Channel Catfish

Aquaponics channel catfish in pond

Beautiful Channel Catfish

”Channel Catfish”, ”Ictalurus punctatus”, is North America’s most numerous catfish species and is a natural choice for raising in Aquaponic systems. It is the official fish of Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, and Tennessee, and is informally referred to as a “channel cat”. In the United States they are the most fished catfish species with approximately 8 million anglers targeting them per year. The popularity of channel catfish for food has contributed to the rapid growth of aquaculture of this species in the United States.

Distribution and habitat – Channel catfish are native to the Nearctic template of earth, being well distributed in lower Canada and the eastern and northern United States, as well as parts of northern Mexico. They have also been introduced into some waters of Czech Republic Romania and parts of Malaysia. They thrive in small and large rivers, reservoirs, natural lakes, and ponds. Channel “cats” are cavity nesters, meaning they lay their eggs in crevices, hollows, or debris, in order to protect them from swift currents. In Canada, the species is largely, though not exclusively, limited to the Great Lakes watershed from Lake Nipigon southward.

Characteristics – Channel catfish possess very keen senses of smell and taste. At the pits of their nostrils (nares) are very sensitive odor sensing organs with a very high concentration of olfactory receptors. In channel catfish these organs are sensitive enough to detect several amino acids at about 1 part per 100 million in water. In addition, channel catfish have taste buds distributed over the surface of their entire body. These buds are especially concentrated on the channel catfish’s four pair of barbels (whiskers) surrounding the mouth — about 25 buds per square millimeter. This combination of exceptional senses of taste and smell allows the channel catfish to find food in dark, stained, or muddy water with relative ease.

Aquaponics channel catfish in pond

They have a very large mouth & are known to eat their own species

Length and weight – A member of the ”Ictalurus” genus of American catfishes, channel catfish have a top-end size of approximately 40-50 pounds. The world record channel catfish weighed 58 pounds and was taken from the Santee-Cooper Reservoir in South Carolina, July 7, 1964. Realistically, a channel catfish over 20 pounds is a spectacular specimen, and most catfish anglers view a 10 pound fish as a very admirable catch. Furthermore the average size channel catfish an angler could expect to find in most waterways would be between 2 and 4 pounds.

Channel catfish will often coexist in the same waterways with its close relatives, blue catfish, which are somewhat less common but tend to grow a lot larger (with several specimen confirmed to weight above the 100 lb. mark). As channel catfish grow longer, they increase in weight. The relationship between length and weight is not linear. The relationship between total length (L, in inches) and total weight (W, in pounds) for nearly all species of fish can be expressed by an equation of the form:


. Invariably, b is close to 3.0 for all species, and c is a constant that varies among species. For channel catfish, b = 3.294, somewhat higher than for many common species, and c = 0.000148. The relationship described in this section suggests that a 20-inch channel catfish will weigh close to 3 pounds, and a 25-inch channel catfish will weigh about 6 pounds.

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