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Ictalurus punctatus  (Rafinesque, 1818)

Channel catfish
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Native range | All suitable habitat
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Ictalurus punctatus   AquaMaps   Data sources: GBIF OBIS
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Image of Ictalurus punctatus (Channel catfish)
Ictalurus punctatus
Picture by Lovshin, L.

Classification / Names Common names | Synonyms | Catalog of Fishes (gen., sp.) | ITIS | CoL | WoRMS | Cloffa

Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes) > Siluriformes (Catfish) > Ictaluridae (North American freshwater catfishes)
Etymology: Ictalurus: Greek, ichtys = fish + Greek, ailouros = cat (Ref. 45335);  punctatus: Ictalurus (Greek)=fish cat; punctatus (Latin)=spotted (referring to the dark spots on the body) (Ref. 79012).

Environment / Climate / Range Ecology

Freshwater; benthopelagic; pH range: 6.0 - 8.0; dH range: 4 - 30; depth range 15 - ? m (Ref. 9988).   Subtropical; 10°C - 32°C (Ref. 12741), preferred ?; 51°N - 27°N

Distribution Countries | FAO areas | Ecosystems | Occurrences | Point map | Introductions | Faunafri

North America: Central drainages of the United States to southern Canada and northern Mexico.

Length at first maturity / Size / Weight / Age

Maturity: Lm 36.0  range ? - ? cm
Max length : 132 cm TL male/unsexed; (Ref. 26550); common length : 57.0 cm SL male/unsexed; (Ref. 59043); max. published weight: 26.3 kg (Ref. 4699); max. reported age: 24 years (Ref. 59043)

Short description Morphology | Morphometrics

Usually bluish olive, gray or black on the upper part of the body, becoming white below; dark spots usually scattered along the sides; older males dark in color, the head looking very wide when seen from the top; long barbels surrounding the mouth and the tail deeply forked (Ref. 44091).

Biology     Glossary (e.g. epibenthic)

Adults inhabit rivers and streams and prefer clean, well oxygenated water (Ref. 9988), but also in ponds and reservoirs (Ref. 10294, 44091). They feed primarily on small fish, crustaceans (e.g. crayfish), clams and snails; also feed on aquatic insects and small mammals (Ref. 9669, 10294, 44091). Marketed fresh, smoked and frozen; eaten steamed, fried, broiled, boiled, microwaved and baked (Ref. 9988). Albino form common in the aquarium trade (Ref. 13371).

Life cycle and mating behavior Maturity | Reproduction | Spawning | Eggs | Fecundity | Larvae

Spawning happens, depending on latitude, during the months of April-July, with temperatures between 27-28°C. Females lay their egges on a hole dug on sandy grounds. Incubation lasts 3-8 days, and larval development between 12-16 days, depending on temperature. The pair builds a depression in the ground, which is guarded by the male (Ref. 1672). Channel catfish requires cool water and short day lengths during the winter months for proper egg development; an egg mass can contain up to 20,000 eggs (Ref. 44091). Sexual maturity is reached at 2-3 years.

Main reference Upload your references | References | Coordinator | Collaborators

Page, L.M. and B.M. Burr, 1991. A field guide to freshwater fishes of North America north of Mexico. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston. 432 p. (Ref. 5723)

IUCN Red List Status (Ref. 115185)

CITES (Ref. 94142)

Not Evaluated

Threat to humans

  Potential pest (Ref. 13371)

Human uses

Fisheries: highly commercial; aquaculture: commercial; gamefish: yes; aquarium: commercial
FAO(Aquaculture: production, species profile; fisheries: production; publication : search) | FisheriesWiki | Sea Around Us

More information

Larval dynamics
Stamps, Coins
Swim. type
Gill area


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