''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.
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.