Catfish of the Month Right Arrow January 1998

Channel Catfish, Getuepfelter Gabelwels (Germany), Plettet Dværgmalle (Denmark) - Ictalurus punctatus   (Rafinesque, 1818)

Article © Julian Dignall, uploaded January 01, 1998.

Channel catfish are a multi-faceted fish if ever there was one. Aside from being readily available as 2" juveniles to unwary novices, they can also be found on the menus of most Southern United States eateries. To this end these fish are farm bred in large numbers (it is in fact a major industry). The fish pictured above is the more commonly available (to aquarists, not gourmets) albino variety.

I have often encountered this fish for sale in amongst goldfish. Unscrupulous dealers will pass of this fish as "the ideal coldwater scavenger", which is utterly incorrect in every conceivable way. The fish is a predator, not a scavenger, will not take coldwater (to level of being wintered outside in a Scottish pond) and "ideal" is not really a word applicable to a fish likely to grow larger than the tank it is being offered for sale in! In more gentle climes this fish is suited to ponds, but not around these parts!

This all sounds rather negative, but in the channel cats defence, it is probably the cheapest, most hardy and arguably active of all the big cats (perhaps alongside Pangasius or Arius sp.). They are great pets, full of inquisitiveness and energy and will soon learn to react to your presence around the tank. Just don't keep them with goldfish and start making space for that 8ft tank in the garage!

Copyright information for the images used in this article can be found on the species' full Cat-eLog page.

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