Temporal range: Upper Jurassic–Recent[1]
Small-spotted catshark
(Scyliorhinus canicula)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Chondrichthyes
Subclass: Elasmobranchii
Order: Carcharhiniformes
Family: Scyliorhinidae
T. N. Gill, 1862

Catsharks are ground sharks of the family Scyliorhinidae, with over 150 known species. While they are generally known as catsharks, many species are commonly called dogfish.

Catsharks are found in temperate and tropical seas worldwide, ranging from very shallow intertidal waters to depths of 2,000 metres (6,600 ft) or more, depending on species.[1]



Catsharks may be distinguished by their elongated cat-like eyes and two small dorsal fins set far back. Most species are fairly small, growing no longer than 80 cm (31 in); a few, such as the nursehound (Scyliorhinus stellaris) can reach 1.6 m (5.2 ft) in length. Most of the species have a patterned appearance, ranging from stripes to patches to spots. They feed on invertebrates and smaller fish. Some species are aplacental viviparous, but most lay eggs in tough egg-cases with curly tendrils at each end, known as mermaid's purses.

The "swell sharks" of the genus Cephaloscyllium have the curious ability to fill their stomachs with water or air when threatened, increasing their girth by a factor of 2 or 3.


The American marbled catshark, Atelomycterus macleayi, is a favored type for home aquaria, because it rarely grows to more than 60 centimetres (2.0 ft) in length.[citation needed] The coral catshark, however, is the most common scyliorhinid in home aquaria.[2]


The family includes 17 genera and over 150 species,[1] making it the largest family of sharks.[2]



  • Scyliorhinidae
    • Scyliorhininae
    • Galeinae
      • Pentanchini
      • Galeini
        • Galeina
        • Halelaelurina
    • Atelomycterininae
    • Schroedericthyinae


  1. ^ a b c Froese, Rainer, and Daniel Pauly, eds. (2009). "Scyliorhinidae" in FishBase. January 2009 version.
  2. ^ a b Michael, Scott W. (March 2004), "Sharks at Home", Aquarium Fish Magazine: 20–29 

External links


White shark This article is part of Project Cartilaginous Fish Families, a All Birds project that aims to write comprehensive articles on each cartilaginous fish family, including made-up species.
120x120px This article is part of Project Cartilaginous Fish Taxonomy, a All Birds project that aims to write comprehensive articles on each cartilaginous fish taxon, including made-up taxons.
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