Stocking Fish Tips: Make sure that any new fish you are planning to add to your tank will be compatible with the current inhabitants. You need to look at temperament, water parameters and tank size requirements. For instance, please don’t put a common pleco in anything under 55 gallons.
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Channel catfish, Ictalurus punctatus, are North America’s most numerous catfish species. They are also the most fished types of catfish, with approximately 8 million anglers in the USA targeting them per year. A member of the Ictalurus genus of American catfishes, channel catfish have a top-end size of approximately 40-50 pounds (18-23 kg). The world record channel catfish weighed 64 pounds and was caught in 1999 in Lake St Clair, Michigan. Realistically, a channel catfish over 20 pounds (9 kg) is a spectacular specimen, and most catfish anglers view a 10 pound (4.5 kg) fish as a very admirable catch. Furthermore the average size channel catfish an angler could expect to find in most waterways would be between 2 and 4 pounds. Channel catfish flesh is prized by many anglers and the popularity of channel catfish for food has allowed the rapid growth of aquaculture of this species throughout the United States.
This combined with the fact that channel catfish will readily scavenge for food explains why cutbaits (fresh cut pieces of fish—usually minnows, shad, herring, sunfish, suckers, etc.) are particularly effective for catching this species of catfish. When removing the hook from a catfish, be careful of the spines on the pectoral fins and dorsal fin. Catfish trapping is regulated in some states. Catfish traps include “slat traps,” long wooden traps with an angled entrance, and wire hoop traps. Typical bait for these traps include rotten cheese and dog food. Catches of as many as 100+ fish a day are common in catfish traps.
Catfish trapping, however, has recently come under media scrutiny due to the recovery process. The inherent nature of a trap means that the fish can be confined to small areas for, at times, up to twenty-four hours before traps are checked. The channel catfish requires a full range of motion in order to perform aerobic respiration, but since this is not possible in many traps the catfish suffocate. Animal rights activists believe that federal regulations for larger trap sizes should be put in place.
Channel catfish are commonly available in the aquarium trade as 3 to 4 inch youngsters. They will readilly consume many other fish species and grow large in tanks, often resulting in either their illegal release or even being eaten by their owners after they reach a large size. They make good scavengers in large tanks with fish such as Plecostomus, Oscars, cichlids, silver dollars, large Goldfish, and other large varieties.