The walking catfish has an appearance that is elongated, gray and scaleless. It has a large mouth, sharp pectoral spines with four pairs of barbels. While they are light grey in color, albinos do occur. Walking catfish are known for their ability to breathe air and make short overland movements by pulling themselves along with their pectoral fins. Their movements resemble infantry-men scooting under barbed wire.
Most often, you will encounter them in the Everglades and associated canals, they have been found throughout central and south Florida. First reported in 1967 in Broward County, then later in Hillsborough County, the two populations have joined. Since 1970, their abundance has decreased. They are only native to southeast Asia.
They prefer highly vegetated shallow water bodies. During the dry season, they sometimes dominate small Everglades pools. In large lakes and canals, they are much less abundant. A walking catfish can live and thrive in water with little to no oxygen. They adapt well to transient water bodies with muddy bottoms. Occasionally one will find them in road storm drainage systems, emerging during flooding events.
Little is known about their spawning habitats, but reports have indicated they spawn early during the rainy season. Nests are built in submerged vegetation and adhesive eggs lay on vegetation guarded by the males.
With an opportunistic feeding habit, they feed off of small fish, aquatic insects, plant material, and detritus as well as dead fish. they grow rapidly up to about 12 inches. Their maximum size is about 20 inches and three pounds.
In western societies, there are not commonly eaten.
Possession and transportation of live walking catfish are illegal without special state and federal permits. A walking catfish can only be possessed dead. If an angler wants to try eating one, they should immediately put them on ice.