Channel Catfish
  • Side view adult.
  • Side view adult.
  • Side view adult.
  • Top view adult.
  • Bottom view adult.
  • Head-on view adult.
  • Close-up flank.
  • Close-up head.
  • Close-up mouth and snout.
  • Close-up tail.
  • Close-up dorsal fin.
  • Close-up anal fin.
  • Close-up pectoral fin.
  • Close-up pelvic fin.
  • Horn-like backward lateral extensions from the tooth patch on the roof of the mouth are absent.
  • Large adults lack spots; the anal fin base is longer than the post-orbital distance.
  • The side view shows dark spots, a deeply forked tail, a "free" adipose fin, a rounded head, and relatively large eyes.
  • The anal fin has 24-27 rays, including rudimentaries, and a rounded margin.
  • Close-up of head: The upper jaw is longer than the lower; the head is rounded; the dorsal eyes are relatively large.
  • Side view of a pregnant female; breeders are similar to non-breeders.
  • Side view of a pregnant female; breeders are similar to non-breeders.
  • Bottom view of a pregnant female; breeders are similar to non-breeders.
  • Close-up of head of a breeding male: Notice the swelling above and behind the eye. Otherwise breeders are similar to non-breeders.
  • Side view of a young-of-year: Juveniles are similar to adults, but spots may be faint.
  • Side view of a young-of-year: Juveniles are similar to adults, but spots may be faint.
  • Side view of a young-of-year: Juveniles are similar to adults, but spots may be faint.
  • Alternative side view.
  • Alternative view of caudal region.
DescriptionSimilar Species
Family
Bullhead Catfishes (Ictaluridae)
Body
Mouth and snout: Slightly subterminal, patches of numerous fine teeth on jaws. 8 obvious barbels (4 pairs; 2 pair on chin, 1 pair on side of upper jaw (near corner of mouth), 1 pair on top of snout). Body patterning, color, and scales: Spotted as juveniles and small adults; spots fade with size and age yielding a solid color as large adults. Color bluish gray or bluish olive, with irregular small black spots on sides. Belly white. Fins and barbels moderately to darkly pigmented. No scales. Body shape and size: Body dorsal-ventrally flattened with a tapered head; in cross section approximately oval (with a long horizontal axis) to round with a flattened ventral surface. Typically 400-600 mm (16-24 in) TL; maximum in Wisconsin about 850 mm (34 in).
Fins
Tail, dorsal and other fins: Forked tail. Single dorsal with 1 stout spine and 6-7 rays, attached by membrane. Pelvic fins abdominal. Adipose fin present. Anal fin with 24-27 rays (including rudimentary rays).
Distinguishing Characteristics
The channel catfish can be distinguished by its “free”, flaplike adipose fin, by its deeply forked tail, in having its upper jaw extend slightly beyond the lower, in not having the tooth patch in the roof of its upper jaw with lateral backward extensions, and having its anal fin base longer than their post-orbital distance. See also similar species information.
Breeding Adults
Similar to non-breeders, although males may be more bluish and have a swollen area above and behind eyes.
Juveniles
Similar to adults, with pronounced spots and a generally lighter color.
Hybrids
None reported from Wisconsin.
Compare Similar Species
Anal Fin
Catfish, Blue30-36, edge straight
Catfish, Channel24-27, edge rounded
Catfish, Flathead14-16, edge rounded
Color Pattern
Catfish, BlueSolid at all ages
Catfish, ChannelSpotted as juveniles, small adults; solid as large adults
Catfish, Flatheadlight brown to yellow, mottled with dark brown or black (mottling tendingt to disappear in adults)
Head
Catfish, BlueSteep, straight or slightly concave profile; eye smaller and more lateral
Catfish, ChannelRelatively shallow, rounded profile; eye relatively large and dorsal
Catfish, FlatheadBroadly flattened, oval in cross-section, with short but wide horizontal mouth
Similarity Index
Catfish, BlueVery similar
Catfish, ChannelN/A
Catfish, FlatheadModerately similar
Comments
Catfish, BlueNot native to WI, but has been stocked in the past - not established
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