Channel Catfish (Ictalurus punctatus)

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Channel Catfish
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I. punctatus
Organism Name: Ictalurus punctatus


The Channel Catfish can be a range of colors; blue, gray silver, or almost black. Their belly is usually white or off white. Most catfish are 15-25 inches long, but some adult catfish can be as long as a three year old (around 3 feet)! They weigh from 2 pounds to 10 pounds. A few very large, full grown catfish can reach 37 pounds! Channel catfish, like other catfish have no scales.


Channel Catfish can be found all over North and Central America, they live in large streams, rivers, and lakes. They prefer to live in deep waters, where there is a clean, rocky floor. Channel Catfish like to live in a body of freshwater that has a low or moderate current.

Predators and Prey

The Channel Catfish eats mostly aquatic insect larvae, crayfish, mollusks, and small fish. They also tend to feed on specific baits; cheese, chicken, dough balls, redworms, and small (cut) bait.

Channel Catfish don’t have many predators because they use their spines on their dorsal and pectoral fins to impale anything that tries to eat them. Their darker color helps them blend into their surroundings to hide from their few predators. The only animals capable of eating them are large fish
Channel Catfish Eggs
and some large birds. Channel Catfish eggs are should be an easy prey, but they are closely guarded by their parents, keeping them safe from predators.

Native or Invasive

The Channel Catfish is native to many parts of North and Central America: St. Lawrence-Great Lakes, Hudson Bay (Red River drainage), and Channel Catfish 2.pngMissouri-Mississippi River basins from southern Quebec to southern Manitoba and Montana south to Gulf. Possibly also native on Atlantic and Gulf Slopes from Susquehanna River to Neuse River, and from Savannah River to Lake Okeechobee, Floria, and west to northern Mexico and eastern New Mexico. It is also native to the border of New York and Vermont (Lake Champlain).

Form vs. Function

The Channel Catfish has spines on its dorsal (on the back) and pectoral fins (on the chest). Their pectoral fins hold a mild venom. They use these spines to stab and inject the venom into any unwanted predators.

They are also dark fish, which helps them camouflage with the bottom of the body of water they are living in (streams, rivers, and/or lakes).

Interesting Facts

The average lifespan of a wild channel catfish is 14 years, but in some cases Catfish can live up to 40 years old! In captivity, channel catfish usually live to 16. Catfish can lay from 3,000 to 50,000 eggs!


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