Marine Wildlife Encyclopedia
Striped Catfish Plotosus lineatus
The juveniles of this distinctive black-and-white striped catfish of the family Plotosidae stay together in dense, ball-shaped shoals and are often seen by divers over coral reefs. Adults live on their own or in small groups, but are well protected by a venomous, serrated spine in front of the first dorsal fin and each of the pectoral fins. A sting from an adult striped catfish can be dangerous to humans and is very occasionally fatal. These fish hunt at night, using four pairs of sensory barbels around the mouth to find worms, crustaceans, and mollusks hidden in the sand. During the day, they hide among rocks. Plotosids are the only catfish found in coral reefs. This species also ventures along open coasts and into estuaries. It spawns in the summer months. Male striped catfish build nests in shallow, rocky areas and guard the eggs for about ten days. The larvae are planktonic.