Channel Catfish Ictalurus punctatus
Two to four pounds is the average size channel catfish that most anglers could expect to find in most waterways. A 20 lb (9 kg) specimen would be spectacular and even a 10 lb (4.5 kg) fish would be admirable, though channel catfish can
top out in the 40-50 lb range. The world
record channel catfish weighed 64 pounds.
Channel Catfish prefer slow to moderate currents and sand or gravel bottoms.
Channel Catfish are the most farmed aquaculture species in the USA.
Channel catfish naturally occurred in central and eastern North America including central Florida. Since I am in central Florida, this species appeals as a native. They are well adapted to the climate and the species can survive much colder climates so I don’t need to worry about keeping
them warm in winter.
Channel Catfish mature between 3 and 8 years of age, the males find a cave or hollow to invite the female to lay her eggs. Then the male stays and guards the eggs, using his tail to fan water over them to keep them oxygenated. I do not yet know how likely it is to get
channel catfish to breed in a backyard scale aquaponics system.
Why Channel Catfish?
As noted above, they are a native fish to my location and therefore well adapted to the climate. They are good eating and easy
to acquire. They are also kinda cute
with those whiskers.
Our climate is subtropical (Central Florida USA.) We are in a fairly hot humid climate but because we are surrounded by water in Florida, the heat is
rarely too extreme in temperature though the hot season is generally long. Come winter we can get frosts and freezes
though the ground does not freeze and cold spells rarely last very long.
Water in an outdoor aquaponics system can easily drop below 50 F during a cold spell here but could be back up to 70 F in a week.
During summer here it would be possible to get water over 90 F and
having shade for the grow beds and fish tanks is a must.
Having an in ground tank to couple with ground temperatures in this climate is very helpful for both summer and winter temperature modification. I’ve
found that this isn’t quite enough for keeping the tilapia happy but it is
enough to support Channel Catfish.