Eel-like fishes and catfishes

Channel Catfish Channel Catfish
Ictalurus punctatus


To 3'11" (1.2 m); 58 lbs (26.3 kg). Slender; back blue-gray; sides light blue to silvery with scattered dark olive to black spots; belly white; fins olive to dusky. Head wide, flat to slightly rounded above; eyes large, above midline of head; upper jaw overhangs lower; 4 pairs of barbels. Adipose fin present; outer edge of anal fin rounded, 24-31 rays; caudal fin deeply forked.

Related Species

Headwater Catfish (I. lupus) has shorter pectoral fin spine; 22-27 anal fin rays; caudal fin less deeply forked; found in Pecos River drainage in S. and W. Texas, and E. New Mexico. Spotted Bullhead (I. serracanthus) has pale yellow spots, shorter anal fin, caudal fin shallowly notched; occurs in deep holes or large streams over firm bottom from SW. Georgia to N. central Florida.

Channel Catfish


Rivers and large creeks in slow to moderate current over sand, gravel, or rocks; ponds, lakes, reservoirs.


S. Quebec west to S. Alberta; central and E. central United States. Widely introduced.


The Channel Catfish, a very popular sport and food fish, is harvested commercially in some areas. It is the principal catfish reared in aquaculture..