Are catfish poisonous?

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2016-08-24 21:31:39

Some are. But many will only cause injury with their hollow

barbed fins, which can deliver a stinging protein. But some

species, such as the striped eel catfish, can deliver a toxic mucus

that may be fatal to humans. The edible portions of catfish do not

contain any toxins.

A recent study suggests that about half of the 3000 known

species of catfish are poisonous. Only a few species are poisonous

enough to hurt humans (none in North America). The rest cause about

the same amount of discomfort as bee stings. National Geographic

also states that as the catfish grow, the venom glands shrink,

indicating the venom glands are meant for defense while the fish is


The venom comes from glands near the pectoral fins. When the

fins are grabbed the glands are ripped, releasing the venom.

The majority of catfish species have poisonous barbs located

within their dorsal (top) and lateral (side) fins. If stuck with

one of these, they can inject a toxin which causes a painful sting

which usually resolves on its own after time. However, like any

wound, it can get infected and it is advisable to clean and treat

it. Only a select few of catfish species (located in areas of

Southern Asia and India) have stings which could cause serious

complications, or very rarely, death.

The catfish toxin is protein-based (like bee stings) and thus is

treatable with meat tenderizer. Ammonia and vinegar will not be

very effective, as they are alkali (base) treatments, to be used

for acid-based toxins.

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