Temporal range: Miocene–Recent
The shark catfish are a family, the Pangasiidae, of catfish found in fresh and brackish waters across southern Asia, from Pakistan to Borneo. Among the 30-odd members of this family is the plant-eating, endangered Mekong giant catfish Pangasianodon gigas, one of the largest known freshwater fish. Several species have recently become a booming aquaculture success in Vietnam's Mekong Delta.
Taxonomy and fossil record
Two fossil pangasiid species are described, Cetopangasius chaetobranchus and Pangasius indicus. However, the reported age of P. indicus from the Eocene is debatable. Therefore, the earliest reliable pangasiid fossil age is of C. chaetobranchus from the Miocene.
The dorsal fin is located far forward, close to the head, and is often high and triangular, thus inspiring the common name. The anal fin is somewhat lengthy, with 26–46 rays. There are usually two pairs of barbels, maxillary barbels and one pair of chin barbels, though in adult Mekong giant catfish there are only maxillary barbels. Pangasiids have a compressed body, and a small adipose fin.
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