Family: Ictaluridae

Genus: 3 or more
While there are many species of catfish across the world, those found locally are most well known for being delicious and easy to come by. These fish will spend most of their time in the muddy banks and shallow burrows within their habitat, earning themselves the nickname “mudcats”
  1. Broad Terminal, or subterminal Mouth
  2. Prominent free adipose fin (this is not a separated dorsal fin)
  3. Barbels or whiskers around the mouth
  4. Body is soft and without scales in most cases
channel catfish
Channel Catfish

Chad Thomas

Channel Catfish
(Ictalurus punctatus)
The channel cat is the most widely cultivated warm water fish species in North America. Male channel cats heads are usually wider than the rest of the body, while females are often as wide or less wide instead. This fish is commonly sold in the aquarium trade, which attributes to its widespread habitat.
Juvenile channel cats possess dark spots at the midsection, and are often silvery in color. This cat has a deeply forked caudal fin and a single very prominent dorsal spine, as well as a rounded anal fin.
blue catfish
Blue Catfish

Chad Thomas

Blue Catfish
(Ictalurus furcatus)
As they reach adulthood most blue catfish will reach a deep blue color moving away from their white or silvery juvenile state. Here in Amistad as well as the Rio Grande, the blue catfish juveniles actually host spots, most of which are retained even into adulthood. The blue cat is seen as a recreationally valuable species due to its hybridization with other cats, creating diversity among fisheries.
The blue cat has a straight edged anal fin, a deeply forked caudal fin, and a thin dorsal spine. Its eye is located closer to its belly than on the other local catfish.
yellow bullhead
Yellow Bullhead

Chad Thomas

Yellow Bullhead
(Ameriurus natalis)
Ameiurus, Greek, meaning “privative curtailed,” refers to the caudal fin lacking a notch; natalis, Latin, meaning “having large buttocks.” This moderately tolerant catfish is found in a variety of ecosystems, but they generally prefer shallow, heavily planted areas, rich with mud and clay. They are somewhat nocturnal, opting to forage and hunt during the night.
Juvenile yellow bullheads are black. They possess emarginate caudal fins instead of forked, which often have a black margin. They also have a much thicker caudal peduncle than most catfish (the area just before the caudal fin).
flathead catfish
Flathead Catfish

Chad Thomas

Flathead Catfish
(Pylodictis olivaris)
The flathead catfish is a concern for many, as it is a fast reproducing obligate carnivore. In 1999 the United States Fish and Wildlife Service named this fish as its highest priority among invasive animal species in the southeastern United States. Luckily it is a popular gamefish as its size can reach up to 3 feet long and weigh over 80 pounds.
The flatheads caudal fin is emarginate, and its anal fin has significantly rays than other local species. The adipose fin is usually larger than similar cats as well.

Last updated: February 11, 2019

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