The state of Florida has become a real haven for invasive species over the years. To the point that if you're an angler, you just never know what you might hook while throwing a line in the Sunshine State. This state has snakeheads, armored catfish, pacu, and peacock bass just to name a few. At least one massive arapaima has been found dead in a Florida river.
However, perhaps none of these species are as strange as the clown knifefish. It's originally native to parts of Asia but they now have a breeding population established in at least two lakes, Osborne, and Ida.
YouTuber Ryan Myers does a quick stop by Ida Lake in this video where his group hooks into some native largemouth bass and invasive peacocks. However, the catch of the day is a massive clown knifefish that's a throwback to prehistoric times.
What a freak of a fish! This species is known to grow to lengths of about three feet, so the one Ryan caught here was a jumbo specimen. This is one odd-looking species. As Ryan noted, they do look sort of like a cross between a tarpon and an eel. Through that blade-like tail, we can see where the name originated.
No one is quite sure exactly how the clown knifefish first got to Florida. They first showed up in the 1990s. However, the fish are extremely popular in the aquarium trade. It seems likely the first ones in Florida waters were released aquarium pets. It's not uncommon for them to quickly outgrow their tank leaving a conundrum for aquarium owners. The University of Florida notes there was a die-off of these fish in 2011 during a cold winter, but there were enough survivors that the established population persists.
The good news is this fish is isolated to just a few locations for now. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission still knows little about the populations within the state. However, they believe spawning takes place in the spring. Whatever the case may be, we now want to add a trip to Ida Lake to our ever-growing fishing bucket list!
For more outdoor content from Travis Smola, be sure to follow him on Twitter and Instagram For original videos, check out his Geocaching and Outdoors with Travis YouTube channels.
READ MORE: THE 8 MOST PROBLEMATIC INVASIVE SPECIES IN FLORIDA RIGHT NOW