Channel catfish are often found living in freshwater rivers, lakes, and streams throughout North America.

Physical Description

Channel catfish typically have grayish-blue sides with a black back and a white belly. Though rare in the wild, albino channel catfish can carry the recessive alleles resulting in a lack of pigmentation, known as albinism. Some domestic channel catfish have been bred to carry the recessive albino alleles, with these fish being popular in ornamental ponds. and many in the pet trade.

All channel catfish are born with functional gills but become completely aquatic at a few days old, so they rely on their swim bladder for buoyancy. They frequent moving water as juveniles before migrating to permanent bodies of water later in life and reach sexual maturity between 2 and 5 years of age. Channel catfish have a lifespan of 10 to 12 years.

Channel catfish have a more developed sense of smell than most other freshwater fish, and their whiskers are sensory organs that help them locate prey. They also use their barbels for catching prey but can be found with no jaws at all.

In areas where the water is too cold for them to survive, channel catfish lose the barbels; otherwise, they can be found with a single barbel near their mouth. Channel Catfish grow to a maximum length of around and are one of the most abundant fish in North America. They are primarily freshwater, but can also live in brackish water and saltwater.



There is no such thing as a normal size catfish! Channel catfishes are all different shapes and sizes; some weigh two to four pounds, and others are fifty if not hundreds of pounds. When fishing for channel cats, we're talking about catching giant fish.

The 1964 world record for channel catfish was an astonishing 26.3 kilograms (58lbs) weighing. Channel catfish are not in the same family as the common carp. They, along with their cousins, ramphilids, and Ictaluridae, are members of what is called the Order Siluriformes which includes about 40 different species of fish.

Native Habitat

There are so many catfish species in North America, that it's hard to pick just a few! The Channel Catfish is the most common type of this family.

Food/Eating Habits


Channel catfish are the top predators of murky waters. Able to smell and taste, they can find much more food in those types of waters than any other fish species. Scientists know that catfish have great taste and it's something they control throughout their bodies.

That is why there are so many taste receptors all over the creature's skin, but when it comes to their mouth - those are the four main whiskers. Scientists say that these are made of cartilage, which connects them to other parts of the body similar to how human hair and fingernails are attached.

The skin of the catfish is covered in taste receptors that allow it to feel a variety of different textures. They can even see with their whiskers and their eyes are located on the side of their head, but they only account for about 10% of the fish's body size.

The fish has a small mouth with four whiskers on each side. They are able to move their mouth sideways and downwards, but not upwards. The catfish is one of the largest fish in North America and has a lifespan of up to 40 years.

They also enjoy eating aquatic insects, algae, and plants that occur naturally in the pond.


Channel catfish have experienced a surge in popularity and are regarded as healthy, long-lived, and peaceful fish. So they can survive up to 15 years in freshwater environments.

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