Size20-40 lbs (9-18 kg)
DietMayflies, crayfish, clams, and other fish
HabitatDeep water of rivers and reservoirs
- Blue catfish can reach maximum length of 5.4 feet (165 cm) and weigh 150 lbs. (68 kg). However, it usually weighs 20 to 40 lbs. (9-18 kg).
- Back and upper sides are pale blue to olive or slate gray and it is white ventrally.
- It has white chin barbels, clear or white fins with black borders on the dorsal and caudal fins.
- Its skin is smooth with no scales.
Blue catfish use barbels and sense of smell to locate prey.
- Adult blue catfish preys on mayflies, crayfish, clams and other fish.
- Juvenile feeds primarily on zooplankton.
- This catfish tends to spend time in deep holes to escape constant strong currents, but it will swim up into the current to feed, primarily at night.
- Barbels and sense of smell are used to locate prey.
- Blue catfish is fairly common in North America in the major rivers of the Mississippi, Missouri and Ohio basins, south to Mexico and northern Guatemala.
- Found in deep water of rivers and reservoirs, and in main channels and backwaters of medium to large rivers.
- Prefer swift chutes and current pools and is found to depths of 164 feet (50 m).
- “Not Evaluated” on the IUCN Red List.
- Blue catfish is often mistaken for the channel catfish due to their similar appearance, especially the smaller juveniles. A distinguishing difference between the two species is the anal fin. In blue catfish, this fin has a straight edge while the channel catfish’s anal fin has a convex edge.
- Spawning occurs in spring in dark-water locations. Together the male and female build a nest for the fertilized eggs. Once spawning occurs, the eggs are guarded, predominantly by the male, and within a week the eggs hatch into young catfish. Both parents remain to care for their offspring until the young swim away when they reach between 2 to 4 inches (6-10 cm) in length.
- Considered a game fish.
- Lifespan is unknown, but may exceed 20 years.
- The Fishes of Tennessee. Etnier, D. A. and Starnes, W. C., pgs. 306-307
- Atlas of North American Freshwater Fishes. Lee, D. S., et al., pg. 439
- Peterson Field Guides: Freshwater Fishes. Page, L. M. and Burr, B. M.,