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Invasive 'Armored Catfish' Erodes Florida Shorelines, Creating Holes That Can Trip You

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"...we're going to end up with a sinkhole..."

As if people letting loose pet pythons that grow to be more than 10 feet long or wasn't bad enough, Southern Florida is seeing another invader that is wreaking havoc on its ecosystem according to reports.

The Sun Sentinel states the "armored catfish" -- named as such for its modified scales and spiky fins -- has no natural predators and is ruining lake shorelines as it is a burrower into the soft earth. Yahoo! News reported the fish makes 18-inch-deep holes to bury eggs at the water's edge, which have also been known to trip the unsuspecting walker, potentially giving them a twisted ankle as fall into the hole.

It is estimated about 10 feet of erosion at lakes in residential neighborhoods, generally maintained by homeowners associations, can be attributed to the invasive vermiculated sailfin catfish. The Sun Sentinel reports the thoughts of local homeowners and wildlife experts on the catfish:

"There are some people who get totally upset, and I can understand why," said Ralph LaPrairie, a fisheries biologist with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

There are some quick fixes, including installing wire mesh or spike rush, a dense aquatic plant. "But that's not 100 percent foolproof," LaPrairie warned.

There are more reasons than one to take on this fish fight.

"One, it's a safety issue. Two, it's a curb-appeal issue," said Chip Sollins, owner of Lake Erosion Restoration, a contractor in Boca Raton.

[...]

"If we do nothing, I think eventually we're going to end up with a sinkhole," said Susanne Ury, president of the Royal Lakes Homeowners Association.

Watch this local news report on the invader:

Not only is it hazardous for those taking a stroll but it is expected to take its toll on residents' wallets as well. In the small community of Royal Lakes, hiring a contractor would cost as much as $100,000. In larger areas, it can cost up to $1 million.

A state that is no stranger to invasive fish species is Maryland. For the second year, the state launched its contest for anglers to catch the non-native snakehead "fish from hell." Check out that story from the Blaze here.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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