Thursday, November 17, 2011

Channel Catfish

Ictalurus punctatus
The Channel Catfish is the most common, and most frequently angled, Catfish in North America. Their range stretches from southern Canada to northern Mexico, and they'll live in just about any fresh body of water that provides them with adequate food and water temperature.

You can identify a Channel Catfish by taking a look at its tail. They have very deep forked tails when compared to other Catfish species. They also tend of have dark spots on the top side, though in older fish they may merge together.

Channel Catfish can grow to pretty large sizes over their 40 year lifespan, and the food that they eat changes with their size. As young fish they are more omnivorous, eating small critters and plant matter. But as they grow larger they are more and more carnivorous, eating fish, reptiles, and even birds! The Channel Catfish themselves are preyed on frequently when they are in the egg to juvenile phases, but full grown adults have far fewer predators.

Did you know that Channel Catfish are monogamous, breed only once a year, and are pretty good parents? Males and females pair up before the breeding season begins. When it comes time to mate they will swim with their tails wrapped around each other's heads, which stimulates spawning. Once the fertilized eggs are laid the male chases the female off, but she remains nearby to protect her new offspring from a distance. The male sticks around in a much closer proximity, and eventually helps to feed the juvenile fish when they hatch by thrashing in the mud to loosen food bits into the water. The young fish will be independent from their parents within two weeks. Quite the interesting fish!

IUCN Status : Not Listed
Location : North America
Size : Weight up to 50lbs (23kg)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Actinopterygii -- Order : Siluriformes
Family : Ictaluridae -- Genus : Ictalurus -- Species : I. punctatus

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