The Nonindigenous Occurrences section of the NAS species profiles has a new structure. The section is now dynamically updated from the NAS database to ensure that it contains the most current and accurate information. Occurrences are summarized in Table 1, alphabetically by state, with years of earliest and most recent observations, and the tally and names of drainages where the species was observed. The table contains hyperlinks to collections tables of specimens based on the states, years, and drainages selected. References to specimens that were not obtained through sighting reports and personal communications are found through the hyperlink in the Table 1 caption or through the individual specimens linked in the collections tables.

Ictalurus punctatus
Ictalurus punctatus
(Channel Catfish)
Native Transplant

Copyright Info
Ictalurus punctatus (Rafinesque, 1818)

Common name: Channel Catfish

Taxonomy: available through www.itis.govITIS logo

Identification: Becker (1983); Page and Burr (1991); Etnier and Starnes (1993); Jenkins and Burkhead (1994).

Size: Maximum size: 127 cm.

Native Range: St. Lawrence-Great Lakes, Hudson Bay (Red River drainage), and Missouri-Mississippi River basins from southern Quebec to southern Manitoba and Montana south to the Gulf. Possibly also native on Atlantic and Gulf slopes from the Susquehanna River to the Neuse River, and from the Savannah River to Lake Okeechobee, Florida, and west to northern Mexico and eastern New Mexico (Page and Burr 1991).

Native range data for this species provided in part by NatureServe NS logo
Hydrologic Unit Codes (HUCs) Explained
Interactive maps: Point Distribution Maps

Nonindigenous Occurrences:

Table 1. States with nonindigenous occurrences, the earliest and latest observations in each state, and the tally and names of HUCs with observations†. Names and dates are hyperlinked to their relevant specimen records. The list of references for all nonindigenous occurrences of Ictalurus punctatus are found here.

StateFirst ObservedLast ObservedTotal HUCs with observations†HUCs with observations†
AZ1880202337Agua Fria; Big Chino-Williamson Valley; Bill Williams; Bouse Wash; Brawley Wash; Canyon Diablo; Centennial Wash; Detrital Wash; Grand Canyon; Grand Wash; Havasu Canyon; Havasu-Mohave Lakes; Imperial Reservoir; Lake Mead; Little Colorado Headwaters; Lower Colorado; Lower Colorado Region; Lower Colorado-Marble Canyon; Lower Gila; Lower Lake Powell; Lower Little Colorado; Lower Salt; Lower San Pedro; Lower Verde; Middle Gila; Middle Gila; Middle Little Colorado; San Francisco; Silver; Tonto; Upper Gila-San Carlos Reservoir; Upper Little Colorado; Upper Salt; Upper San Pedro; Upper Santa Cruz; Upper Verde; Yuma Desert
CA1874202134California Region; Honcut Headwaters-Lower Feather; Imperial Reservoir; Los Angeles; Lower Colorado; Lower Pit; Lower Sacramento; Middle San Joaquin-Lower Chowchilla; Mojave; Owens Lake; Russian; Sacramento-Stone Corral; Salton Sea; San Diego; San Gabriel; San Joaquin; San Joaquin Delta; San Luis Rey-Escondido; San Pablo Bay; Santa Ana; Santa Clara; Santa Margarita; Santa Maria; Seal Beach; Suisun Bay; Tulare Lake Bed; Tulare-Buena Vista Lakes; Upper Cache; Upper Coon-Upper Auburn; Upper Mokelumne; Upper Pit; Upper Sacramento; Upper Yuba; Whitewater River
CO1880201920Animas; Colorado Headwaters; Colorado Headwaters-Plateau; Gunnison; Lower Dolores; Lower Green-Diamond; Lower Gunnison; Lower San Juan-Four Corners; Lower White; Lower Yampa; McElmo; Middle South Platte-Cherry Creek; Piedra; Republican; Rio Grande Headwaters; San Luis; Upper Dolores; Upper Green-Flaming Gorge Reservoir; Upper San Juan; Upper White
CT196020183Housatonic; New England Region; Outlet Connecticut River
DE197620177Brandywine-Christina; Broadkill-Smyrna; Chincoteague; Delaware Bay; Mid Atlantic Region; Nanticoke; Upper Chesapeake
DC201020212Middle Potomac-Anacostia-Occoquan; Middle Potomac-Catoctin
FL198919891Cape Canaveral
GA197120206Altamaha; Altamaha; Savannah; South Atlantic-Gulf Region; Upper Ocmulgee; Upper Oconee
HI195320145Hawaii; Hawaii Region; Kauai; Maui; Oahu
ID1890201135American Falls; Bear Lake; Beaver-Camas; Big Wood; Brownlee Reservoir; C.J. Strike Reservoir; Clearwater; Coeur d'Alene Lake; Goose; Hells Canyon; Idaho Falls; Kootenai; Lake Walcott; Little Wood; Lower Bear; Lower Bear-Malad; Lower Boise; Lower Kootenai; Lower Salmon; Lower Snake-Asotin; Middle Bear; Middle Kootenai; Middle Snake-Succor; North Fork Payette; Pacific Northwest Region; Payette; Pend Oreille; Pend Oreille Lake; Priest; Salmon Falls; Spokane; St. Joe; Upper Snake-Rock; Upper Spokane; Weiser
ME200120011St. George-Sheepscot
MD1949202214Cacapon-Town; Chincoteague; Choptank; Conococheague-Opequon; Gunpowder-Patapsco; Lower Potomac; Lower Susquehanna; Middle Potomac-Catoctin; Monocacy; Patuxent; Potomac; Severn; Tangier; Upper Chesapeake
MA197820052Ashuelot River-Connecticut River; Charles
MN200020126Crow; Elk-Nokasippi; Sauk; South Fork Crow; Twin Cities; Upper Mississippi-Crow-Rum
MO199419941Lake of the Ozarks
MT198819881Flathead Lake
NV1937201814Carson Desert; Central Lahontan; Havasu-Mohave Lakes; Imperial Reservoir; Ivanpah-Pahrump Valleys; Lake Mead; Las Vegas Wash; Little Humboldt; Lower Humboldt; Lower Virgin; Middle Carson; Muddy; Pyramid-Winnemucca Lakes; Truckee
NJ190520218Cohansey-Maurice; Crosswicks-Neshaminy; Hackensack-Passaic; Lower Delaware; Mid Atlantic Region; Mid-Atlantic Region; Middle Delaware-Musconetcong; Raritan
NM1957201914Chaco; Cimarron Headwaters; Middle San Juan; Mimbres; Rio Grande-Albuquerque; Rio Grande-Santa Fe; San Francisco; Upper Gila; Upper Gila-Mangas; Upper Pecos; Upper Pecos-Long Arroyo; Upper San Juan; Upper San Juan; Zuni
NY198620214Chenango; Hudson-Wappinger; Lower Hudson; Upper Susquehanna
NC1920202335Albemarle; Black; Cape Fear; Chowan; Contentnea; Deep; Fishing; Haw; Lower Cape Fear; Lower Catawba; Lower Dan; Lower Neuse; Lower Pee Dee; Lower Roanoke; Lower Tar; Lower Yadkin; Lumber; Middle Neuse; Neuse; Northeast Cape Fear; Pamlico; Pamlico Sound; Roanoke; Rocky; South Yadkin; Upper Broad; Upper Cape Fear; Upper Catawba; Upper Dan; Upper Neuse; Upper Pee Dee; Upper Pee Dee; Upper Tar; Upper Yadkin; Waccamaw
OR1889201326Beaver-South Fork; Brownlee Reservoir; Bully; Goose Lake; Lower Deschutes; Lower John Day; Lower Malheur; Lower Owyhee; Lower Willamette; Middle Columbia-Hood; Middle Columbia-Lake Wallula; Middle Snake-Payette; Middle Willamette; Molalla-Pudding; Pacific Northwest; Siletz-Yaquina; Tualatin; Umatilla; Umpqua; Upper Grande Ronde; Upper Klamath Lake; Upper Malheur; Upper Rogue; Upper Willamette; Walla Walla; Willamette
PA196620236Crosswicks-Neshaminy; Lower Delaware; Lower Susquehanna; Lower Susquehanna; Susquehanna; West Branch Susquehanna
PR193820215Cibuco-Guajataca; Culebrinas-Guanajibo; Eastern Puerto Rico; Puerto Rico; Southern Puerto Rico
SC1951201924Broad-St. Helena; Carolina Coastal-Sampit; Congaree; Cooper; Lake Marion; Little Pee Dee; Lower Broad; Lower Catawba; Lower Pee Dee; Lumber; Lynches; Middle Savannah; North Fork Edisto; Salkehatchie; Saluda; Santee; Santee; Seneca; Stevens; Tyger; Upper Broad; Upper Savannah; Waccamaw; Wateree
TX195919591East Galveston Bay
UT1880201929Duchesne; Escalante Desert-Sevier Lake; Hamlin-Snake Valleys; Jordan; Lower Bear-Malad; Lower Dolores; Lower Green; Lower Green-Desolation Canyon; Lower Green-Diamond; Lower Lake Powell; Lower San Juan; Lower San Juan-Four Corners; Lower Sevier; Lower Weber; Lower White; McElmo; Middle Bear; Middle Sevier; Price; San Pitch; Upper Bear; Upper Colorado-Dirty Devil; Upper Colorado-Kane Springs; Upper Green-Flaming Gorge Reservoir; Upper Lake Powell; Upper Virgin; Upper Weber; Utah Lake; Westwater Canyon
VA1969202330Albemarle; Appomattox; Chowan; Hampton Roads; James; Kanawha; Lower Chesapeake; Lower Dan; Lower James; Lower Potomac; Lower Rappahannock; Mattaponi; Middle James-Buffalo; Middle James-Willis; Middle Potomac-Anacostia-Occoquan; Middle Potomac-Catoctin; Middle Roanoke; North Fork Shenandoah; Pamunkey; Potomac; Rapidan-Upper Rappahannock; Rivanna; Roanoke; Roanoke Rapids; Shenandoah; South Fork Shenandoah; Upper Dan; Upper James; Upper Roanoke; York
WA1892201932Banks Lake; Chief Joseph; Colville; Duwamish; Lake Chelan; Lake Washington; Lewis; Lower Columbia-Clatskanie; Lower Columbia-Sandy; Lower Cowlitz; Lower Crab; Lower Grande Ronde; Lower Skagit; Lower Snake; Lower Snake; Lower Snake-Tucannon; Lower Yakima; Middle Columbia-Hood; Middle Columbia-Lake Wallula; Nisqually; Nooksack; Okanogan; Pacific Northwest Region; Palouse; Puget Sound; San Juan Islands; Snohomish; Strait of Georgia; Upper Columbia-Entiat; Upper Columbia-Priest Rapids; Upper Yakima; Walla Walla
WI195419833Manitowoc-Sheboygan; Upper Rock; Wolf
WY188019957Big Horn; Blacks Fork; Little Snake; North Platte; Upper Green-Flaming Gorge Reservoir; Upper Green-Slate; White - Yampa

Table last updated 7/22/2024

† Populations may not be currently present.

Means of Introduction: Intentionally stocked for sport fishing and food. The first introductions in the Colorado River took place in 1892-1893 or in 1906 (Miller and Alcorn 1946). They had become established throughout the Colorado basin by the early 1900s (Holden and Stalnaker 1975). The earliest stocking record for the Yampa River is from 1944 and involved 34,200 fingerling catfish (Tyus 1998). The introductions into Silver Lake and the Charles River in Massachusetts involved albino fish from the aquarium trade (Cardoza et al. 1993).

Status: Established in most waters where introduced.

Impact of Introduction: The Channel Catfish hybridizes with the threatened Yaqui catfish I. pricei in Mexico (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 1994). Colorado pikeminnow Ptychocheilus lucius, an endangered species, have been documented to choke on introduced Channel Catfish when attempting to eat them (McAda 1983; Pimental et al. 1985; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 1990). Jenkins and Burkhead (1994) speculated that introduced Channel Catfish may have contributed to the demise of an isolated population of trout-perch Percopsis omiscomaycus in the Potomac River in Virginia and Maryland. Introduced Channel Catfish may exert a major negative effect on populations of various endangered species. For instance, this species is known to prey on small and large endangered humpback chub Gila cypha in the Little Colorado River thereby limiting recruitment and also increasing adult mortality (Marsh and Douglas 1997). There is also evidence that this introduced catfish preys heavily on juveniles of razorback sucker Xyrauchen texanus that had been reintroduced into the Gila River of Arizona (Marsh and Brooks 1989). Introduced predatory fishes, including the Channel Catfish, may be partially responsible for the decline of the Chiricahua leopard frog Rana chiricahuensis in southeastern Arizona (Rosen et al. 1995) and have been shown to reduce the abundance and diversity of native prey species in several Pacific Northwest rivers (Hughes and Herlihy 2012).

Channel Catfish predation on crayfish resulted in a great loss of crayfish density in mesocosm experiments, and is likely the cause of native crayfish population decline in natural habitats where the Channel Catfish has been introduced (Adams 2007).

Remarks: Tyus et al. (1982) gave a distribution map for this species in the upper Colorado basin. Channel Catfish have also been stocked in many native areas including Arkansas (Robison and Buchanan 1988); Illinois (Burr, personal communication); Nebraska (Jones 1963). Harlan et al. (1987) stated that stocking in Iowa has widened this species' distribution. Cross and Collins (1995) mapped the species in every county in Kansas. Cross (1967) indicated a much more restricted distribution in the state and did not include every county. Presumably the more recent map indicates the species had been introduced to new locations since the 1967 publication. Cross (1967) also stated that it had been stocked in many lakes and ponds in the state.  Griffiths (1939) reported that the Channel Catfish was found in the ladders of the Bonneville Dam but no specimens were obtained. If introduction did occur it is though that they were unsuccessful.

According to Springsteen (2010), the Channel Catfish was the first species to be raised in commercial aquaculture for food purposes in the US.  Before that point, other species including tilapia and carp were raised in Egypt and China for sport.  The species was farmed in the Mississippi Delta region during the 1950s.

References: (click for full references)

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Burr, B. - Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, IL. 1995.

Cross, F. B. 1967. Handbook of Fishes of Kansas. State Biological Survey and University of Kansas Museum of Natural History, Miscellaneous Publication 45, Topeka, KS.

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Etnier, D. A., and W. C. Starnes. 1993. The fishes of Tennessee. University of Tennessee Press, Knoxville, TN.

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Hartel, K. E. 1992. Non-native fishes known from Massachusetts freshwaters. Occasional Reports of the Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University, Fish Department, Cambridge, MA. 2. September. pp. 1--9.

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Other Resources:
FishBase Summary

Author: Pam Fuller, and Matt Neilson

Revision Date: 10/4/2019

Peer Review Date: 5/29/2012

Citation Information:
Pam Fuller, and Matt Neilson, 2024, Ictalurus punctatus (Rafinesque, 1818): U.S. Geological Survey, Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL, https://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/factsheet.aspx?SpeciesID=2341, Revision Date: 10/4/2019, Peer Review Date: 5/29/2012, Access Date: 7/22/2024

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Citation information: U.S. Geological Survey. [2024]. Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database. Gainesville, Florida. Accessed [7/22/2024].

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