Ariopsis canteri

Common Name

New Grenada Sea Catfish

Year Described

Marceniuk, Acero P, Cooke & Betancur-R, 2017


Dorsal Fin: I, 7
Pelvic Fin: 6
Anal Fin: 19-24
Pectoral Fin: 9-11
Caudal Fin: 13 branched (6 upper, 7 lower)
Gill Rakers: 18-22 on first arch, 17-20 on second arch, 36-44 total

The following characters taken together are characteristic of Ariopsis according to Marceniuk et al., 2017: posterior cranial fontanel absent, epiphyseal scar indistinct, temporal fossa absent or indistinct, subvertebral process weak, posterolateral uruhyal process subequal to distal end of bone, obvious fenestra surrounded by lateral ethmoid and frontal bone, gill rakers present on posterior margin of first two gill arches, and females possessing pads on the pelvic fins.

Body elongate and robust. Head long and relatively flattened, with a gradual frontal profile becoming steeper beyond the supraoccipital processes. Head plate obvious and bumpy. Cephalic shield long; rectangular or slightly narrower between eyes. Lateral processes on shield triangular and projecting laterally. Dorsomedial depression present. Fleshy portion of dorsomedial groove quite apparent and almost reaches eyes. Bony extension of dorsomedial groove present but quite weak compared to A. felis. Rear of process tapering to a crescent shaped and bumpy nuchal plate. Lateral margin of sphenotic straight. Pterotic margin convex. Snout rounded. Nostrils not connected by a furrow. Anterior nostril round with fleshy rim and posterior with a flap covering opening. Eye large and laterally placed. Three pairs of barbels; maxillary much longer than both mental barbels. Mouth subterminal with thick lips and arched jaw. A single arched patch of villiform teeth on maxillary. Palatine teeth with two rounded patches on each side of palate (one small and one large). Gill rakers present on all arches. Dorsal fin high with a strong serrated spine. Pectoral fins about the same size as dorsal fin with strong, weakly serrated spines. Pelvic and anal fins located far back on body. Adipose fin present over anal fin base. Caudal fin strongly forked. Body naked. Free vertebrae 45-47.


Top of head dark gray to blue-gray and color tapering over dorsal midline to caudal peduncle. Rest of flanks and belly sharply grading to whitish. Median fins uniformly gray. Pelvic and pectoral fins with dark gray bases grading to pale gray tips.


Maximum size to 46cm TL but usually less than 35cm TL.


A primarily estuarine and marine species, but rarely found into freshwater in Colombian rivers.


Known from the Caribbean coast of Colombia from the base of the Panama Isthmus to the border of Venezuela.


Marceniuk, A.P., Acero, A.P., Cooke, R.G., & Betancur-R, R. 2017. Taxonomic revision of the New World genus Ariopsis Gill (Siluriformes: Ariidae), with description of two new species. Zootaxa.

Other Notes

This species has been misidentified widely in the literature as Ariopsis bonillai (Miles, 1945) (=Galeichthys), which is a different freshwater catfish now classified in the genus Notarius.

The closest W. Atlantic relative is Ariopsis assimilis, which lives off Belize and Honduras and has lower and mostly non-overlapping anal fin and gill raker counts. The medial head groove of A. canteri is much more obvious. This species is phylogenetically sister to the E. Pacific A. seemanni.