Today we look at a stalky fish with a big head, swollen lips and an electrifying personality. The Electric Catfish can be found throughout much of tropical Africa and in most parts of the Nile River. This particular fish has a history with humans dating as far back as the Ancient Egyptians, who used the electric properties of smaller fish to treat a variety of nervous diseases. Let’s learn a little more about their electric capabilities, shall we?
In For a Shock
As mentioned, the Electric Catfish is capable of generating an electric shock up to 400 volts, which they produce using a specialized gland cells along the side of their skin. The catfish is able to control these short, sharp shocks at will, which helps make their life easier. For instance, they use these electric impulses to stun their prey, making it much easier to catch and consume their delicious meals. As you might expect, they Electric Catfish can also use this deadly weapon to ensure an attacking predator doesn’t get too close.
As a side note: Although, the impulses from this catfish would hurt, they are not known for causing human fatalities but I wouldn’t want to be the first so I don’t recommend playing with a wild Electric Catfish.
Finally, they can use these impulses as a radar, which gives them a clear picture of their underwater home. This is a very important aspect since the eyesight of this fish species is poor. It is similar to echolocation that bats use but instead of high pitched frequencies, this Catfish uses electric impulses….pretty cool, eh?
The Electric Catfish is nocturnal coming out at night to hunt for tasty snacks. They are typically found in areas with slow moving water and love to hide amongst large rocks or sunken tree roots. So the next time you are swimming in the Nile River, be careful when you pass by that large tree stump, since what you find just may shock you. For the record, I don’t recommend swimming in the Nile River, since it probably isn’t the safest or cleanest river system to be splashing around in but I will leave that decision up to you.