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Blue catfish is one of the largest species of the North American Catfish. The scientific name of this fish has a meaning in Greek, “Ictalurus” means “fish cat” and “furcatus” in Latin means “forked” which is because of the fish’s forked tail fin.
There are some other names of this Blue Catfish.
- Channel Cat
- Hump-back Blue
- High fin blue
- Hi-fin blue
- Mississippi white catfish
- Forked-tailed cat
- Silver cat,
- Great Blue Cat,
- Blue fulton
- Arkansas cat
- Fulton cat
- Cold boarder
Let us read how these fork tailed fishes look like.
Body: The number of rays in the anal fin is usually around thirty to thirty five. They have “barbels” or whiskers in the region around the mouth. Blue Catfish is round with a flat belly. As they grow larger they build up a separate hump on the back near the front of the dorsal fin. They have long anal fin with a straight margin. Their body is heavy with a broad head. The upper jaw comes out much at much a distance from the lower jaw. The internal air bladder has a constriction in the center, which gives it a 2 chambered look.
Skin: Their skin is smooth with no scales.
Color: The color is usually slate blue on the back, with white shading on the belly. Blue Catfish is mostly bluish grey, though they sometimes take on a silvery look.
Size: The size of the Blue Catfish is around 5.5 ft.
Weight: Blue Catfish usually attains the weight of twenty to forty pounds. Sometimes, this species of fish may reach weights of even hundred pounds.
Blue catfishes are inhabitant to major rivers of the Missouri, Ohio and Mississippi river basins. Their range extends in south through Texas, Mexico and towards northern Guatemala.
Blue catfishes are usually large-river fish, living in tributaries, lakes, main channels, reservoirs and banks of major river systems. They are inclined to move upstream during the summers to look for cooler temperatures and move downstream during the winters to find warmer water. They prefer to live in clear and swift waters.
They are found in gravel, over sand or rocky bottoms.
Let us check out the behavioral traits of this huge fish.
- They are known for putting up a good fight and makes things difficult for fishermen.
- Blue cat fish are opportunistic feeders. They are often known to be found eating under schools of striped bass or white bass picking up bait fish.
- They are known to feed heavily in tailraces of dams, picking up wounded, killed or shocked bait fish as it flows through the tailraces of the dams.
- Blue catfish usually seek out deep holes with plentiful cover which provides relief from strong currents. These fishes move up to swift water to feed, mostly at nights.
- They prefer the atmosphere of large rivers and in the deeper areas which have moderate to strong current.
- Blue catfishes are chiefly nocturnal eaters.
- These fishes are easily lured with a wide variety of bait irrespective of the fact whether they are dead or alive.
The diet of the fish mainly consists of live or freshly dead fishes. They are fond of small fish, clams, crayfish, frogs, mussels and insects. Large blue catfish often feeds exclusively on other fishes.
These fishes are one of the apex predators of the marine world.
The most useful baits are shad, Chicken livers, crawfish, shrimp, cut fish, earth worms, small eels, live fish, cheese baits, blood baits, night crawlers. They also take prepared and rotting baits.
Blue Catfish have certain adaptive features.
- Blue Catfishes are fast growers.
- They look for most of their food near the bottom, because they are nocturnal beings.
- Their barbels or whiskers give these fish a strong sense of odour, which plays a key role in looking for food.
- Blue Catfishes are hardy fish which will survive even if they are kept in less favorable environment.
Most blue catfish do not mature sexually till they reach 24 inches in length. The spawning season for Blue catfish runs from June to early July when water temperatures first reach 70 to 75 F. They prefer to spawn in dark, isolated locations alike to those they live in. They mate in the months of April, May and June.
Males and females put in effort together to build a nest before depositing and fertilizing the eggs. These fishes build nest where the eggs are laid. They protect them from predators till the young catfish hatches. Blue Catfish are very productive. A large female can lay up to 20,00,00 eggs and possibly even more than that. They usually roam into more calm waters before building their nest and spawning.
The young are hatched in about a week while the male will guard the young for a week. The fry then swims away and remains on their own.
The young ones feed on aquatic insects and small fish. As they grow up, they develop fancy for crayfish, mussels and other fish.
Till the young ones attain one year, the size of the fishes reach something around 2.25 to 4 inches. Young ones school up after hatching.
Blue Catfish have a lifespan of something between 20 to 30 years.
Blue Catfishes need to be kept in very large aquariums or pond due to their huge size. In an aquarium or pond the water temperature should be between 25 to 28 degrees Celsius. The aquarium or pond should be ornamented with large rocks and the bottom should be covered with sand along with gravel.
Blue Catfish will prefer if the aquarium or pond is decked in such a way where there are hiding places in abundance. Keeping plants are not obligatory. A large filter should be provided to the catfish with adequate water movement.
Blue Catfishes are very easy to feed in aquariums as they will accept crab meat, fish meat, shrimp and mollusks.
Blue Catfish should not be kept with so small fish that they will be devoured. This is because of their predatory nature.
IUCN has not yet evaluated its Conservation Status.
Some very interesting facts are associated with this fish species.
- Blue catfish have a forked tail which looks very similar to Channel catfish.
- Blue Catfish is the largest freshwater sport fish in Texas.
- Blue Catfish are at times fished by hand. This process is called ‘grabbing or noodling.
Take a close look at the pictures of this huge catfish.