How many times is the word “catfish” included in country songs? For you “non-country listeners,” the answer is “a large number of times.” We tend to take this fish that is so familiar to us for granted in spite of the fact that we see restaurants that advertise it as their specialty. Anyone who has done much fishing has caught a catfish by accident, if nothing else. There are even catfish that are sold for use in household aquariums because they help keep the aquariums clean.
In the past year, there have been some detailed studies made of the catfish and what they eat and how they find it. Catfish are found in all kinds of lakes, ponds and rivers. Frequently the water in which they live is so muddy that they cannot use sight at all in locating food, and catfish feed at night so no vision is required for their securing food. While they will eat anything, catfish depend on organisms found at the bottom of lakes and rivers for their food. This includes worms, crayfish, and small, bottom-feeding fish.
In Science magazine (June 6, 2014) there is a detailed research report titled “Marine Teleost Locates Live Prey Through pH Sensing.” The new word used to describe this ability is “chemoreception.” Electrophysiological recordings from the barbel or whisker of the catfish have shown that the barbels respond to small changes in pH. The barbels are so sensitive that signals are received when the pH varies by as little as .1 on the pH scale. This sensitivity is enough to detect worms and other benthic forms of life — that is, creatures that live in the lowest level of water. As those creatures breathe they cause small changes in the pH of the water around them.
In experiments conducted on sea catfish, areas of an aquarium where worms had been present but were removed attracted all of the catfish in the aquarium. When a tube was inserted with water in it that had a slightly different pH than the water in the aquarium the catfish bit at the tube.
Catfish are an important part of the ecology of any body of water. Their ability to live and find food even in fouled water and in very muddy conditions shows the design that has been built into their creation. God's wisdom and planning can be seen everywhere around us. Even in the lowly catfish we can see the hand of God molding and shaping life to exist in abundance on this planet.
© npps48. Image from BigStockPhoto.com.