Ictalunis punctatus

Is That a Channel Cat?


The rivers of Wisconsin are home to two species of catfish, the channel catfish and flathead catfish.  To distinguish between these two species, observations of the anal fin can be made.  The anal fin of a channel catfish is convex on the outer edge and is comprised of 24-30* anal rays; compared to the flathead catfish with an anal fin consisting of 14-17* anal rays. 
*These numbers vary slightly between sources.

Courtesy of Duane RiversThe image to the left is of an adult channel catfish.  Adults may vary in body color greatly.  Most have a lightly colored underside of either white or yellow.  Courtesy of WI DNRThe remainder of the channel catfish can vary greatly in color ranging from light grey and brown to dark black and blue.  The texture of a channel catfish is smooth since catfish do not have scales. 


Courtesy of L. M. PageJuvenile channel catfish have the same distinguishable features as the adult.  The deeply forked tail and convex anal ray are both prevalent.  Most juvenile's are lightly pigmented as is the one to the left. 





Channel catfish are equipped with eight barbels around their mouth which provide added sensory information.  Two are found on top of the mouth just below the nostrils, four below the mouth and one on each side of the mouth.  To learn mare about the barbels, see adaptation