Iowa DNR
River & Stream Biological Monitoring
Fish and Benthic Macroinvertebrate Surveys
Physical Habitat Assessments

Channel Catfish Ictalurus punctatus

Ictaluridae (Catfishes)
Trophic Class
Top Carnivore
Is Exotic to Iowa?
Is Lithophilous Spawner?
Is Hybrid?
State Listing Status
Not Listed
Assessment Program Statistics

This species was found at 254 bioassessment sites, 3 rapid fish bioassessment sites, 86 fisheries assessment sites, and 0 fisheries presence-only assessment sites. In total, it was collected at 340 distinct sites, or 26.3% of the 1291 total sites monitored by the bioassessment program. It is the 21st most commonly collected species.

The Channel Catfish was collected in 431 bioassessment sampling sessions and 209 fisheries assessment sessions. It was present in 3 rapid bioassessment sessions and 0 presence-only sessions.

The biological assessment program has collected a total of 12,976 individual Channel Catfish specimens, ranking it the #25 most collected fish.

Species Characteristics

Body color varies from silvery-gray on the top to light on the underside, depending mostly on the clarity of the water. The body is marked with dark pigmented spots, which are usually unclear in large adults. Young catfish, under 2- or 3-inches long, often lack these spots. There are 24 to 29 soft rays in the anal fin, and this fin is about two-sevenths the standard length. The posterior margin of the adipose fin is free. The tail is deeply forked, which is unlike all the other catfishes except the Blue Catfish. The eyes are large, but the head is small, slender and sub-conic. The air bladder has two lobes which are laterally paired to look as one at first glance. The upper jaw is slightly longer than the lower jaw.

Species Distribution Map