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Tortuga Tex on Headwater Catfish - Text Version

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You know, the stars at night really are big and bright, deep in the heart of Texas!

Howdy, ya’ll. Tortuga Tex here. I’m on a quest to find Headwater catfish (Ictalurus lupus).

Headwater catfish are native to spring-fed headwater streams in the Pecos and Rio Grande basins. They once could be found in other central Texas rivers as well.

Headwater catfish like riffles and shallow runs where they find shelter and food among rocks and aquatic vegetation. They grow to be about 18 inches long.

Scientists believe there are fewer headwater catfish these days due to habitat loss and hybridization (cross-breeding) with channel catfish (Ictalurus punctatus).

They have less habitat in part because many springs have less flow or have gone dry! Pumping from aquifers is one reason spring flows have decreased.

Headwater catfish are one of many little-known critters in Texas waters, and one more reason to protect streams.

By Ken Saunders


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