Ictalurus punctatus, Channel catfish : fisheries, aquaculture, gamefish, aquarium

You can sponsor this page

Ictalurus punctatus (Rafinesque, 1818)

Channel catfish
Upload your photos and videos
Pictures | Google image
Image of Ictalurus punctatus (Channel catfish)
Ictalurus punctatus
Picture by Pauly, D.

Classification / Names Common names | Synonyms | Catalog of Fishes(genus, species) | ITIS | CoL | WoRMS | Cloffa

Teleostei (teleosts) > Siluriformes (Catfishes) > 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).
More on author: Rafinesque.

Environment: milieu / climate zone / depth range / distribution range Ecology

Freshwater; demersal; pH range: 6.0 - 8.0; dH range: 4 - 30; depth range 0 - 15 m (Ref. 9988). Subtropical; 10°C - 32°C (Ref. 12741); 55°N - 25°N, 110°W - 70°W (Ref. 86798)

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

North America: St. Lawrence-Great Lakes, Hudson Bay (Red River drainage), and Missouri-Mississippi river basins from southern Quebec to southern Manitoba and Montana south to Gulf. Possibly native on Atlantic and Gulf slopes from Susquehanna River to Neuse River, and from Savannah River to Lake Okeechobee, Florida, and west to northern Mexico and eastern New Mexico. Introduced throughout most of US.

Length at first maturity / Size / Weight / Age

Maturity: Lm 43.1, range 54 - 67.2 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)

Inhabits lakes and deep pools and runs over sand or rocks in small to large rivers (Ref. 86798). Adults occur in rivers and streams and prefer clean, well oxygenated water (Ref. 9988), but also in ponds and reservoirs (Ref. 10294, 44091). Recorded as having been or being farmed in rice fields (Ref. 119549). Feeds primarily on small fish, crustaceans (e.g. crayfish), clams and snails; also 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, 2011. A field guide to freshwater fishes of North America north of Mexico. Boston : Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 663p. (Ref. 86798)

IUCN Red List Status (Ref. 130435)

  Least Concern (LC) ; Date assessed: 20 February 2012


Not Evaluated

CMS (Ref. 116361)

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: landings; Publication: search | FishSource |

More information

Larval dynamics
Stamps, Coins Misc.
Swim. type
Gill area


Special reports

Download XML

Internet sources

Estimates based on models

Phylogenetic diversity index (Ref. 82804):  PD50 = 0.5010   [Uniqueness, from 0.5 = low to 2.0 = high].
Bayesian length-weight: a=0.00525 (0.00423 - 0.00651), b=3.13 (3.07 - 3.19), in cm total length, based on LWR estimates for this species (Ref. 93245).
Trophic level (Ref. 69278):  4.2   ±0.3 se; based on diet studies.
Resilience (Ref. 120179):  Low, minimum population doubling time 4.5 - 14 years (K=0.06; tmax=16).
Fishing Vulnerability (Ref. 59153):  High to very high vulnerability (73 of 100).
Price category (Ref. 80766):   Unknown.
Nutrients (Ref. 124155):  Calcium = 22.8 [11.8, 67.3] mg/100g; Iron = 0.813 [0.451, 1.504] mg/100g; Protein = 16.6 [15.0, 18.5] %; Omega3 = 0.562 [0.205, 1.585] g/100g; Selenium = 37.9 [14.7, 99.1] μg/100g; VitaminA = 22.8 [6.5, 76.8] μg/100g; Zinc = 0.765 [0.504, 1.122] mg/100g (wet weight); based on nutrient studies.