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Hardhead Catfish

(Arius felis)

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The hardhead catfish is unscaled, colored dirty gray with a white underside. Four barbels are found under the chin and two more at the corners of the mouth. This "hardhead" catfish has sharp, hard, venomous spines in its pectoral and dorsal fins. Its average weight is usually one pound or less, but may reach three pounds.

The hardhead feeds on a variety of shell fish such as blue crab and shrimp, as well as just about anything else that's in the water (including its own kind). It's also commonly refered to as the tourist fish, because most anyone fishing for it can get a take down.

Hardhead catfish occurr in many nearshore waters, brackish estuaries and river mouths where there are sand or mud bottoms. It is also occasionally found in fresh water. The hardhead tends to move from shallower to deeper waters in the winter months.

Females produces 15 to 60 mature eggs each season. Like other sea catfishes, the hardhead catfish is a mouth brooding species. After fertilization, the male holds the eggs in his mouth for one month until they hatch and may be carried an additional 2 to 4 weeks until they mature into juvenile fishes. During this period of time, the male will not feed. Hardheads spawn during May and September in shallow marine bays and lakes.