Your gifts support educational programs as well as conservation and research efforts in the region.


Animal Keeper

Animal Keeper Updates

Get a peek behind the scenes of the Aquarium’s Husbandry department. Read their weekly animal updates and get an insider’s look at caring for over 10,000 animals and plants.


Channel Catfish

Ictalurus punctatus

ON EXHIBIT:Nickajack Lake in River Journey

Channel Catfish

The channel catfish is distinguished by their scaleless bodies, broad flat heads, sharp heavy pectoral and dorsal spines, and 4 pairs of long whisker-like barbels about the mouth. They can be distinguished from blue catfish by the dark spots along their body and their rounded anal fin. They possess excellent senses of smell and taste because their entire body is covered in taste buds. These taste buds are especially concentrated on their barbels. They help the channel catfish find food in dark or muddy water with relative ease.

Contrary to popular belief, it is the spines on the dorsal and pectoral fins that sting. The whiskers are harmless. Channel catfish are a great, American aquaculture story. These tasty fish thrive on a vegetarian diet and grow quickly on fish farms.

They are not considered threatened.

Serve & Protect

About This Animal

SIZE: Up to 4 feet long and weigh more than 50 lbs.

RANGE: They are found in all types of freshwater throughout the United States, southern Canada, and northeastern Mexico.

HABITAT: Channel catfish will inhabit all bodies of fresh water -- streams, rivers, ponds, lakes, and reservoirs – and will thrive in nearly any type of water that provides adequate food, spawning and temperature.

DIET:  Their diet consists of aquatic insects, worms, clams, crayfish, snails, and fish.