Armored catfish, a particularly pesky species of burrowing fish, have been wreaking havoc in lakes in and around South Florida, and there are no signs that the armored catfish terror will be coming to an end any time soon.
The non-native, invasive breed of catfish have been eating the algae from the bottom of lakes in South Florida. While that may be seen as a good thing in, say, a tank, armored catfish gorging on algae in a lake contributes to erosion, causing the shoreline to recede by as much as 10 feet in some of the more armored-catfish-infested areas.
To make matters worse, armored catfish are also a nuisance to humans. The fish like to lay their eggs in an 18-inch-deep holes along the shores, which causes a number of humans to trip over them if they venture too close to the water.
Unfortunately, the solution to get rid of the armored catfish isn’t exactly straightforward. Normally, the solution would be to call on local anglers to fish them out of the lakes–maybe even offer a reward–but with armored catfish, that isn’t an option.
The armored catfish reportedly aren’t lured by hooks, and their rugged scales and sharp fins make them difficult to safely catch by hand, leaving locals to rely only on nets and spears to rid the lakes of the pesky burrowing fish. Couple that with the fact that armored catfish have no natural predator, and their numbers–reportedly in the millions–aren’t likely to go down anytime soon.
“There are some people who get totally upset, and I can understand why,” Ralph LaPrairie, a fisheries biologist with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, told the Sun-Sentinel.
The cost of ridding communities of armored catfish would also be too high–hiring a contractor to eradicate the armored catfish population in a community can cost as much as $100,000.