Cashmere the eel-tailed catfish
Also known as
freshwater catfish, dewfish, jewfish, tandan, eel-tail catfish
Suffering catfish! It's hard trying to live a peaceful life and raise a family here in Calamvale Creek in Brisbane, Australia.
An hour ago I had some crazy kids scaring the life out of me by throwing buckets in the water trying to catch me.
Now this photographer has turned up to get photos of me. What's next? Maybe the RSPCA will turn up and say my sharp dorsal spines injured one of the kids who were tormenting me.
At least the photographer is quiet and is leaving me alone.
Let me tell you something about eel-tailed catfish.
The first thing you'll notice is that I have prominent whiskers.
This doesn't mean I'm old, because these whiskers are actually called barbels, and they are extremely touch-sensitive.
They help me find food on the bottom of the creek, particularly when it is dark.
My other distinguishing feature is my tail, which is shaped like the tail of the long-finned eels in the creek.
What do I eat?
Eel-tailed catfish generally feed on the bottom of the creek bed, especially at night.
It's at night that my barbels really earn their keep, being super-sensitive for detecting food.
Freshwater catfish start breeding when they are about 5 years old.
We breed in late spring to mid-summer, when water temperature rises to 20 degrees C or a little higher, and prefer to make a nest in lots of gravel, sand, and small river pebbles rather than in mud.
The male builds a circular metre-wide nest in still or slow-moving water a week or two before spawning, but if the water drops to a level that exposes the nest we will move on and find somewhere else.
We are very protective of the nest. If you come near the nest while the male is protecting it he will eventually slash you. He extends his fins and spines and will rapidly slide against you and slash you with his spines as he darts past.
Our eggs take about a week to hatch, and we carefully guard them during this time so that predators don't get them.
When the young eel-tailed catfish are born they live among aquatic plants and under overhanging banks until they reach about 12 centimetres (5 inches). They form groups when young, but as they get older they live more solitary lives.
— Cashmere the eel-tailed catfish