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White Catfish

WHITE CATFISH

SCIENTIFIC NAME: Ameiurus catus

CHARACTERISTICS: The white catfish is distinguished from all other Alabama catfishes by its moderately forked caudal fin and short, large head, the width of which is usually greater than the anal fin length. The lower jaw is substantially shorter than the upper jaw. The anal fin is rounded and contains 22 to 24 rays. Burkhead et al. (1980) note that individuals always have a gap or depression in the "body ridge" running from the head to the dorsal fin origin. The back is generally dark to medium olive or gray, grading to white on the venter. Fins are light gray, often with a darker membrane between rays.

ADULT SIZE: 12 to 18 in (300 to 460 mm). The state angling record (10 lb, 5 oz) was caught in Chambers County Public Lake in 1981.

DISTRIBUTION: Glodek (1979a) maps the native range of white catfish along the Atlantic coast from New York southward through most of Florida and westward across the Mobile basin in Alabama. We found white catfish to be fairly widespread and occasionally abundant in the Chattahoochee drainage, which leads us to suspect that the species is native to the drainage. Its apparently introduced status elsewhere in Alabama is supported by collections of single individuals at only six widely scattered stations: two in the Choctawhatchee River, two in the Tennessee River drainage, and two in the Mobile Delta. Limited numbers of white catfish have also been collected in the Coosa and Tallapoosa river system.

HABITAT AND BIOLOGY: We collected white catfish in streams and small rivers characterized by standing or slow-moving turbid water with sandy and silty substrates. White catfish spawn in South Carolina in June; small fishes and mayflies are primary food items (Stevens, 1959). Carlander (1969) estimates a maximum life span of about 11 years.

ORIGINAL DESCRIPTION: Linnaeus described the white catfish in 1758.

ETYMOLOGY:
Ameiurus means unforked caudal fin.
catus means cat.

The copyrighted information above is from Fishes of Alabama and the Mobile Basin.

Note: In Alabama, it is illegal to stock or move any fish, mussel, snail or crayfish to any public water without a permit.


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