Out of the variety of subjects we brushed over this week in class, I found the mention of invasive species to be the most intriguing by far. I remember hearing about certain invasive species like the Cuban Treefrog and Lionfish being prominent problems within many areas of the southeast United States. Being from Sarasota, FL, I decided to research what other species have become the most injurious to our ecosystem in recent times so I could be more aware of species that directly influence my area.
One species of fish I found that has been incredibly detrimental to most Florida ecosystems has been the Suckermouth Catfish. With their native range being located in South America, these catfish moved north due to their popularity within aquarium trade. Unfortunately, hazardous sea life like “killer algae” and this catfish are populating and destroying our native waters as a result of carelessness by owners or traders within the aquarium business. Even though the Suckermouth Catfish is a newer addition to the invasive species list, it has quickly begun to decimate waters with moderate salinity and low oxygen due to their hardiness and lack of predators in Florida waters. These fish have been overeating algae, small organisms, and even other fish eggs; in doing so, they are starving native species while simultaneously chipping away at their egg populations.In addition, the burrows that these cat fish build encourage erosion, which has proven to be fatal to many shorelines full of life. Not only that, but their spiky fins are dangerous for sea birds as well.
The presence of this catfish in the Florida ecosystem has lead me to question how many invasive species are a result of pure human interaction. Would there be so many invasive species if we weren’t so careless about moving fish around the planet? Or, would shifts within the biodiversity of the ecosystem occur naturally over a long period of time, permitting the ecosystem to adapt to these changes and intruders to develop?