Channel Catfish

Channel Catfish Ictalurus punctatus

Type of Animal:

Streams, rivers, ponds, reservoirs, lakes, deep holes, deep water immediately downstream from sandbars, creeks, overhangs, swamps, marshes, hollow logs, bank holes, washouts under logs/large boulders, riprap bank cavities, shallow riffles, river riffles, channels/channel borders, deep slow current pools, brushpiles, prefer freshwater but utilize brackish areas as well & rarely saltwater, adults found in deeper water than younger animals

Native to US as far W as New Mexico/Colorado/E Wyoming/E Montana, extreme SE Saskatchewan/S & C Manitoba/S Ontario/S Quebec in Canada, & NE Mexico. Introduced/invasive in W US, much of Canada, Mexico, Central America, Caribbean, Venezuela, Brazil, Paraguay, Chile, Hawaii, French Polynesia, much of Europe, Russia, China, Japan, Uzbekistan, Turkey, Cyprus, Caucasus region, Indian subcontinent, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, Guam, Egypt, Ivory Coast, & Nigeria

Smooth-skinned catfish w/ bluish to greenish-gray to olive-brown to black body, olive fins, silvery-white belly, fairly large catfish, forked tail, curved anal fin, males become bluer during spawning sometimes being mistaken for blue catfish, males have broader heads while females have rounder heads, males often much larger than females

Fish, crustaceans, clams, snails, insects, insect larvae, algae, aquatic plants, seeds, dog food, nuts, grains, frogs, snakes, fruit, berries, small mammals, birds, zooplankton, phytoplankton, detritus, hot dogs, chicken liver, meat, nightcrawlers

Status in Wild:

Not applicable

Adults solitary or smaller schools of around 2-8 fish, younger animals often found in schools as large as 50-60 fish

Additional Info:

Young: Fry/Fingerling/Fiddler
Group: School
Male: 4-30 lbs
Female: 1-10 lbs
Young: 0.5 lb

3-10 days 

Life Span:
14-25 years

Male: 4.5 in
Female: 2 in

Body Length:
Male: 1.3-2 ft
Female: 1.083-1.3 ft
Young: 2.5 in

Tail Length:
Male: 4.5 in
Female: 4 in

Main predators of adults are alligators, bald eagles, muskellunge, flathead catfish (preys more on subadults/small adults), & chestnut lampreys (attaches to this species often). Birds, many fish, & some insects eat juveniles/fry.
Most numerous & most fished catfish species in US.
Introduced throughout world due to popularity/size/flavor. Unfortunately, they often become highly invasive. They decimate native animal populations, compete w/ many native fish, often have no predators to keep them in check (especially as adults), & are highly adaptable.
Whiskers/barbels around mouth used to locate food. Also have taste buds all over body.

Fun Fact(s):
For 1st 1-3 weeks of life, fry live in schools in close proximity to dad who guards them, sometimes even attacking people who get too close. Females sometimes care for eggs.
Official state fish of Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, & Tennessee.
Sharp spines on pectoral/dorsal fins can cause painful stings.

2 thoughts on “Channel Catfish


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