What Does Channel Catfish Eat?

Pet shops sell channel catfish (Ictalurus punctatus) when they’re tiny youngsters. Properly fed channel catfish, though, will grow to about 60 pounds. Channel catfish will grow large enough to require an outdoor pond or an aquarium with a capacity of several hundred gallons.

What is the best bait for channel catfish?

While the best fishing bait for channel catfish is a nightcrawler, there are plenty of other effective baits as well. These include shrimp, fresh cut bait, livers, live minnows, prepared baits, and more. Some anglers swear by soap as bait! Channel catfish will eat just about anything at one time or another.

What is channel catfish favorite food?

They prefer clean, well oxygenated waters, but can also live in ponds and reservoirs. DIET: Channel catfish feed primarily on small fish, crustaceans (crayfish), clams and snails, aquatic insects and small mammals. There are even reports of channel catfish eating small birds.

What is the best food for catfish?

Catfish feeds are mainly plant-based, though feeds for fry and small fingerlings contain some fish meal and other animal proteins. Major ingredients used in catfish feeds generally include soybean meal, cottonseed meal, corn and by-products, and wheat by-products. There are various types of catfish feeds.

What do channel catfish eat in a tank?

They are omnivores that lean toward meaty foods. They will eat just about anything they can fit in their mouths and will make a good try at anything else. For their day-to-day feedings, you can feed a flake or pellet food. Generally, you should use flake foods for young channel cats and pellets for larger fish.

The oldest reported age for a channel catfish is 24 years. The heaviest reported age for a channel catfish is 26.3 kg (57.9 lbs.) The albino form of the channel catfish is very popular in the aquarium trade. Channel catfish have been introduced throughout the U.S. to provide recreational shing opportunities for anglers.

Female channel catfish require cool water and short day lengths during the winter months for proper egg development. Channel catfish, when introduced to nonnative waters, can negatively impact indigenous sh species because they are such opportunistic feeders.

By Thomas L. Wellborn, University of Florida and published by the Southern Regional Agricultural Center and the Texas Aquaculture Extension Service – Channel catfish, Ictalurus punctatus (Rafinesque), is the most important species of aquatic animal commercially cultured in the United States. It belongs to the family Ictaluridae, order Siluriformes.

Channel
catfish
usually feed near the bottom in natural waters but will
take some food from the surface. Based on stomach analysis,
young catfish feed primarily on aquatic insects.

The adults
have a much more varied diet which includes insects, snails,
crawfish, green algae, aquatic plants, seeds, and small fish. Taste buds are found over the entire external surface of
catfish as well as inside the mouth, pharynx, and gill arches. The
olfactory organs are found in the nostrils (nares), which are
located on top of the head just in front of the eyes.

The size and age that channel catfish
reach in natural waters depends on many factors. Age and
growth studies have shown that in many natural waters
channel catfish do not reach 1 pound in size until they are 2
to 4 years old. One study in the Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri,
found that channel catfish did not reach a size of 13 inches
total length until they were 8 years old.

Although catfish live in the water, gills serve essentiallythe same functions as our lungs to take oxygen from theexternal environment and to rid the body of toxic gaseouswaste, carbon dioxide (CO2). There are four gillson both sides of the head, each consisting of a double row ofslender gill filaments. A fish breathes by sucking water in through the mouth
where it flows directly over the gill filaments and across the
lamellae.

By simple diffusion, oxygen crosses the
gill surface and enters the blood where it is carried throughout
the fish. Gills can become
thickened following exposure to ammonia, certain vitamin
deficiencies, or to long-term parasite or bacterial infestations. Any type of toxic agent which damages the gill filaments or
lamellae will also affect the efficiency of gas exchange.

Newly
hatched fry have a large yolk sac which contains the nourishment
they need for the next 2 to 5 days until they are fully
developed and are ready to start feeding. After the yolk sac
is absorbed, the fry take on their typical dark color and will
begin to swim-up looking for food.

Staple Foods

Essentially, channel catfish like to eat everything. They are omnivores that lean toward meaty foods. They will eat just about anything they can fit in their mouths and will make a good try at anything else. For their day-to-day feedings, you can feed a flake or pellet food. Generally, you should use flake foods for young channel cats and pellets for larger fish. Many pet shops sell flakes and pellets specifically formulated for catfish. Use prepared foods like these as the main food for your fish.

Frozen Foods

Young channel catfish relish foods like bloodworms and brine shrimp. Many pet shops sell frozen cubes and blocks of these organisms. Break off a bit and toss it into the water. Be careful with bloodworms; many people are allergic to them. On a staple diet supplemented with bloodworms and brine shrimp, a young channel catfish can grow as much as an inch a month.

Live Food

Live food in the aquarium is a special treat for channel catfish. They respond well to live foods, apparently relishing the chance to hunt. Many pet shops sell food items like feeder guppies, live crayfish and possible various worms and shrimp. Pick a feeder large enough for your channel cat, and release it into the tank.

Cool Facts

The oldest reported age for a channel catfish is 24 years. The heaviest reported age for a channel catfish is 26.3 kg (57.9 lbs.) The albino form of the channel catfish is very popular in the aquarium trade. Channel catfish have been introduced throughout the U.S. to provide recreational fishing opportunities for anglers.SIZE: Common length for channel catfish is 57 cm (22 inches) with the longest maximum reported length at 132 cm (52 inches).RANGE: The range of Channel catfish extends from southern Canada into northern Mexico. They are found within the central drainages of the United States.HABITAT: Adult channel catfish inhabit rivers and streams. They prefer clean, well oxygenated waters, but can also live in ponds and reservoirs.DIET: Channel catfish feed primarily on small fish, crustaceans (crayfish), clams and snails, aquatic insects and small mammals. There are even reports of channel catfish eating small birds.

Natural History

Male channel catfish turn dark during spawning season and develop a thick pad on the top of their heads. Female channel catfish require cool water and short day lengths during the winter months for proper egg development. Channel catfish spawn, depending on the latitude, during the months of April through July, when temperatures reach 27 or 28 degrees Celsius (80‐82 degrees Fahrenheit).The spawning catfish pair will dig a depression on the bottom of the river or stream, or find a suitable sub-surface cavity to deposit their eggs, which is then guarded by the male catfish. Egg incubation will last between 3 to 8 days, depending on the water temperature. Channel catfish larvae will take 12 to 16 days to develop.

Channel Catfish – Life History and Biology

By Thomas L. Wellborn, University of Florida and published by the Southern Regional Agricultural Center and the Texas Aquaculture Extension Service – Channel catfish, Ictalurus punctatus (Rafinesque), is the most important species of aquatic animal commercially cultured in the United States. It belongs to the family Ictaluridae, order Siluriformes.Channel Catfish: Life History and Biology – By Thomas L. Wellborn, University of Florida and published by the Southern Regional Agricultural Center and the Texas Aquaculture Extension Service – Channel catfish, Ictalurus punctatus (Rafinesque), is the most important species of aquatic animal commercially cultured in the United States. It belongs to the family Ictaluridae, order Siluriformes.Members of the order Siluriformes are found in fresh and salt water worldwide. There are at least 39 species of catfish in North America, but only seven have been cultured or have potential for commercial production. They are the blue catfish, Ictalurus furcatus (LeSueur); the white catfish, Ictalurus catus (Linnaeus); the black bullhead, Ictalurus melas (Rafinesque); the brown bullhead, Ictalurus nebulosus (LeSueur); the yellow bullhead, Ictalurus natalis (LeSueur); and the flathead catfish, Pylodictis olivaris (Rafinesque).

Distribution

Channel catfish were originally found only in the Gulf States and the Mississippi Valley north to the prairie provinces of Canada and Mexico, but were not found in the Atlantic coastal plain or west of the Rocky Mountains. Since then channel catfish have been widely introduced throughout the United States and the world.

Physical characteristics

Like all native North American catfishes, a channel catfish has a body that is cylindrical in cross-section, and lacks scales. Fins are soft-rayed except for the dorsal and pectoral fins which have sharp, hard spines that can inflict a nasty, painful wound if a catfish is handled carelessly. An adipose fin (lacking rays) is located on the back between the dorsal and caudal fins (Figure 1). One conspicuous characteristic of all catfish is the presence of barbels around the mouth. The barbels are arranged in a definite pattern with four under the jaw and one on each tip of the maxilla (upper jaw).

Habitat

In natural waters, channel catfish live in moderate to swiftly flowing streams, but they are also abundant in large reservoirs, lakes, ponds, and some sluggish streams. They are usually found where bottoms are sand, gravel, or rubble, in preference to mud bottoms. They are seldom found in dense aquatic weeds. Channel catfish are freshwater fish but they can thrive in brackish water.

Feeding

Feeding can occur during day or night, and they will eat a wide variety of both plant and animal material. Channel catfish usually feed near the bottom in natural waters but will take some food from the surface. Based on stomach analysis, young catfish feed primarily on aquatic insects. The adults have a much more varied diet which includes insects, snails, crawfish, green algae, aquatic plants, seeds, and small fish. When available, they will feed avidly on terrestrial insects, and there are even records of birds being eaten. Fish become an important part of the diet for channel catfish larger than 18 inches total length, and in natural waters fish may constitute as much as 75 percent of their diet.

Age and growth

Channel catfish grow best in warm water with optimum growth occurring at temperatures of about 85° F (29.4° C). With each 18° F (10° C) change in temperature there is a doubling or halving of their metabolic rate. This means that within limits, their appetite increases with increasing water temperatures or decreases with decreasing water temperatures. In natural waters, the average size channel catfish caught by fishermen is probably less than 2 to 3 pounds, but the world record of 58 pounds was caught in Santee Cooper Reservoir, South Carolina, in 1964. The size and age that channel catfish reach in natural waters depends on many factors. Age and growth studies have shown that in many natural waters channel catfish do not reach 1 pound in size until they are 2 to 4 years old. One study in the Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri, found that channel catfish did not reach a size of 13 inches total length until they were 8 years old. The maximum age ever recorded for channel catfish is 40 years, whereas most commercially raised catfish are harvested before they are 2 years old.

Water Quality

Water quality preferences and limitations for wild channel catfish are not any different from those of farm-raised channel catfish. The lethal oxygen level for both wild and farm-raised catfish is about 1 ppm, and reduced growth occurs at oxygen concentrations of less than 4 ppm. Channel catfish, in natural waters, are no more tolerant of high levels of ammonia and nitrites than are farm-raised catfish, but are seldom exposed to lethal concentrations of either ammonia or nitrite.

Respiration

Like other animals, channel catfish need oxygen to live.The gills of channel catfish are located on each side of the
A fish breathes by sucking water in through the mouth where it flows directly over the gill filaments and across the lamellae. Blood channeled through the heart has a low oxygen concentration, but at the gill lamellae surface it passes near water high in oxygen. By simple diffusion, oxygen crosses the gill surface and enters the blood where it is carried throughout the fish. Respiration of this type is called counter-current exchange. Simple diffusion of oxygen through the gill lamellae and into the blood occurs because the gill lamellae are extremely thin.