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Sciades proops (Valenciennes, 1840)

Image contributors to this species:

Danny Blundell (5)

ScotCat Sources:


Other Sources:

Fishbase  Google Search  All Catfish Species Inventory  Catolog of Fishes

Relevant Information:

Dorsal spines (total): 1. The head is more or less flattened, the nostril nearly rounded, mouth inferior. There are three pairs of barbels, 1 pair of maxillary barbel and 2 pairs of mandibular barbels. Inhabits mainly brackish estuaries and lagoonsand also occurs in freshwaters. Found on shallow muddy bottoms and feeds on fish and shrimps. Two annual cycles of slower growth occur during the dry seasons (March and August to November). Life span is three to four years. Sexually mature at 1.5 to 2 years of age. Reproduction takes place from November to April. Consumed as food and marketed fresh. The skull is sold throughout the world as a crucifix. The underside of the skull covering has a bony structure which can be seen when all the flesh and soft parts are removed. It then looks like a crucifix or like a painting of Christ crucified, and is surrounded by a Weberian bone in form of a halo. The upper rough part of the skull roof which is also visible on the living fish, looks like a Monk with a cowl and hood and his arms outstretched in prayer. Others see this as a Roman soldier with armour on his chest and the dorsal fin spine is the lance which he opened up Christs side.

Common Name:

Crucifix sea catfish


Bagrus proops, Sciadeichthys proops


Ariidae mblycipitidae


North and eastern South America: Caribbean Sea and northern coast of South America, Colombia to Brazil: Brazil, Colombia, French Guiana, Guyana, Puerto Rico, Suriname and Venezuela. Type locality: Guianas.


90.0cm. (36ins)


20-27°c (67-81°f )




ScotCat Article 53. The Crucifix Catfish.
Froese, R. and D. Pauly. Editors. 2009. FishBase. World Wide Web electronic publication.www.fishbase.org, version (10/2009).
Marceniuk, Alexandre P.; Menezes, Naércio A. (2007). "Systematics of the family Ariidae (Ostariophysi, Siluriformes), with a redefinition of the genera" Zootaxa 1416: 1–126.



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