Ictalurus punctatus

Channel Catfish

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Overview

Characteristics
Overview

The channel catfish has been called a swimming tongue. They have taste buds spread over their entire body with most around their gills and whiskers. Channel catfish are a popular recreational fish and are managed by state recreational fishing regulations through creel and size limits.

Scientific Name

Ictalurus punctatus
Common Name
Channel Catfish
graceful catfish
Kingdom

Location in Taxonomic Tree

Identification Numbers

TSN:

Characteristics

Characteristic category

Physical Characteristics

Characteristics
Size & Shape

The common length for channel catfish is 22 inches with the longest maximum reported length at 52 inches. 

Color & Pattern

Male channel catfish turn dark during spawning season and develop a thick pad on the top of their heads.

Characteristic category

Lifecycle

Characteristics
Reproduction

Female channel catfish require cool water and short day lengths during the winter months for proper egg development. Channel catfish spawn, depending on the latitude, during the months of April through July, when temperatures reach 72 to 73 degrees Fahrenheit.

The spawning catfish pair will dig a depression on the bottom of the river or stream, or find a suitable sub-surface cavity to deposit their eggs, which is then guarded by the male catfish. Egg incubation will take around seven days, depending on the water temperature. Channel catfish larvae will take 12 to 16 days to develop.

Geography

Characteristics
Range

The range of channel catfish extends from southern Canada into northern Mexico. They are found within the central drainages of the United States.

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