Hello Explorers! Welcome to the third week of our Freshwater September Creature of the Week! This week we feature the Blue Catfish. So let's dive right in with this whiskered fish.
The blue catfish, or Ictalurus furcatus, is a North American catfish and happens to be one of the largest. 1 These catfish can grow up to 65 inches and weigh up to a whopping 100+ pounds! 1 However, generally you will see individuals around 20-40 inches and weighing around 40 pounds. 2 The largest blue catfish ever caught was in Greenville, NC and weighed 143 pounds.1 Blue catfish also are long lived. Scientists believe that the blue catfish can live up to 34 years. 2
Besides growing large, blue catfish are distinguished from other fish by their distinct catfish "whiskers" and their slate blue coloration. 3 The whiskers are called barbels and aid catfish in detecting food. 4 Catfish actually have no scales, though some have scutes, which are bony plates. 4 The blue catfish is one of the smooth-skinned catfish. Almost all catfish also have a special secret defense. The leading "spine" on the dorsal fin and pectoral fins of a catfish actually is hollow and strong, acting as a barb in defense. 4 Many catfish actually have venom in these spines. 4 Blue catfish also have the characteristic catfish profile: a flat underside and cylindrical body. 4 Catfish have a reduced swimbladder to reduce their buoyancy, and thus allow them to remain near or on the bottom. 4
Blue catfish, as stated before, are native to North America, mainly in the Mississippi River. 1 They have also been introduced to lakes and rivers in the states along the Atlantic Coastline. 3 These catfish are freshwater and prefer river habitats that consist of deep waters with a sandy bottom and swift currents. 3 The blue catfish feeds primarily on bottom dwellers including crustaceans, insects, mollusks, other fish, and plant materials. 2
Learn more about this cool catfish at the following links