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However, they are known to exceed 2.5 metres (8.2 ft) in length and 100 kilograms (220 lb) in weight.In July 2009, a catfish weighing 88 kilograms (194 lb) was caught in the River Ebro, Spain, by an 11-year-old British schoolgirl."In catfish, gustation plays a primary role in the orientation and location of food".Because their barbels and chemoreception are more important in detecting food, the eyes on catfish are generally small.As far as known for most catfish, features that are often characteristic of species such as mouth and fin positions, fin shapes, and barbel lengths show little difference between juveniles and adults.For many species, pigmentation pattern is also similar in juveniles and adults.

A flattened head allows for digging through the substrate as well as perhaps serving as a hydrofoil.The modification of the anal fin into an intromittent organ (in internal fertilizers) as well as accessory structures of the reproductive apparatus (in both internal and external fertilizers) have been described in species belonging to 11 different families.The wels catfish, Silurus glanis, and the much smaller related Aristotle's catfish are the only catfish indigenous to Europe: the former ranging throughout Europe, and the latter restricted to Greece.As a defense, these spines may be locked into place so that they stick outwards, which can inflict severe wounds.In members of the family Plotosidae, and of the genus Heteropneustes, this protein is so strong it may hospitalize humans who are unfortunate enough to receive a sting; in Plotosus lineatus, the stings may result in death.

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