Characteristics And Geographic Distribution

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Channel catfish is the most widely utilized catfish species for commercial production.1-1-3-1 The native range originally was from the Great Lakes and Sakatchewan River southward to the Gulf of Mexico, but introductions have greatly increased the distribution for both sport fishing and aquaculture. Coloration is white on the belly (ventrum), silver to gray on the sides, and gradually darkening to almost black on the top (dorsum) (Fig. 1). Albinism, caused by a single recessive gene, can be common in commercial culture and the aquarium industry, but is rare in nature.

Commercial production of channel catfish began more than 40 years ago and has become one of the most successful aquaculture enterprises in the United States.[4] Major processors processed more than 630 million pounds of catfish in 2002.[5] A recent survey reported 174,900 acres of ponds in production in the four major producing states of Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi.1-6-1 Mississippi leads all states with 106,000 acres, followed by Arkansas (33,500 acres), Alabama (26,000 acres), and Louisiana (9400 acres). The sustained growth of the catfish industry is due to increased per capita consumption of seafood products, development of an effective industry infrastructure, successful marketing, and research support.

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