Ictalurus punctatus (channel catfish)
- Summary of Invasiveness
- Taxonomic Tree
- Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature
- Distribution Table
- History of Introduction and Spread
- Risk of Introduction
- Habitat List
- Biology and Ecology
- Natural Food Sources
- Latitude/Altitude Ranges
- Air Temperature
- Water Tolerances
- Natural enemies
- Notes on Natural Enemies
- Pathway Causes
- Pathway Vectors
- Impact Summary
- Economic Impact
- Environmental Impact
- Impact: Biodiversity
- Threatened Species
- Risk and Impact Factors
- Uses List
- Similarities to Other Species/Conditions
- Prevention and Control
- Gaps in Knowledge/Research Needs
- Links to Websites
- Distribution Maps
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PicturesTop of page
IdentityTop of page
Preferred Scientific Name
- Ictalurus punctatus (Rafinesque, 1818)
Preferred Common Name
- channel catfish
Other Scientific Names
- Ictalurus anguilla Hildebrand and Towers, 1928
- Ictalurus punctatus Hay, 1881
- Silurus punctatus Rafinesque, 1818
International Common Names
- English: catfish; catfish, channel; channel catfish; graceful catfish
- Spanish: azul; bagre de canal
- Russian: pyatnistyi
Local Common Names
- Belarus: somik kanalnyj
- Bulgaria: kanalen som
- Canada: gatfish
- Czech Republic: sumecek teckovany
- Denmark: kanalmalle; plettet dværgmalle
- Estonia: kanalisaga
- Finland: pilkkupiikkimonni
- France: barbue de rivière
- Germany: getüpfelter gabelwels
- Italy: pesce gatto punteggiato
- Lithuania: katzuve
- Mexico: azul; bagre de canal
- Romania: somn de canal; somn patat
- Sweden: prickig dvärgmal
- USA: blue cat; chucklehead cat; fiddler; Great Lakes catfish; lady cat; lake catfish; northern catfish; spotted cat; spotted catfish; white cat; willow cat
Summary of InvasivenessTop of page
I. punctatus, commonly known as the channel catfish, is a long slender fish with a native range extending from southern Canada and central USA to Mexico. Cultured worldwide, it has been introduced in more than 32 countries including Italy, Brazil, China, Japan and Russia for aquaculture and recreational fisheries. It has been introduced for aquaculture and recreational fisheries to over 32 countries, and widely throughout the USA, and has established itself in most waters to which it has been introduced. Its omnivorous, piscivorous and opportunistic feeding habit, high fecundity and tolerance to a range of extreme environmental conditions contribute to its success in establishing itself wherever it is introduced (Tucker and Hargreaves, 2004). Introduced channel catfish can exert a major negative effect on populations of native and endangered species, and commercial fisheries, through competition for food, habitat or through predation. A study by Olden and Poff (2005) describes the channel catfish as one of the fastest expanding invaders in the Lower Colorado River Basin, with Hawkins and Nesler (1991) identifying it as one of the most invasive in terms of its negative impacts on native fish communities some years earlier.
Taxonomic TreeTop of page
- Domain: Eukaryota
- Kingdom: Metazoa
- Phylum: Chordata
- Subphylum: Vertebrata
- Class: Actinopterygii
- Order: Siluriformes
- Family: Ictaluridae
- Genus: Ictalurus
- Species: Ictalurus punctatus
Notes on Taxonomy and NomenclatureTop of page
The channel catfish (Ictalurus punctatus) is a member of the family Ictaluridae in the order Siluriformes. Members of the order can be found in fresh and salt waters throughout the world. According to Wellborn (1988), there are at least 39 species of catfish in North America. Details of taxonomy and nomenclature can be found in the texts by Moyle (1976), Becker (1983), Jenkins and Burkhead (1994) and Etnier and Starnes (2001).
DescriptionTop of page
Detailed accounts of the physical features of I. punctatus can be found in the texts by Moyle (1976), Becker (1983) and Etnier and Starnes (2001). The adult channel catfish is blue, olive, grey or black on the upper part of its body, with dark spots along the flank and a white ventral surface. The colour appears to be dependent on the colour of the water it inhabits. In clear water it may appear almost black, while in muddy water it may be olive to a light yellowish-white. Young channel catfish have dark spots on their sides, the spots tending to fade or disappear in adults. Very large or very small individuals have fewer spots or lack them altogether. The channel catfish has a stout, cylindrical body with a broad flattened head and large terminal mouth, the upper jaw extending or protruding beyond the lower jaw. It has eight long and unequal barbels around its mouth, 4 are on the chin, 2 on the snout and one in both corners of the mouth. It has a scale-free slimy body, an adipose fin and a deeply forked tail, with the top of the fin being larger than the rounded bottom portion. This deeply forked tail distinguishes the channel catfish from other catfishes except the blue catfish (I. furcatus). The dorsal and pectoral fins have spines while the curved anal fin has 24-29 rays. Taste buds are present on the interior of the mouth and over the body. Males generally have larger heads and a darker coloured body than females.
DistributionTop of page
The channel catfish can live in fresh, salt and some brackish waters (Scott and Crossman, 1973). Its reported native distribution extends from the southern Canadian Prairie Provinces south to the Gulf States, west to the Rocky Mountains, and east to the Appalachian Mountains (Trautman, 1957; Miller, 1966; Scott and Crossman, 1973).
Although documented as being native to North America and southern Canada, according to Etnier and Starnes (2001), the exact native range of the channel catfish is uncertain. The northern boundary of its range on the Atlantic coastal plain is uncertain, with Page and Burr (1991) considering it possibly native to the Susquehanna River. According to Jenkins and Burkhead (1994) the channel catfish is native to the Florida peninsula, and introduced in Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina. In Canada, it is found in the St Lawrence River and its tributaries from southern Quebec through to Ontario including the Ottawa River and its tributaries, all the Great Lakes except Lake Superior, in southwestern Ontario and the southern part of Manitoba (Scott and Crossman, 1973). A listing of Ontario water bodies known to contain channel catfish as of January 2003 is given by Kerr (2003). Channel catfish have been widely introduced outside their native range and can today be found almost everywhere in the USA, in all the Pacific and Atlantic drainages (Scott and Crossman, 1973).
Imported to Europe in the nineteenth century, the channel catfish was eventually introduced to many countries around the world. It is now established in Belgium, Cyprus, France, Germany, the Netherlands, with established self-sustaining populations in Bulgaria, Hungary, Italy, Belarus, Russia, Spain and Romania. Katano et al. (2010) investigated the status of I. punctatus in Japan, which, introduced in 1971, is now widely distributed in the Abukuma, Tone and Yahagi River systems, as well as in Lake Shimokotori. Several specimens have also been caught in Lake Hinuma and the Miya and Seta Rivers in 2008 and 2009 (Katano et al., 2010).
There appears to be some disagreement regarding the presence of the channel catfish in Turkey; Cildir (2001) reported that its introduction into Lake Egirdir was unsuccessful. However, it is listed as being present in a report listing its use in aquaculture and stocking operations (Olenin et al., 2008) and in reservoir systems (Innal and Erk’akan, 2006; Innal, 2012).
It has been widely introduced for sport fishing throughout the USA; its large size and excellent taste make it a popular target of anglers. Its high fecundity, tolerance of extreme environmental conditions, and resistance to diseases, not only make this species suitable for commercial cultivation but also contributes to its success in establishing itself in areas where it has been introduced (Tucker and Hargreaves, 2004). Cultured worldwide today, it has been introduced in more than 32 countries including Italy, Brazil, China, Japan and Russia for aquaculture and recreational fisheries (Welcomme, 1988). It was introduced to Europe for the purpose of aquaculture in the 1990s (Elvira and Almodovar, 2001); in Italy for instance, the channel catfish was introduced to increase the source of aquatic food and as a resource for the sport fishing sector (Copp et al., 2005).
Distribution TableTop of page
The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.
|Continent/Country/Region||Distribution||Last Reported||Origin||First Reported||Invasive||Reference||Notes|
|Armenia||Present||Introduced||Gabrielyan , 2001; Froese and Pauly, 2004||Introduced from Russia for aquaculture; reported in Araks River, and within Ararat Valley|
|China||Present, few occurrences||Introduced||1984||Tan and Tong , 1989; Ma et al., 2003; Froese and Pauly, 2004||Introduced for aquaculture into Central China|
|India||Present||Introduced||Not invasive||Csavas , 1995; Molar and Walker, 1998; Singh and Lakra, 2011||Attempt by Hindustan Lever to culture using seed imported from the USA failed to produce desired results|
|-Tamil Nadu||Present||Introduced||Not invasive||Singh and Lakra, 2011||Limited occurrence|
|-West Bengal||Present||Introduced||Not invasive||Singh and Lakra, 2011||Limited occurrence|
|Indonesia||Present only in captivity/cultivation||Introduced||Not invasive||Eidman , 1989||Introduced for research|
|Japan||Widespread||Introduced||1971||Invasive||Chiba and et al. , 1989; Froese and Pauly, 2004; Matsuzaki et al., 2011||Tonegawa River system, Kasumigaura, Kitaura and Biwako Lakes, Shimane, Fukushima, Gifu and Aichi Prefectures|
|Korea, Republic of||Absent, formerly present||Introduced||1972||Not invasive||Welcomme, 1988; Welcomme, 1988; Froese and Pauly, 2004||Introduced for aquaculture, thought to be unsuccessful|
|Malaysia||Present only in captivity/cultivation||Introduced||Not invasive||Freshwater Fisheries Research Centre Malaysia, FFRC||Successful spawning reported in laboratory trials|
|Pakistan||Present only in captivity/cultivation||Introduced||2003||Not invasive||Rab et al., 2007||Trials to culture channel catfish conducted, no further reports on culture or presence in the wild|
|Philippines||Present only in captivity/cultivation||Introduced||1974||Not invasive||Juliano and et al. , 1989; Froese and Pauly, 2004||Introduced into reservoirs; no other natural populations known since|
|Taiwan||Absent, formerly present||Introduced||1974-1975||Not invasive||Liao and Lia , 1989; Froese and Pauly, 2004||Unpopular as cultured fish, not suited to local conditions|
|Thailand||Present only in captivity/cultivation||Introduced||1989||Not invasive||Csavas , 1995; Vidthayanon, 2005|
|Turkey||Localised||Introduced||1990s||FAO, 1997; Cildir, 2001; Olenin et al., 2008||Introduced into Lake Egirdir, thought to be unsuccessful|
|Uzbekistan||Present||Introduced||Not invasive||Salikhov and Kamilov, 1995||Established|
|Côte d'Ivoire||Present||Introduced||Not invasive||Welcomme, 1988|
|Egypt||Present||Introduced||1982||Not invasive||Welcomme, 1988|
|Nigeria||Present||Introduced||Welcomme, 1988; Froese and Pauly, 2004|
|Canada||Present||Native||Not invasive||Scott and Crossman, 1973; Froese and Pauly, 2004||Great Lakes|
|-Alberta||Present||Native||Not invasive||Contreras and Escalante , 1984|
|-Manitoba||Present||Native||Not invasive||Contreras and Escalante , 1984|
|-Ontario||Present||Native||Not invasive||Contreras and Escalante , 1984|
|-Quebec||Present||Native||Not invasive||Contreras and Escalante , 1984|
|-Saskatchewan||Present||Native||Not invasive||Contreras and Escalante , 1984|
|Mexico||Present||Contreras and Escalante , 1984; Lyons et al., 1998; Zambrano and Macias-Garcia, 2000; Froese and Pauly, 2004||Native to northern Mexico, introduced to southern parts for aquaculture|
|USA||Present||Native||Froese and Pauly, 2004|
|-Alabama||Present||Native||Lee et al., 1980; USGS, 2013|
|-Arizona||Present||Introduced||1903||Minckley , 1973; USGS, 2013|
|-Arkansas||Present||Wellborn , 1988; USGS, 2013|
|-California||Widespread||Introduced||1891, 1922||Smith , 1896; Dill and Cordone, 1997||1891 introductions were failures|
|-Colorado||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Lee et al., 1980; USGS, 2013|
|-Connecticut||Present||Introduced||Not invasive||Behnke and Wetzel , 1960; USGS, 2013|
|-Delaware||Present||Introduced||Lee and et al. , 1976; USGS, 2013|
|-District of Columbia||Present||Introduced||Lee et al., 1980; USGS, 2013|
|-Florida||Present||Native||Lee et al., 1980; USGS, 2013|
|-Georgia||Present||Introduced||Lee et al., 1980; USGS, 2013|
|-Hawaii||Present||Introduced||Brock , 1960; Froese and Pauly, 2004; USGS, 2013|
|-Idaho||Present||Introduced||1893, 1940||Linder , 1963; Wydoski and Whitney, 1979; USGS, 2013||Although 100 fish introduced into Boise River in 1893 by US Fish Commission, no evidence of reproduction from this stocking; introduced again in 1940 by Idaho Fish and Game Department to Little Wood River, Snake River at Burley and Snake River between Glenns Ferry and Weiser|
|-Illinois||Present||Native||Not invasive||Lee et al., 1980; USGS, 2013|
|-Indiana||Present||Native||Not invasive||Lee et al., 1980; USGS, 2013|
|-Iowa||Present||Native||Not invasive||Lee et al., 1980; USGS, 2013|
|-Kansas||Present||Introduced||Not invasive||Lee et al., 1980; USGS, 2013|
|-Kentucky||Present||Native||Not invasive||Lee et al., 1980; USGS, 2013|
|-Louisiana||Present||Native||Not invasive||Lee et al., 1980; USGS, 2013|
|-Maryland||Present||Introduced||Lee et al., 1980; USGS, 2013|
|-Massachusetts||Present||Introduced||Lee et al., 1980; USGS, 2013|
|-Michigan||Present||Native||Lee et al., 1980; USGS, 2013|
|-Mississippi||Present||Native||Lee et al., 1980; USGS, 2013|
|-Missouri||Present||Native||Lee et al., 1980; USGS, 2013|
|-Nebraska||Present||Native||Lee et al., 1980; USGS, 2013|
|-New Jersey||Present||Introduced||Morse , 1905; USGS, 2013|
|-New Mexico||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Lee et al., 1980; USGS, 2013|
|-New York||Present||Introduced||Lee et al., 1980; USGS, 2013|
|-North Carolina||Present||Introduced||Lee et al., 1980; USGS, 2013|
|-North Dakota||Present||Native||Lee and et al. , 1976; USGS, 2013|
|-Ohio||Present||Introduced||Lee et al., 1980; USGS, 2013|
|-Oklahoma||Present||Native||Lee et al., 1980; USGS, 2013|
|-Oregon||Present||Introduced||Smith , 1896; USGS, 2013|
|-Pennsylvania||Present||Introduced||Lee et al., 1980; USGS, 2013|
|-South Carolina||Present||Introduced||Lee et al., 1980; USGS, 2013|
|-South Dakota||Present||Native||Lee et al., 1980; USGS, 2013|
|-Tennessee||Present||Native||Lee et al., 1980; USGS, 2013|
|-Texas||Present||Introduced||Lee et al., 1980; USGS, 2013|
|-Utah||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Lee et al., 1980; USGS, 2013|
|-Virginia||Present||Introduced||Lee et al., 1980; USGS, 2013|
|-Washington||Present||Introduced||Smith , 1896; USGS, 2013|
|-West Virginia||Present||Introduced||Lee et al., 1980; USGS, 2013|
|-Wisconsin||Present||Introduced||Lee et al., 1980; USGS, 2013|
|-Wyoming||Present||Introduced||Lee et al., 1980; USGS, 2013|
Central America and Caribbean
|Costa Rica||Present only in captivity/cultivation||Introduced||Cam, 2011|
|Cuba||Present||Introduced||Welcomme, 1988; Sugunan, 1997; Froese and Pauly, 2004|
|Dominican Republic||Present||Introduced||1954-1955||Welcomme, 1988; Chakalall , 1993; Froese and Pauly, 2004|
|Honduras||Present||Introduced||1960s||Matamoros et al., 2009|
|Panama||Present||Introduced||Welcomme, 1988; Pérez et al., 2003; Froese and Pauly, 2004|
|Puerto Rico||Introduced||Froese and Pauly, 2004; Neal et al., 2009|
|Brazil||Present||Introduced||1980||Invasive||Welcomme, 1988; Piedras, 1990; Froese and Pauly, 2004||Assessed to have a high invasive potential - recommended for listing on a black list and its use in aquaculture prohibited|
|-Parana||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Pérez et al., 2003|
|Chile||Present||Introduced||1995||Contreras and Escalante , 1984; Pérez et al., 2003; Iriarte et al., 2005||Parral Region VIII|
|Paraguay||Present||Pérez et al., 2003|
|Belarus||Present||Introduced||Shumak and Mischenko, 1989; Olenin et al., 2008||Lake Beloe|
|Belgium||Present||Introduced||FAO, 1997; Froese and Pauly, 2004; Verreycken et al., 2009; DAISIE, 2013||Reported to be acclimatised to local conditions|
|Bulgaria||Present||Introduced||1975||Froese and Pauly, 2004; Uzunova and Zlatanova, 2007; Olenin et al., 2008; Hadjinikolova et al., 2010||Primarily in Ovcharitza and Kardzhali reservoirs|
|Cyprus||Present||Introduced||Welcomme, 1988; Dill, 1990; Froese and Pauly, 2004; Olenin et al., 2008||Introduced into lowland reservoirs|
|Czech Republic||Present||Introduced||Welcomme, 1988; Froese and Pauly, 2004; NOBANIS, 2005; Olenin et al., 2008||Reported to be established|
|Estonia||Present, few occurrences||Introduced||2002||NOBANIS, 2005||Not known to be established but reported to be potentially invasive|
|France||Present||Introduced||Holcík , 1991; Froese and Pauly, 2004; Cowx and Nunn, 2008|
|Germany||Present||Introduced||Cowx and Nunn, 2008|
|Greece||Present, few occurrences||Introduced||Not invasive||Economou et al., 2007||Reported but unconfirmed occurrence in the Evros and Arachthos basins|
|Hungary||Present||Introduced||Holcík , 1991; Olenin et al., 2008; Froese and Pauly, 2013|
|Italy||Localised||Introduced||Amori and et al. , 1993; Copp et al., 2005; Ligas, 2007; Cowx and Nunn, 2008||Northern and central Italy, in particular the Po, Arno and Ombrone River; reported to be established|
|Lithuania||Present, few occurrences||Introduced||1975||Not invasive||NOBANIS, 2005; Olenin et al., 2008||Not known to be established|
|Montenegro||Present||Introduced||Olenin et al., 2008|
|Netherlands||Present||Introduced||Cowx and Nunn, 2008|
|Romania||Present, few occurrences||Introduced||FAO, 1997; Olenin et al., 2008; DAISIE, 2013|
|Russian Federation||Present||Introduced||Holcík , 1991; Froese and Pauly, 2004; Olenin et al., 2008; DAISIE, 2013|
|Serbia||Present||Introduced||Olenin et al., 2008|
|Slovakia||Present||Introduced||Welcomme, 1988; Froese and Pauly, 2004; Olenin et al., 2008|
|Spain||Present||Introduced||Froese and Pauly, 2004; Cowx and Nunn, 2008|
|UK||Present||Introduced||Welcomme, 1988; Froese and Pauly, 2004; Maitland, 2004; DAISIE, 2013|
|Ukraine||Present, few occurrences||Introduced||DAISIE, 2013|
|Yugoslavia (former)||Present||Introduced||Not invasive||Welcomme, 1988|
|French Polynesia||Present||Introduced||Not invasive||Eldredge , 1994|
|Guam||Present||Introduced||1966||Not invasive||Welcomme, 1988; Eldredge , 1994|
History of Introduction and SpreadTop of page
The channel catfish was widely stocked by the United States Fish Commission (USFC) and state authorities as a food and sport fish. The USFC shipped stocks of channel catfish to more than twenty states in 1892 and 1893, including Maryland, Virginia, the District of Columbia, Wisconsin, Colorado and Idaho (Dill and Cordone, 1997). According to Page and Burr (1991), the channel catfish has now been introduced to much of the USA, including the Delaware River, San Francisco Bay, the Hudson River, the Columbia River and the Connecticut River. It has been introduced in at least 30 states and reported to be established in most (Page and Burr, 1991; Fuller et al., 1999). It has also been introduced to more than 32 countries throughout the world (Welcomme, 1988). Channel catfish have been introduced to Belgium, Cyprus, the former Czechoslovakia, France, Hungary, Italy, UK, former USSR and the former Yugoslavia (Holcik, 1991; Kosco et al., 2004). Wild populations have reportedly established themselves in the lower Ebro (Spain), River Oglio and Pavia Province (northern Italy) and in the lower Kuban and Don drainages (Russia) (Doadrio, 2002; Kottelat and Freyhof, 2007; Hermoso et al., 2008). Savini et al. (2010) identified the channel catfish as one of 27 aquatic alien fish species, first introduced to Europe in 1900 for the purpose of food production and sport fishing, with established feral populations in four countries not identified in the report. Although some reports (Innal and Erk’akan, 2006; Olenin et al., 2008) indicate its presence and a recent survey (Innal, 2012) of alien fish species in Turkey lists the channel catfish in reservoir systems, Cildir (2001) described attempts to introduce channel catfish into Turkish waters as being unsuccessful.
The channel catfish was introduced in Japan in 1971 for aquaculture and by the early 1990s was detected in natural water bodies around Lake Kasumigaura, an important commercial fishery. The population of I. punctatus which invaded the lake in the early 1980s increased slowly from 1995; a dramatic increase was then reported from 2000 (Hanzawa, 2004), with the increase in population ceasing in 2004, and I. punctatus abundance declining gradually ever since. Escapes from aquaculture facilities and illegal releases are believed to be responsible for the establishment of the channel catfish in the wild in Japan. I. punctatus has recently been documented to have invaded other water bodies that support Japanese commercial fisheries such as the River Tone, Lake Hinuma and Lake Biwa (Katano et al., 2010). Several specimens were caught in Lake Hinuma and the Miya and Seta Rivers in 2008 and 2009. In Japan, there are now restrictions on the import, transport and maintenance of channel catfish.
Channel catfish were introduced into central China to be cultured in cages in inland waters for food, and quickly became one of the most efficient aquaculture species (Tan and Tong, 1989; Ma et al., 2003).
Introduced for aquaculture in Brazil, the first report of the channel catfish was in the middle Paranapanema river by Zanata et al. (2010), believed to have been associated with the expansion of cage culture in the Chavantes Reservoir. Orsi and Agostinho (1999) noted that the first specimen of channel catfish collected in the lower Paranapanema River may have originated from fish farms sited along the river basin. According to several reports (Orsi and Agostinho, 1999; Vitule, 2009), Brazil seems to be highly vulnerable to invasion and successful spread of the channel catfish; it has been recommended for listing on a black list, and its use in aquaculture prohibited. Reports of occasional occurrences of I. punctatus in southern Brazilian inland waters have been documented since 2008 (Cruz et al., 2012).
In Honduras, it was introduced in the early 1960s for aquaculture by the United Fruit Company, with escapes into the Ulúa and Chamelecón Rivers following Hurricane Fifi in 1975 (Matamoros et al., 2009).
Channel catfish were introduced from North America to Belarus in 1979 for aquaculture in the Pripyat river basin (Shumak and Mischenko, 1989) and have been reported in fish farms. Although unable to reproduce in Belarus under natural conditions it has established a self-sustaining population in the warm waters of Lake Beloe, which serves as a power plant cooling reservoir (Kunitskiy, 2001). I. punctatus has been assessed as having a medium risk of becoming invasive in Belarus on the basis of the FISK assessment tool which yielded a score of about 15. The tool ranked fish species as having low, medium or high risk of being invasive (Copp et al., 2009): <1 indicates low risk; 1-18.9 medium risk; and 19 to a maximum of 54 indicates high risk.
The channel catfish was introduced to Chile for aquaculture in 1995 and though listed as an exotic species in the fresh waters of Chile in a survey by Iriarte et al. (2005); it is not listed as invasive in a list tabulated of such species.
IntroductionsTop of page
Risk of IntroductionTop of page
Stocking of the channel catfish for sport fishing and food in lakes, reservoirs and ponds outside its native range has resulted in the expansion of its distribution due to the network of canals and drainage systems connecting water bodies. In Brazil, the culture of channel catfish in fish farms or fish cages located in river floodplains, river channels or marginal ponds, has resulted in fish escapes during periods of flooding (Orsi and Agostinho, 1999; Zanata et al., 2010).
When introduced to ecosystems where there is overlap in food niches of native species, competition for the same food resources by channel catfish can lead to significant impacts on native species. As adult channel catfish prey upon a variety of species, the potential risk to affect all native species exists (Tyus and Nikirk, 1990).
HabitatTop of page
The channel catfish can be found in clean, rocky, well-oxygenated, medium to large rivers and streams, as well as still waters or slow flowing rivers and muddy waters (Becker, 1983). Etnier and Starnes (2001) reported that channel catfish are also able to adapt to habitats such as small to large creeks, reservoirs, natural lakes, swamps, oxbow lakes, farm ponds and larger trout streams. They may enter brackish water but appear to be limited by salinities of 1.7 ppt (Scott and Crossman, 1973), although specimens have been collected from waters with salinities of 11 ppt (Ross, 2001) and 11.4 ppt (Perry, 1968).
Habitat ListTop of page
|Irrigation channels||Principal habitat||Natural|
|Irrigation channels||Principal habitat||Productive/non-natural|
|Rivers / streams||Principal habitat||Natural|
|Rivers / streams||Principal habitat||Productive/non-natural|
Biology and EcologyTop of page
Age at maturity appears to vary according to geographic location. For example, in Texas ponds individuals mature 18 months after hatching (Carlander, 1969), whereas in the coastal regions of Louisiana, at salinities of 3.5 ppt, specimens mature by the second or third year at 330-339 mm total length (TL) in males and 350-359 mm TL in females (Perry and Carver, 1973). In Lake Erie, half the males were mature when they reached 290 mm TL and half the females when they reached 250-255 mm TL (DeRoth, 1965). According to Appelget and Smith (1951), maturity is generally reached only when a total length of 305 mm is reached; in northern regions, channel catfish may only mature when 2-5 years of age or later (DeRoth, 1965).
Reported optimum spawning temperatures for channel catfish include 21°C (McMahon and Terrell, 1982), 21.7°C (McClellan, 1954), 23.8°C (Appleget and Smith, 1951), 23.9°C (Katz, 1954), 20.6°-23.3°C (Smith, 1974) and 21.1°-29.5°C (Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, 1988). Spawning occurs in late spring and early summer when water temperatures reach 16-24°C (Appleget and Smith, 1951). Males generally select a suitable spawning site, usually in sheltered areas such as among stones, hollow logs, under banks or other suitable cover. Eggs are then laid in a nest excavated by the female after which males guard and fan the water over the nest for 5-10 days when the eggs hatch. Spawning takes 4-6 hours, with as many as 8000 eggs being laid (Appleget and Smith, 1951). Eggs require 15.5° to 29.5°C for development to occur, being unable to develop below 15.5°C, with optimum development occurring at 27°C (McMahon and Terrell, 1982). Fertilized eggs hatch in 6 days at 25°C and in 10 days at 15.6°C. Toole (1951) reported eggs hatching in 5-10 days in Texas ponds.
Channel catfish generally live 6 to 10 years although longer life spans have been reported with fish more than 14 years of age being reported in several waters. In Colorado, specimens reaching 22 years of age have been reported in an introduced population (Tyus and Nikirk, 1990) while in Canada, a specimen as old as 40 years of age has been recorded (Carlander, 1969).
According to Becker (1983), channel catfish may travel upstream or downstream in rivers to spawn. Movement of reservoir populations increases during or soon after periods of increased river flow. Duncan and Myers (1978) and Dames et al. (1989) observed that reservoir and river populations of channel catfish tend to migrate upstream in spring and downstream in the fall.
The channel catfish is an omnivorous, opportunistic feeder, feeding on both living and dead matter. It feeds by touch, and taste; taste buds located on the barbels help in the detection of prey (Joyce and Chapman, 1978). Channel catfish usually feed at night, and only at water temperatures above 15.6°C (Becker, 1983). Larval stages feed on midge larvae and pupae. Channel catfish smaller than 102 mm total length (TL) feed primarily on insects; while those larger than 102 mm TL continue to feed on aquatic insects, they also begin to feed on large species of mayflies and caddis flies. Larger fish tend to feed on terrestrial insects, seeds (from elm and cottonwood trees), crayfish, aquatic insect nymphs, snakes, birds, spiders and plant matter (Becker, 1983). Other plant food items include wild grapes, wild fruits, weed seeds and other plant matter falling into rivers and streams from overhanging branches. A high incidence of aquatic vegetation was reported in the stomachs of channel catfish sampled from a Missouri River reservoir, which included Ranunculus aquatilis, Ceratophyllum demersum, Potamogeton crispus, Myriophyllum spicatum, Spirogyra spp. (Dagel et al., 2010). In coastal areas, small crustaceans (amphipods, isopods, xanthid crabs), midge larvae and pupae and organic detritus form the diet of fish larger than 76-119 mm. Menzel (1945) reported channel catfish feeding on plants such as filamentous green algae. Species of fish consumed by large channel catfish depend on their availability: minnows (Cyprinidae), bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus), crappie (Pomoxis spp.), yellow perch (Perca flavescens), hickory shad (Alosa mediocris), gizzard shad (Dorosoma cepedianum), eels (Anguilla spp.), and green sunfish (Lepomis cyanellus) (Bailey and Harrison, 1945; Robinette and Knight, 1981). Flooding of steams allows channel catfish to consume terrestrial prey such as earthworms, crickets, centipedes and even mice and rats as they make their way onto flooded plains (Robinette and Knight, 1981). The stomach contents of one adult channel catfish from Canton Reservoir in Oklahoma reportedly contained an adult bobwhite quail (Colinus virginianus) (Buck and Cross, 1952), while cotton rats (Sigmodon hispidus) have been reported in stomachs of channel catfish from a lake in Oklahoma (Heard, 1958). It is not known if the channel catfish had been feeding on live rats swimming on the surface or on drowned rats on the bottom.
Survival in brackish water appears to be limited by salinities of 1.7 ppt, although specimens have been collected at 11 ppt (Ross, 2001). Although channel catfish prefer a temperature range of 28-30°C (Cheetham et al., 1976), they can survive higher temperatures; Allen and Strawn (1968) noted the upper lethal temperature for the species ranges from 36.6-37.8°C for acclimation temperatures of 26-34°C. They are known to survive at water temperatures close to freezing as well since channel catfish ponds in northwest Mississippi periodically freeze in winter (Moss and Scott, 1961). While dissolved oxygen levels greater than or equal to 7 mg/ml are optimum for growth and survival, levels of 5-7 mg/ml are considered acceptable; lethal levels of dissolved oxygen concentrations have been reported to be 0.95-1.08 mg/l (Meisenheimer, 1988). Dissolved oxygen levels less than 3 mg/ml retard growth, with feeding decreasing at less than 5 mg/ml (Randolph and Clemens, 1976). According to Becker (1983), embryonic and larval development will be affected if oxygen levels are too low, and that the deleterious effects of low oxygen levels are dependent on water temperature.
Juveniles prefer depths of 50-70 cm while adults go for the deepest water possible (Holland and Peters, 1992); both juveniles and adults prefer areas of slow to moderate currents e.g. less than 60 cm/sec (Holland and Peters, 1992). McMahon and Terrell (1982) however report that current velocities of less than 15 cm/sec are preferred in deep ponds and backwaters and optimal turbidity levels of below 100 ppm.
Natural Food SourcesTop of page
|Food Source||Life Stage||Contribution to Total Food Intake (%)||Details|
|Insect larvae, pupae||Larval|
|Insects, detritus, crayfish, fish, snakes, birds||Adult|
|Plankton, aquatic insects||Fry|
ClimateTop of page
|A - Tropical/Megathermal climate||Preferred||Average temp. of coolest month > 18°C, > 1500mm precipitation annually|
|Af - Tropical rainforest climate||Preferred||> 60mm precipitation per month|
|Am - Tropical monsoon climate||Preferred||Tropical monsoon climate ( < 60mm precipitation driest month but > (100 - [total annual precipitation(mm}/25]))|
|C - Temperate/Mesothermal climate||Tolerated||Average temp. of coldest month > 0°C and < 18°C, mean warmest month > 10°C|
Latitude/Altitude RangesTop of page
|Latitude North (°N)||Latitude South (°S)||Altitude Lower (m)||Altitude Upper (m)|
Air TemperatureTop of page
|Parameter||Lower limit||Upper limit|
|Mean annual temperature (ºC)||10||21|
|Mean maximum temperature of hottest month (ºC)||40|
|Mean minimum temperature of coldest month (ºC)||0|
Water TolerancesTop of page
|Parameter||Minimum Value||Maximum Value||Typical Value||Status||Life Stage||Notes|
|Ammonia [unionised] (mg/l)||<0.2||Harmful||Adult||as nitrogen|
|Ammonia [unionised] (mg/l)||<0.2||Harmful||Broodstock||as nitrogen|
|Ammonia [unionised] (mg/l)||<0.2||Harmful||Egg||as nitrogen|
|Ammonia [unionised] (mg/l)||<0.2||Harmful||Larval||as nitrogen|
|Ammonia [unionised] (mg/l)||<0.2||Harmful||Fry||as nitrogen|
|Ammonia [unionised] (mg/l)||0||Optimum||Adult||as nitrogen|
|Ammonia [unionised] (mg/l)||0||Optimum||Broodstock||as nitrogen|
|Ammonia [unionised] (mg/l)||0||Optimum||Egg||as nitrogen|
|Ammonia [unionised] (mg/l)||0||Optimum||Larval||as nitrogen|
|Ammonia [unionised] (mg/l)||0||Optimum||Fry||as nitrogen|
|Ammonia [unionised] (mg/l)||0||0.2||Harmful||Tucker (2000)|
|Ammonium [ionised] (mg/l)||0||Optimum||Adult|
|Ammonium [ionised] (mg/l)||0||Optimum||Broodstock|
|Ammonium [ionised] (mg/l)||0||Optimum||Egg|
|Ammonium [ionised] (mg/l)||0||Optimum||Larval|
|Ammonium [ionised] (mg/l)||0||Optimum||Fry|
|Ammonium [ionised] (mg/l)||3.8||Harmful||Adult|
|Ammonium [ionised] (mg/l)||3.8||Harmful||Broodstock|
|Ammonium [ionised] (mg/l)||3.8||Harmful||Egg|
|Ammonium [ionised] (mg/l)||3.8||Harmful||Larval|
|Ammonium [ionised] (mg/l)||3.8||Harmful||Fry|
|Carbon Dioxide (mg/l)||0||Optimum||Adult||depends on dissolved oxygen|
|Carbon Dioxide (mg/l)||0||Optimum||Broodstock||depends on dissolved oxygen|
|Carbon Dioxide (mg/l)||0||Optimum||Egg||depends on dissolved oxygen|
|Carbon Dioxide (mg/l)||0||Optimum||Larval||depends on dissolved oxygen|
|Carbon Dioxide (mg/l)||0||Optimum||Fry||depends on dissolved oxygen|
|Dissolved oxygen (mg/l)||20||Harmful||Adult|
|Dissolved oxygen (mg/l)||20||Harmful||Broodstock|
|Dissolved oxygen (mg/l)||20||Harmful||Egg|
|Dissolved oxygen (mg/l)||20||Harmful||Larval|
|Dissolved oxygen (mg/l)||20||Harmful||Fry|
|Dissolved oxygen (mg/l)||5-15||Optimum||Adult|
|Dissolved oxygen (mg/l)||5-15||Optimum||Broodstock|
|Dissolved oxygen (mg/l)||5-15||Optimum||Egg|
|Dissolved oxygen (mg/l)||5-15||Optimum||Larval|
|Dissolved oxygen (mg/l)||5-15||Optimum||Fry|
|Dissolved oxygen (mg/l)||5||15||Optimum||Meisenheimer (1988); Tucker (2000)|
|Dissolved oxygen (mg/l)||1||20||Harmful|
|Hardness (mg/l of Calcium Carbonate)||>400||Harmful||Adult|
|Hardness (mg/l of Calcium Carbonate)||>400||Harmful||Broodstock|
|Hardness (mg/l of Calcium Carbonate)||>400||Harmful||Egg|
|Hardness (mg/l of Calcium Carbonate)||>400||Harmful||Larval|
|Hardness (mg/l of Calcium Carbonate)||>400||Harmful||Fry|
|Hardness (mg/l of Calcium Carbonate)||20-400||Optimum||Adult|
|Hardness (mg/l of Calcium Carbonate)||20-400||Optimum||Broodstock|
|Hardness (mg/l of Calcium Carbonate)||20-400||Optimum||Egg|
|Hardness (mg/l of Calcium Carbonate)||20-400||Optimum||Larval|
|Hardness (mg/l of Calcium Carbonate)||20-400||Optimum||Fry|
|Hydrogen sulphide (mg/l)||<0.01||Harmful||Adult||as sulphur|
|Hydrogen sulphide (mg/l)||<0.01||Harmful||Broodstock||as sulphur|
|Hydrogen sulphide (mg/l)||<0.01||Harmful||Egg||as sulphur|
|Hydrogen sulphide (mg/l)||<0.01||Harmful||Larval||as sulphur|
|Hydrogen sulphide (mg/l)||<0.01||Harmful||Fry||as sulphur|
|Hydrogen sulphide (mg/l)||0||Optimum||Adult||as sulphur|
|Hydrogen sulphide (mg/l)||0||Optimum||Broodstock||as sulphur|
|Hydrogen sulphide (mg/l)||0||Optimum||Egg||as sulphur|
|Hydrogen sulphide (mg/l)||0||Optimum||Larval||as sulphur|
|Hydrogen sulphide (mg/l)||0||Optimum||Fry||as sulphur|
|Nitrite (mg/l)||0||Optimum||Adult||depends on chlorine|
|Nitrite (mg/l)||0||Optimum||Broodstock||depends on chlorine|
|Nitrite (mg/l)||0||Optimum||Egg||depends on chlorine|
|Nitrite (mg/l)||0||Optimum||Larval||depends on chlorine|
|Nitrite (mg/l)||0||Optimum||Fry||depends on chlorine|
|Salinity (part per thousand)||8||Harmful||Adult|
|Salinity (part per thousand)||8||Harmful||Egg|
|Salinity (part per thousand)||8||Harmful||Fry|
|Salinity (part per thousand)||0.5-2.0||Optimum||Larval|
|Salinity (part per thousand)||0.5-3.0||Optimum||Adult|
|Salinity (part per thousand)||0.5-3.0||Optimum||Broodstock|
|Salinity (part per thousand)||0.5-3.0||Optimum||Egg|
|Salinity (part per thousand)||0.5-3.0||Optimum||Fry|
|Salinity (part per thousand)||20||Harmful||Broodstock|
|Salinity (part per thousand)||3.0||Harmful||Larval|
|Salinity (part per thousand)||0.1||12||Harmful||Tucker (2000)|
|Salinity (part per thousand)||0.5||4||1.7||Optimum||Tucker (2000)|
|Water pH (pH)||>9||Harmful||Adult|
|Water pH (pH)||>9||Harmful||Broodstock|
|Water pH (pH)||>9||Harmful||Egg|
|Water pH (pH)||>9||Harmful||Larval|
|Water pH (pH)||>9||Harmful||Fry|
|Water pH (pH)||6-9||Optimum||Adult|
|Water pH (pH)||6-9||Optimum||Broodstock|
|Water pH (pH)||6-9||Optimum||Egg|
|Water pH (pH)||6-9||Optimum||Larval|
|Water pH (pH)||6-9||Optimum||Fry|
|Water pH (pH)||10||4.5||Harmful||Tucker (2000)|
|Water pH (pH)||9||5.5||Optimum||Tucker (2000)|
|Water temperature (ºC temperature)||28||30||Optimum||Cheetham et al. (1976); minimum of 21°C and maximum of 28°C for reproduction|
|Water temperature (ºC temperature)||36.6||37.8||Harmful|
Natural enemiesTop of page
|Natural enemy||Type||Life stages||Specificity||References||Biological control in||Biological control on|
|Anax junius||Predator||All Stages||not specific|
|Anguilla rostrata||Predator||All Stages||not specific|
|Ardea herodias||Predator||All Stages||not specific|
|Buteo jamaicensis||Predator||All Stages||not specific|
|Dytiscus||Predator||All Stages||not specific|
|Haliaeetus leucocephalus||Predator||All Stages||not specific|
|Ichthyomyzon castaneus||Predator||All Stages||not specific|
|Lepomis macrochirus||Predator||All Stages||not specific|
|Micropterus salmoides||Predator||All Stages||not specific|
|Notemigonus crysoleucas||Predator||All Stages||not specific|
|Notophthalmus viridescens||Predator||All Stages||not specific|
|Pelecanus erythrorhynchos||Predator||Adult/Fry||Glahn and et al. , 1995|
|Perca flavescens||Predator||All Stages||not specific|
|Phalacrocorax auritus||Predator||Adult/Fry||Glahn and et al. , 1995|
|Pomoxis nigromaculatus||Predator||All Stages||not specific|
|Pylodictis olivaris||Predator||All Stages||not specific|
Notes on Natural EnemiesTop of page
The large adult size and presence of spines means predation on channel catfish is likely to be limited to the younger stages. Young channel catfish are vulnerable to predation by insects, other fish and fish-eating birds. Cormorants (Phalacrocorax carbo), herons (Ardea herodias) and pelicans (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos) cause serious losses on catfish farms (Glahn et al., 1995; King et al., 1995; Wywialowski, 1999; Glahn et al., 2002).
Pathway CausesTop of page
|Breeding and propagation||Yes||Yes|
|Escape from confinement or garden escape||Yes||Yes|
|Flooding and other natural disasters||Yes||Yes|
|Hunting, angling, sport or racing||Yes||Yes|
|Live food or feed trade||Yes||Yes|
Pathway VectorsTop of page
Impact SummaryTop of page
|Environment (generally)||Positive and negative|
|Fisheries / aquaculture||Positive|
Economic ImpactTop of page
Channel catfish in the James River estuary in Virginia were reported to prey on blue crab (Callinectes sapidus) and white perch (Morone americana) and are known to eat the spawn of many other commercial sport and fishery species, including Atlantic shad (Alosa sapidissima), blueback herring (A. aestivalis), alewife (A. pseudoharengus) (Menzel, 1945). McGovern and Olney (1988) found M. americana eggs and M. saxatilis eggs and larvae in gut contents of juvenile channel catfish from the Pamunkey River in Virginia.
Environmental ImpactTop of page
Impact on Biodiversity
Channel catfish were first introduced into the Upper Colorado River Basin in 1892 (Tyus and Nikirk, 1990) and are now common to abundant throughout much of the upper basin (Tyus et al., 1982; Nelson et al., 1995). It is one of the most prolific predators in the upper basin and, among the nonnative fishes, is thought to have the greatest adverse effect on endangered fish species (Hawkins and Nesler, 1991; Lentsch et al., 1996; Tyus and Saunders, 1996), primarily as a result of predation on juveniles and resource overlap with subadults and adults. Jenkins and Burkhead (1994) suggested that the introduction of channel catfish and other large predatory fishes (Micropterus salmoides, M. dolomieu) may have contributed to the extirpation of the native species Percina caprodes (logperch) in the Potomac river and Percopsis oniscomaycus (troutperch) in the Potomac and Susquehanna rivers. The channel catfish is a major predator of razorback sucker (Xyrauchen texanus) in the Gila River (Marsh and Brooks, 1989) and along the Colorado River in California (Langhorst, 1989). Intense predation by channel catfish led to the failure of efforts to re-establish the critically endangered razorback sucker (X. texanus) in the Gila River Basin (Marsh and Brooks, 1989). Lentsch et al. (1996) identified the channel catfish as one of six non-native species in the upper Colorado River basin that is a threat to the razorback sucker; it is also the principal non-native threat to juvenile, subadult and adult Colorado pikeminnow (Ptychocheilus lucius) in the San Juan River in New Mexico. As adult Colorado pikeminnow use the same habitats as adult channel catfish, there is a potential for negative interactions, particularly during periods of limited availability of resources (Wick et al. 1985; Tyus and Karp 1989; Nesler, 1995). In the James River estuary it preys upon Callinectes sapidus and Morone americana (white perch) and feeds on the spawn of M. americana, Alosa sapidissima (Atlantic shad), A. aestivalis (blueback herring) and A. pseudoharengus (alewife) (Menzel, 1945). The channel catfish hybridizes with the threatened Yaqui catfish (Ictalurus pricei) in Mexico (Sublette et al., 1990; Kelsch and Jensen, 1997) while in New Mexico, it hybridizes with the native headwater catfish (I. lupus) (Kelsch and Hendricks, 1990).
There are reports of the endangered Colorado squawfish (Colorado pikeminnow), Ptychocheilus lucius, choking on introduced channel catfish while trying to feed on them (McAda, 1983; Pimental et al., 1985). The predatory habit of the channel catfish is thought to be responsible for the decline of the razorback sucker (Xyrauchen texanus) (Marsh and Brooks, 1989) and the Chiricahua leopard frog (Lithobates chiricahuensis) in Arizona (Rosen et al., 1995) and the humpback chub (Gila cypha) in the Little Colorado River (Marsh and Douglas, 1997). The channel catfish is also believed to have contributed to the extirpation of an isolated population of trout perch, Percopsis omiscomaycus, in the Potomac River in Virginia and Maryland (Jenkins and Burkhead, 1994). A decrease in crayfish numbers due to predation by channel catfish in mesocosm experiments (Adams, 2007), implies it could be responsible for the decline in native crayfish populations in habitats where the channel catfish has been introduced. In Japan, invasion by channel catfish of Lake Kasumigaura, an important inland commercial fishery, is thought to be the major cause of the decline in populations of native species and subsequent damage to commercial fisheries (Hanzawa, 2004; Hanzawa and Arayama, 2007; Arayama, 2010; Katano et al., 2010).
Impact: BiodiversityTop of page
Ictalurus punctatus are an important sport species in many states of the USA and are actively managed in at least 31 states (Vanderford, 1984). Fuller et al. (1999) cites observations related to I. punctatus preying on small and large endangered species. FishBase (2004) lists catfish as a potential pest although there is little literature on impacts of introductions.
Threatened SpeciesTop of page
|Threatened Species||Conservation Status||Where Threatened||Mechanism||References||Notes|
|Gila cypha||EN (IUCN red list: Endangered) EN (IUCN red list: Endangered)||Arizona||Predation||Marsh and Douglas, 1997|
|Ictalurus pricei||EN (IUCN red list: Endangered) EN (IUCN red list: Endangered)||Hybridization||Varela-Romero et al., 2011|
|Percopsis omiscomaycus||LC (IUCN red list: Least concern) LC (IUCN red list: Least concern)||Maryland; Virginia||Predation||Jenkins and Burkhead, 1994|
|Xyrauchen texanus (razorback sucker)||CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered) CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered); USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered species||Arizona||Predation||Marsh and Brooks, 1989|
|Rana chiricahuensis (Chiricahua leopard frog)||VU (IUCN red list: Vulnerable) VU (IUCN red list: Vulnerable)||Arizona||Predation||Rosen et al., 1995|
Risk and Impact FactorsTop of page Invasiveness
- Invasive in its native range
- Proved invasive outside its native range
- Has a broad native range
- Abundant in its native range
- Highly adaptable to different environments
- Is a habitat generalist
- Tolerates, or benefits from, cultivation, browsing pressure, mutilation, fire etc
- Capable of securing and ingesting a wide range of food
- Highly mobile locally
- Long lived
- Fast growing
- Has high reproductive potential
- Has high genetic variability
- Altered trophic level
- Changed gene pool/ selective loss of genotypes
- Damaged ecosystem services
- Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
- Increases vulnerability to invasions
- Modification of natural benthic communities
- Modification of nutrient regime
- Reduced native biodiversity
- Threat to/ loss of endangered species
- Threat to/ loss of native species
- Competition - monopolizing resources
- Rapid growth
- Highly likely to be transported internationally accidentally
- Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately
- Highly likely to be transported internationally illegally
- Difficult/costly to control
Uses ListTop of page
Animal feed, fodder, forage
- Laboratory use
- Pet/aquarium trade
- Research model
- Sport (hunting, shooting, fishing, racing)
- Gene source
Human food and beverage
- Meat/fat/offal/blood/bone (whole, cut, fresh, frozen, canned, cured, processed or smoked)
Similarities to Other Species/ConditionsTop of page
Although I. punctatus resembles the headwater catfish, I. lupus, it has more than 25 anal fin rays (less than 25 for I. lupus), and the caudal fin in younger specimens is deeply forked. I. punctatus can be distinguished from the blue catfish (I. furcatus) by the presence of a shorter rounded anal fin (the margin of the anal fin being almost straight in I. furcatus) (Sublette et al., 1990).
In Brazil, the introduced channel catfish is often confused with the native silver catfish jundia (Rhamdia quelen). The native silver catfish, however, has 3 pairs of barbels while the channel catfish has 4 (Wellborn, 1988); the first ray of the dorsal fin of the channel catfish exists as a rigid spine while in the silver catfish, it is soft.
Prevention and ControlTop of page
Careful consideration of an introduction before it occurs reduces the potential risks of intentional introductions of non-indigenous species. Several protocols have been developed to evaluate proposed introductions, and address environmental concerns, such as the ICES Code of Practice and the American Fisheries Society protocol (Elvira, 2001). When a proposal to introduce channel catfish into New Zealand for aquaculture was made, a review team considered the environmental risks posed. As the evidence obtained from the North American experience indicated that one or more valued species was likely to suffer a decline in abundance or distribution if channel catfish were introduced, the review team concluded that the environmental risk posed by the introduction of the channel catfish was unacceptable (Townsend and Winterbourn, 1992). Education programmes that promote a general awareness of the consequences of the introduction of non-indigenous species and means of minimising the risks of introduction, and the enforcement of existing legislation are vital in preventing the spread of introduced fish species.
Fish screens could be installed to prevent the escape of channel catfish from ponds and reservoirs into rivers where they might interact with native fishes. Screening reservoir outlets, berming ponds to prevent nonnative fishes from escaping into rivers, and working with state authorities as in the United States, to regulate stocking of nonnative fishes are some of the measures being taken to regulate channel catfish populations (Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, 2004). In the states of Washington, Oregon and Idaho, channel catfish is stocked in lakes that are not connected to main stem rivers to prevent further spread of the species into unrestricted waterways (Boersma et al., 2006). Regulation of escapes from aquaculture and illegal introductions is also necessary, along with a need for more comprehensive monitoring to reduce the future expansion of I. punctatus from lakes to connecting rivers.
While chemical measures would harm endangered species which occupy the same or adjacent habitat, mechanical removal (active and passive netting) is not only expensive but impossible for total removal, according to Tyus and Saunders (2000). Nonetheless, mechanical removal of channel catfish has been proposed as a long-term, efficient means of removing channel catfish to suppress its abundance. There have been short-lived individual removal efforts in the Upper Colorado River Basin lasting 2-3 years, targeting the channel catfish, involving the use of electrofishing, netting and angling (Brooks et al., 2000; Jackson and Badame, 2002; Modde and Fuller, 2002; Davis, 2003).
The use of intensive fishing has also been proposed as larger catfish are vulnerable to fishing and angling has all but eliminated larger specimens in some regions e.g. Wyoming (Gerhardt and Hubert, 1991). Unfortunately, commercial fishing of channel catfish in the Missouri and Mississippi rivers has been so effective that fishing had to be stopped or size restrictions imposed to enable the populations to recover. According to Pool (2007) no known programme exists to control wild populations of invasive channel catfish in the Pacific Northwest region.
In Japan, to prevent further ecological and economic damage by I. punctatus in Lake Kasumigaura, steps were taken by the authorities to reduce their numbers. From 2005, Ibaraki Prefecture, with the help of local fishermen, initiated an I. punctatus removal project, which required them to remove I. punctatus caught as a by-product when fishing with stationary nets. Matsuzaki et al. (2011) suggest that more proactive and intensive stationary netting may be an effective method for reducing I. punctatus populations in Lake Kasumigaura.
Gaps in Knowledge/Research NeedsTop of page
Further research is required to quantify the extent of the interaction between the channel catfish and native species where the former has been introduced, and investigate its potential for establishment in the wild and possible environmental consequences.
ReferencesTop of page
Adams SB, 2007. Direct and indirect effects of channel catfish (Ictalurus punctatus) on native crayfishes (Cambaridae) in experimental tanks. American Midland Naturalist, 158:85-96.
Allen KO, Strawn K, 1968. Heat tolerance of channel catfish, Ictalurus puntalatus. Proceedings of the Southeast Association of Game and Fish Commission, 21:399-411.
Amori G, Angelici FM, Frugis S, Gandolfi G, Groppali R, Lanza B, Relin G, Vicini G, 1993. Vertebrata. In: Minelli A, Ruffo S, La Posta S, eds. Checklist delle specie Della Funa Italiana, 110. Calderini, Italy, 983 pp.
Appleget J, Smith Jr LL, 1951. The determination of age and rate of growth from vertebrae ofthe channel catfish, Ictalurus lacustris punctatus. Trans. Am. Fish. Soc, 80:119-139.
Arayama K, 2010. Experimental determination of the attributes of channel catfish prey. Nippon Suisan Gakkaishi, 76:68-70.
Bailey RM, Harrison HM, 1945. Food habits of the southern channel catfish (Ictalurus lacustris punctatus). Transactions of the American Fisheries Society, 75:110-138.
Behnke RJ, Wetzel RM, 1960. A preliminary list of the fishes found in the fresh waters of Connecticut. Copeia, 1960(1):141-143.
Boersma PD, Reichard S, Buren AVan, 2006. Invasive species in the Pacific Northwest. Seattle, USA: University of Washington Press, 276 pp.
Brock VE, 1960. The introduction of aquatic animals into Hawaiian waters. Internationale Revue der Gesamten hydrobiology, 45(4):463-480.
Brooks JE, Buntjer MJ, Smith JR, 2000. Non-native species interactions interactions: management implications to aid in recovery of the Colorado pikeminnow Ptychocheilus lucius and razorback sucker Xyrauchen texanus in the San Juan River Basin Recovery Implementation Program. Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA: US Fish and Wildlife Service.
Buck H, Cross F, 1951. Early limnological and fish population conditions of Canton Reservoir, Oklahoma, and fishery management recommendations. Stillwater, Oklahoma, USA: Res. Found. Okla. A.&M. CoIlege, 110 pp.
Cam GH, 2011. La piscicultura del Catfish (Ictalurus punctatus) en Costa Rica. UTN Informa, 58:49-52.
Carmichael GJ, Schmidt ME, Marizut DC, 1992. electrophoretic identification of genetic markets in channel catfish and blue catfish by use of low-risk tissues. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society, 121:26-35.
Chakalall B, 1993. Species cultured in insular Caribbean countries, B. French Guiana, Guyana and Suriname. Caribbean Technical Co-operation Network Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture. RLAC/93/28-PES-24. Santiago, Chile: FAO Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean.
Cheetham JL, Garten Jr CL, King CL, Smith MH, 1976. Temperature tolerance and preference of immature channel catfish (Ictalurus punctatus). Copeia, 1976(3):609-612.
Chiba K, Taki Y Sakai K, Oozeki Y, 1989. Present status of aquatic organisms introduced into Japan. In: De Silva SS, ed., Exotic aquatic organisms in Asia, Proceedings of the Workshop on Introduction of Exotic Aquatic Organisms in Asia, p 63-70, Asian Fish Soc. Spec. Publ. 3,. Manila, Philippines: Asian Fish Society.
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ContributorsTop of page
22/10/13 Updated by:
Uma Sabapathy Allen, CABI, Nosworthy Way, Wallingford, Oxfordshire, OX10 8DE, UK
University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, Aquaculture/Fisheries Cent of Excellence, Woodard Hall, Room 219, 1200 N. University Drive, Mail Slot 4912, Pine Bluff, AR 71603, USA
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