Plotosus lineatus | Striped eel catfish | Cat mara coiréalach
Regulated invasive species of Union concern under the European Regulation on the prevention and management of the introduction and spread of invasive alien species [1143/2014].
First reported in the wild
Not present in Ireland or Northern Ireland
Invasive species - risk of High Impact
Introduction pathways - 1
Introduction pathways subclass - 1
Natural dispersal across borders of invasive aliens
Introduction pathways - 2
Introduction pathways subclass - 2
Natural dispersal across borders of invasive aliens
NAPRA Ireland risk assessed
Plotosus lineatus is a species of bony fish in the Plotosidae family that can grow to approximately 32 cm in length (Encyclopedia of Life, 2021). The juveniles of this species are highly distinctive with vibrant white and black stripes (Invasive Species Ireland, 2021). This fades to less vibrant shades of brown and black as they mature, making them less conspicuous (Invasive Species Ireland, 2021). Juveniles can be seen in large ball-shaped schools od up to 100 individuals, making them rather easy to identify (World Register of Marine Species, 2021). The adults are more solitary and will be found in smaller groups of about 20 individuals (World Register of Marine Species, 2021). Upon close inspection, four pairs of barbels can be seen on the mouth as well as venomous spines on the dorsal fins (World Register of Marine Species, 2021).
This carnivorous species feeds on crustaceans, molluscs, polychaetes and small fish (World Register of Marine Species, 2021).
Adult individuals are nocturnal and will typically position themselves under ledges or in caves during daylight hours (Galanidi and Zenetos, 2018).
Biodiversity - Although further study is required to quantify this, it is thought that at high densities, Plotosus lineatus may work to harm native populations of small fish, crustaceans, molluscs etc. through predation and competitive exclusion (Galanidi and Zenetos, 2018).
Ecosystem - If the population is large enough to support large feeding swarms of Plotosus lineatus, ecosystem functioning can be negatively impacted as these swarms may increase turbidity and alter sediment properties (Galanidi and Zenetos, 2018). This can lead to issues with nutrient cycling and mobilisation of eggs of various species (Galanidi and Zenetos, 2018).
Economic - Due to its venomous nature, Plotosus lineatus must be carefully handled when removing from fishing nets and sorting (Galanidi and Zenetos, 2018). This, combined with the high volumes of this species that can be caught by trawlers, results in losses of working time due workers needing to operate more carefully and injuries from the venom (Galanidi and Zenetos, 2018).
In its native range, Plotosus lineatus can be found living in various costal benthic (bottom of a waterbody e.g. lake beds) habitats such as coral reefs, seagrass beds, estuaries, tide pools and open coasts (Galanidi and Zenetos, 2018).
This species reproduces sexually and reproduction is oviparous and iteroparus (Encyclopedia of Life, 2021). Oviparous refers to a form of reproduction that involves the production of eggs that will then hatch to produce young. Iteroparus simply refers to a species that can undergo multiple reproductive events throughout its life rather than just one.
Mechanism of impact
Competition, Predation, Poisoning/Toxicity
Tropical Asia, Africa, Pacific Islands
No other Plotosus specie have been introduced outside of their native range and therefore Plotosus lineatus should not be misidentified if it was to become established in Ireland (Galanidi and Zenetos, 2018).
Plotosus lineatus has been recorded as a non-native species in Egypt, Israel, Lebanon, Syria, Turkey and Tunisia (Galanidi and Zenetos, 2018)
Plotosus lineatus is native to the Indo-Pacific and is distributed along the Red Sea and East Africa to Samoa, southern Japan and southern Korea, and the Ogasawara Islands, south to Australia and Lord Howe Island (Galanidi and Zenetos, 2018). It has been recorded entering freshwaters of eastern Africa and Madagascar (Galanidi and Zenetos, 2018).
Records submitted to Data Centre in 2023
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How can you help
Report any sightings of this species to the National Biodiversity Data Centre, including a photograph, if possible.
If you own one, do not allow it to reproduce or enter the natural environment, it is illegal to do so.
Avoid purchasing this species for any purpose.
CABI Invasive Species Compendium: https://www.cabi.org/isc/datasheet/116398
Encyclopaedia Of Life: https://eol.org/pages/46581859
Invasive Species Ireland: https://invasivespeciesireland.com/species-accounts/potential/marine/striped-eel-catfish
World Register of Marine Species: http://www.marinespecies.org/aphia.php?p=taxdetails&id=217659
Encyclopedia of Life, 2021. Striped catfish - Encyclopedia of Life. [online] Available at: <https://eol.org/pages/46581859> [Accessed 9 Jul. 2021].
European Commission, 2017. Invasive Alien Species of Union concern. [online] Luxembourg. Available at: <https://ec.europa.eu/environment/nature/pdf/IAS_brochure_species.pdf> [Accessed 25 Jun. 2021].
Galanidi, M., Turan, C., Ozturk, B. and Zenetos, A., 2019. Europen Union (EU) Risk Assessment of Plotosus lineatus (Thunberg, 1787); a summary and information update. Journal of the Black Sea/Mediterranean Environment, [online] pp.210–231. Available at: <https://www.researchgate.net/publication/334811880_Europen_Union_EU_Risk_Assessment_of_Plotosus_lineatus_Thunberg_1787_a_summary_and_information_update> [Accessed 9 Jul. 2021].
Galanidi, M. and Zenetos, A., 2018. Risk Assessment for Plotosus lineatus (Thunberg, 1787). [online] Available at: <https://circabc.europa.eu/faces/jsp/extension/wai/navigation/container.jsp?FormPrincipal:_idcl=FormPrincipal:_id1&FormPrincipal_SUBMIT=1&id=f009176e-eade-498a-a409-cb125f9eb709&javax.faces.ViewState=WmWkzCLDPt4wKaTFG6CSsmIFacN%2ByeNiXbTe%2BluQdPnJd7x%2BYP> [Accessed 9 Jul. 2021].
Invasive Species Ireland, 2021. Plotosus lineatus. [online] Available at: <https://invasivespeciesireland.com/species-accounts/potential/marine/striped-eel-catfish> [Accessed 9 Jul. 2021].
World Register of Marine Species, 2021. Plotosus lineatus (Thunberg, 1787). [online] Available at: <http://www.marinespecies.org/aphia.php?p=taxdetails&id=217659> [Accessed 9 Jul. 2021].