Introduction

Channel catfish, Ictalurus punctatus, is a member of the catfish family Ictaluridae. The larger members of the catfish family blue catfish (Ictalurus furcatus) and flathead catfish (Pylodictus olivarus) are important commercial and sport fish. The Ictaluridae family also includes the white catfish (Ameiurus catus), bullheads (Ameuirus sp.), and madtoms (Noturus sp.). Catfish as a group are morphologically distinguished from other fish by their scaleless bodies, broad flat heads, a single spine in the front of each dorsal and pectoral fin, a small adipose fin between the tail and dorsal fin, and long barbells above and below the mouth. Catfish are omnivores, usually nocturnal, and generally locate feed by taste and touch through the numerous taste and sensory cells located along the barbells and other external skin areas. Catfish spawn or deposit their eggs in nests, which are generally shoreline or bottom cavities and depressions. All catfish species are considered benthic fish and inhabit a wide range of stream, river, lake, and pond habitats.

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