The rare nekogigi catfish (Pseudobagrus ichikawai) is endemic to Japan (3), where it has been designated a national monument (4). The nekogigi has four pairs of well developed whisker like appendages called ‘barbels’ around its mouth and it is from these whiskers that catfish get their name (5). The dominant colouration on the back and sides of the nekogigi is yellow-brown with brown-grey patches, and the underside is predominantly white (6).
The nekogigi can be distinguished from other catfish by the numbers of rays and spines in its fins. Rays and spines give the fins structural support and may be soft and flexible, or spiny and stiff. The dorsal fin, on the back of the nekogigi, has 1 spiny ray and 6 to 7 soft rays and the anal fin has 0 spiny rays and 14 to 16 soft rays (2). The adipose fin is relatively large, and the tail fin is less forked compared to other Pseudobagrus species (7).
A scale less fish, the nekogigi protects itself by using a potent toxic protein, excreted from a hollow ray located on the dorsal or pectoral fin (8).
- Length: 10.8 cm (2)