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Ictalurus furcatus  (Valenciennes, 1840)  


irst of all, this is not a fish for the home aquarium as they can grow too big with reports of between 100 and 23 kg (100 and 50 pounds) in weight and a metre (39ins) in length.

Ictalurus furcatus


The "Blue Catfish" is similar to the "Channel Cat", Ictalurus punctatus, and the "White Catfish" Ictalurus catus, but there are a few differences notably in the shape of the anal fin which is longer and a straighter edge than the other two species mentioned with 30-35 rays (I.catus 18-24, I.punctatus 24-30). It also has a different shaped mouth with the upper jaw being longer than the lower. There is also a hump in the head just in front of the dorsal fin.

Ictalurus furcatus = juvenile


Inhabits deep water of impoundments and main channels and backwaters of medium to large rivers, over mud, sand and gravel. Prefers clear, strongly flowing water. This is treated in North America as a favourite food fish and it is said that its flesh is well flavoured.

Ictalurus furcatus = showing straight edged adipose fin
Ictalurus punctatus = showing rounded adipose fin
Ictalurus furcatus = showing straight edged adipose fin
Ictalurus punctatus = showing rounded adipose fin

There are now moves afoot by the U.K. Government through the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAAF) to impose restrictions on some coldwater species like the above mentioned Blue Catfish, due to the dangers of introduction to native waters and the threat to its occupants through disease and predation.

: As of November 1998 in the U. K. you must have a licence to keep the above species. This licence is now issued free, but does take a few months to process. For more information log on to the
DEFRA site. Due to the size attained by this species it is doubtful that they will ever be imported into the U. K.

Anal fin; 1/30-35; Caudal fin deeply forked, upper jaw being longer than the lower.  Hump in head just in front of the dorsal fin. Small eye situated equidistant between the top and bottom of head.

Body bluish to grey above grading to white on sides and belly. Fins light coloured, often with dusky outer margins.

Best to be kept on its own, or in a very large tank with other large catfish that can take care of themselves. Housing with large Cichlids is another possibility. Can get too large for an aquarium when adult so best kept when juvenile.

Spawning takes place in late spring or early summer and the nests are constructed under rocks or caves with the parents guarding the young.

Feeds primarily on fish, crayfish, aquatic insects, fingernail clams, and freshwater mussels.

Ictalurus: Ichthys = fish; ailouros = cat.
furcatus: Forked = alluding to the tail'.


Anal Fin: The fin forward from the anal cavity.

Caudal Fin: The tail.

Dorsal Fin: The primary rayed fin(s) on top of the body



The Audubon Society Field guide to North American Fishes, Whales & Dolphins. Alfred A. Knopf, New York. 848 p.
Robison W. Henry and Buchanan M. Thomas; Fishes of Arkansas. The University of Arkansas Press. 536p.

Smith W. Philip; The Fishes of Illinois; University of Illinois Press 2002. 314p.

Photo Credits

Top picture:      © Paul A.Scharf

Middle Picture: ©  Johnny Jensen's Photographic Library
Factsheet 176

Pimelodus furcatus, Ictalurus meridionalis  
Common Name:
Blue Catfish, Blue Channel Catfish
North America: Major rivers of the Mississippi, Missouri and Ohio basins, south to Mexico and northern Guatemala. Type locality: Mississippi River near St. Louis.
93cm. S.L. (3ft 8ins)
08 -23°C (45-73°F)    
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                                                                                                                                Factsheet 176 = updated December 14, 2018 , © ScotCat 1997-2018 Go to Top