal fin. Three pairs of barbels; pair on upper jaw very long. Mouth wide, head depressed from above.

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