Aquaculture Feed and Fertilizer Resources Information System

Channel catfish

Levee channel catfish ponds

Hillside channel catfish pond

Channel catfish feeds

Mechanical harvesting of channel catfish

Aerating channel catfish ponds

Harvesting channel catfish

Harvesting channel catfish

Mechanical harvesting of channel catfish

Channel Catfish -Ictalurus punctatus

(Rafinesque, 1818) [Ictaluridae]

FAO official common names: Fr - Barbue de rivière; Es - Bagre de canal

Biological features:

The channel catfish (Ictalurus punctatus) is a member of the family Ictaluridae, which includes seven genera and at least 45 species. They are freshwater fish that inhabit rivers, streams, lakes and ponds in temperate environments within North America, including southern Canada and northern Mexico (Wellborn, 1988). They are bottom dwellers that prefer sand and gravel substrates. They also tolerate a wide range of environmental conditions. The optimum water temperature for growth is 24–30 oC, but the fish can survive at temperatures from just above freezing to about 38 oC. Growth is reduced at temperatures lower than 18 oC, while feeding activity stops at temperatures below about 10 oC. Adult channel catfish tolerate salinities from 0 to 11 ppt, however, they prefer salinities less than 4 ppt (Wellborn, 1988).

The body of the channel catfish is slender and scaleless, with a gently sloping dorsal profile anterior of the dorsal fin. It is white to silvery on the undersides, bluish olive, gray or black dorsally. Irregular dark spots that occur on the sides of the body of young fish disappear as the fish grows to about 0.5 kg (Wellborn, 1988). The mouth is large, subterminal and surrounded by four dorsal and four ventral barbels. Channel catfish have an adipose fin and soft-rayed fins; however, the pectoral and dorsal fins contain sharp spines. The anal fin is rounded and contains 24 to 30 rays. The tail is deeply forked, but fork depth may be reduced as the fish gets older, especially in large breeding males.