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FAQs on Ictalurid Cats

Related Articles: Ictalurid CatfishesColdwater Catfishes, Pondfish Profile by Neale Monks,

Related Catfish FAQs:  Identification, Behavior, Compatibility, Selection, Systems, Feeding, Disease, Reproduction

"Please release me... let me go...."

my beautiful catfish   10/14/12
i have a pond spotted catfish for a year now in a aquarium my husband keeps pestering me to let her go i want to now will she die if i put her in a pond. she rubs her head in palm of my hand. thanks so much for listening Maria Fay
<Please don't release this Catfish to the wild Maria... there could be real issues w/ spreading disease, and the fish would miss you likely as you'd miss it. Bob Fenner>
re: my beautiful catfish

thank you so much for taking the time to answer me i feel the same way and she is healthy, and high spirited when u talk to some one about this they think its crazy and say its just a fish. but when i was 14yrs i raised a possum had him for yrs till he died so i have never claimed to be right anyway i tell them. thanks Maria Fay
<Welcome; thank you for sharing. BobF>

I have two speckled catfish from a pond had since the were real small... whacky    3/16/12
My speckled catfish I have had for 7 or 8 months they were less than inch long my husband was using some baby's for bait but mother instincts even for a fish I love them both but recently I had to change the tank and one of them is bigger than the other. now she is a real bitch she is actually  hurting him he has bad places on back and side noticed it before it is to bad but I have no idea how to make her big head stop.
<Eats bushes leaves. Where's your grammar?>
 Everyone calls me crazy because I call them to top and they will let me rub there head but it didn't matter what they thought I raised a vision when I was younger.
 But please help I want to hit her on the head it upsets me. Do you have any suggestions other than you think I'm nuts to .thank you Maria Fay
<Uh... what species of Catfish is this? What re system, water quality, foods/feeding, perhaps a good (clear) photo of what you're referring to see the cat I know a rock thank you. Bob Fenner> 

Weird Catfish Behavior 11/16/11
<Hello Trent>
I have an Albino Channel Catfish probably a little over a foot long in a 125 gallon aquarium, sand substrate, external Jebo filter. Good ph and everything. My question is why he will give a little body twitch and then swim back and forth darting at the bottom to swipe his side on the sand every one in awhile? It just strikes me as odd. So any help would be awesome! Thanks
<Mmm, some twitching is "natural", but a bunch... May well be due to accumulated metabolite. One window for looking at such is measuring nitrate... Is yours more than 10-20 ppm? If so, you need to increase percentage and/or shorten time frames twixt water changes, increase filtration, utilize chemical filtrants... See WWM re NO3. Bob Fenner>

Pregnant Catfish   8/25/11
My children caught a small catfish in a local pond a few months ago and then recently caught another one. After several weeks, one died but now we notice that that smaller one appears to have a big belly and is hiding in her cave. I assume she is pregnant.
<No, she's not. They're all egg-layers
. Females may swell up somewhat before egg-laying, but not dramatically so. Feeding should be modest, the odd earthworm or piece of white fish fillet, but not daily, and only enough for the catfish to have a slightly rounded belly, not enough for it to look bloated!>
How long are they pregnant for, how many eggs might they lay and what can I do to facilitate it. Also, do you have any suggestions for what to do with the eggs (I assume there will be many) after they hatch. I'm not sure exactly what kind of catfish she is.
<A picture will help. Are you in North America somewhere? Few North American catfish make good aquarium pets, and some are virtually impossible to maintain in home aquaria because they're so big. If this fish hasn't been exposed to any pet fish, I'd be tempted to return it. The little Noturus species are okay, but Ictalurus and Ameiurus are much too big and aggressive.
Do be sure to read here:
Don't keep North American catfish with any other fish! Look what happened to that poor Goldfish!>
Thanks for your help.
<Your local Fish & Wildlife office will provide more specific help. I don't encourage children to take fish home as pets for all sorts of ethical and practical reasons, though I do applaud your intention to ensure these catfish do well. 'North American Native Fishes for the Home Aquarium' by David M. Schleser is a very useful book if you want to keep native fish species. It's been out of print a while, but any library can get a copy without problems. Cheers, Neale.>

fish help   4/1/11
can you please help?
<Can try.>
I am vary worried.
<Oh dear!>
I have a 7 inch bullhead catfish that acts like it is gasping for air.
<Likely exactly what it's doing.>
is this normal?
<No. But let's recap. A 7-inch Bullhead catfish should have a large aquarium, realistically 350 litres/75 gallons, and the aquarium should be extremely well filtered, because Bullheads normally come from fast-flowing streams rather than swamps. I'd say a turnover rate of 8 times the volume of the tank per hour, so a 75 gallon aquarium needs an 8 x 75 = 600 gallons/hour. Water temperature shouldn't be extreme in either direction, around 18 C/64 F is ideal, though cooler water is okay in winter, as is slightly warmer water in summer. Feeding should be moderate so that the water quality is maintained. Obviously never live feeder fish for the serious reasons we've explained a hundred times before here at WWM, but instead things like earthworms, krill, and, sparingly, standard aquarium catfish pellets. Do read:
please help.thanks-wayne
<Hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.>

N. Am. Catfish sys. /Molly incomp. help!  2/11/10
Hello :)
I have been reading a lot of your articles about fish lately and have been helped extremely by them.
I do however still need your help.
I went out to the creek one day to throw the cast net and caught 3 perch, and one very cute baby mud catfish (about an inch.)
<Do bear in mind that in North America at least, most perch-like fish and almost all catfish grow into large, predatory animals.>
I have a 100 gallon tank in storage and decided to keep them in the water that I caught them in in a 10 gallon tank overnight until I got it out the next day.
<Hmm... 10 gallon tanks aren't usually good for anything other than very tiny, Neon-sized animals.>
The perch died that night, I'm pretty positive it was from being in the cramped conditions and lack of oxygen from them moving around.
<I would agree. Perca flavescens, and it's Eurasian relative Perca fluviatilis, are both superb aquarium fish with lovely colours, but they are adapted to quite clear, clean water. To be fair, they don't come from fast-flowing water, but they do need good quality, oxygen-rich water.>
The baby catfish was swimming around the top looking like he was "gasping" for air, his underside around his head and mouth were pink.
<How were you filtering, aerating this aquarium?>
I immediately discarded the dead fish and did an almost all but not quite water change. He quit "gasping" at the top and the redness around his mouth/ underside went away almost immediately.
<Catfish certainly are resilient!>
I bought a 55 gallon tank to put the catfish in because I didn't want to set up the 100 gallon until I needed it. The catfish has been doing very well in his new tank located in the garage. It's been about forty degrees outside so I have made sure to keep it heated (it's at about 74 right now)
I also have all of the amenities i.e. filter, air pump, a lot of plants in it for hiding spaces, but quickly found myself bored with the appearingly vacant tank.
<Now, you do need to be careful here. During the winter, fish will be adapted to cool conditions. Even if it seems cold to you, it's just right for the fish living there. You can easily kill a fish from a cold pond or stream (let's say a water temperature of 10 degrees C, 50 degrees F) indoors to an unheated tank at room temperature (around 18 C, 68 F). So if it's cold outdoors, you have to keep your fish cold once you bring them home. This is one reason why native fish collection is best done in summer.
It's easier to keep a fish collected in summer at room temperature all year around than it is to "warm up" a winter collected fish to indoor conditions.>
A month later I decided to get another fish to perk up place and for some reason got a Pleco.
<You're mixing tropical fish with native fish. Why? This doesn't usually work.>
Him also being a fish that wasn't too exciting, I decided to go and get four mollies (one male three female.)
<Catfish food, plus the fact Mollies generally need very warm, brackish water to do well. They're an appalling bad choice for this aquarium.>
I didn't know a lot about them and thought that they were going to be an easy fish to take care of as suggested by the person who worked there.
<He knows nothing.>
When one of my mollies had babies I started doing some research to figure out how to take care of them.
<Not a moment too soon...>
One thing that I had found to be very important on your website was that mollies weren't as fish compatible as made out to be and your repeated advise to use marine aquarium salt.
<Yes. it isn't essential, but it sure makes them easier to keep. Without the benefits of salinity and increased hardness that marine salt mix provides, Mollies tend to be disease-prone.>
So here I am with a now with a five inch catfish, a Pleco, four mollies, and about thirty fry.
I can't mix salt into that equation and really just need to separate them based on their needs.
<Actually, common Plec species including Pterygoplichthys pardalis are quite tolerant of brackish water, being found in places like brackish water ditches and canals in Florida. To be fair, they don't tolerant a lot of salt, but 3-5 grammes of marine salt mix per litre will be well within their tolerances, and should be enough to help the Mollies.>
I set up my ten gallon tank with a filter, heater, air pump, and a lot of plants for the fry. I used eighty percent water from the 55gal. tank since that is what they had been living in but the tank hasn't had a chance to cycle.
<There's no magic to "old water". Much, MUCH better to do regular water changes, flushing out at least 25% per week. Mollies in particular are very sensitive to nitrate, and old water will do far more harm than good.>
I noticed one of the fry looked like it had the shimmies (it's swimming fast on the bottom of the tank without really moving) but I'm not really sure because I've never seen this problem before... on line research.
<Yes, this is the Shimmies.>
Another was swimming then would randomly do a nose-dive/roll maneuver. I did go and add some instant ocean since they are in a tank of their own and it won't hurt other fish. How much is best to use?
<See above.>
I have read a lot of conflicting answers. As for my fifty-five gallon tank, I really want to add the salt set up as well but need to wait until I get the catfish and pluck out of it.
<Some catfish are reasonably tolerant of brackish water, and there are in fact species that live in the sea. In the case of Giant Sailfin Mollies, you can mix these rather well with Colombian Shark Catfish.>
Do you think it's best to wait until my 100 gallon tank is cycled before moving them in there?
<I'd recommend you keep a coldwater tank for the native catfish, and a tropical tank for the Mollies. Which size tank becomes which depends on the catfish you've got. Some North American cats are fairly small, but many of
them are gigantic things, easily reaching 60 cm/2 feet under aquarium conditions.>
Not to be harsh but if I had to chose saving one of the fish, I'd definitely take the cat.
I'm just afraid to put him in water that is too new.
<Irrelevant. What matters is the maturity of the filter, not the water.
Provided each tank has a mature biological filter (one that's been running for at least a month) the age of the water couldn't matter less.>
One last question :) My catfish has a log that he LOVES to hide in, but unfortunately it was beginning to become a little small. So when I did this most recent water change (20%) I also upgraded him to bigger version of this log. All of the fish seem fine except for him. At first he hid behind the back of a prop that I have in the tank which wasn't surprising to me since he had just been robbed of his most comforting possession.
I left the tank alone for a while in the dark to not further any stress, but then I couldn't find him at all. I found him wedging himself up inside that prop at the top to almost "hang on" to hide (it didn't look natural or comfortable.)
<Move the coldwater catfish to his own home, pronto. A major problem with cats is when they wedge themselves behind heaters, burning themselves. Look out for burns on the flanks.>
Now he is doing circles around the side of the tank and his underside is looking a little pink (maybe from "hanging on" to the wall?) just like when I first got him. It's freaking me out. I don't know if it's just because he doesn't have his tight squeeze of a hiding space any more or if that's a sign of something worse. Any ideas? I would really hate to lose that fish.
<Difficult to say without knowing what the catfish is, how warm the water is, what the water chemistry is, and above all what the water quality is. Assuming a North American catfish like Noturus spp., then you need cool
water (room temperature, preferably in an unheated room, less than 18 C); middling water chemistry (pH 6.5-8, 5-20 degrees dH); and most critically, 0 ammonia and 0 nitrite. Get those things sorted, and your cat should settle down.>
Thank you and sorry about the length!
<Cheers, Neale.>

Goldfish suffering! Ictalurid incomp.  -- 01/30/10
The Situation- Goldfish suffering from severe ammonia burns over body.
<Well, that's easy enough to diagnose. Black, discoloured patches on the body. But I'm not seeing that in your image. Looks more like a Goldfish that's been attacked. I wonder what he's living with...>
My family has had a 29 gallon fish tank for about 2 years with one large common goldfish that we've had for about 5 years in various sizes of tanks and a yellow bullhead caught as a fingerling in a nearby lake about a year ago. The bullhead, has, as it should, grown to about 11 inches in length and the goldfish is about six inches in total length.
<Right. So you have a Goldfish in with a voracious carnivore twice its size. Hmm... I wonder...>
We kept this tank without paying much attention to any of the rules of fish keeping, and for a while, this worked out fine, but then one day I went to feed the fish, and the goldfish looked horrible.
<I'll say!>
Over night he seemed to have lost about a quarter of his scales and his fins were all shredded and his clear skin hanging off in shreds all over him. I was panicked and at first thought that somehow the bull head had attacked him, but following some much belated internet and book research I believe that poor water quality is most likely to blame as the bio load increased as the size of the fish increased.
<No! Your Ameiurus natalis is precisely to blame here, especially if suddenly overnight the Goldfish looked bedraggled. Be clear on this, Ameiurus natalis is a NOCTURNAL carnivore.>
Considering the size and types of fish being kept in the tank, the ammonia levels were probably at a constant high for quite some time, and the goldfishes immune system finally couldn't keep up anymore.
<Conceivably, but Finrot doesn't do this to a fish overnight. You need something bigger to mangle a Goldfish like this that mere bacteria. Like a BIG PREDATOR!>
Anyways, the bullhead moved out into a temporary 20 gallon Sterilite container until its warm enough outside to release him back in the lake.
<DO NOT release into the wild, please. Not only is it against the law, but it is also how diseases and parasites carried by pet fish end up in the wild. Your local Fish & Wildlife bureau would have kittens if they thought you were about to do this. Putting him in a pond in a garden is fine, but do not place him anywhere he's likely to get into native waters. The US has some outstanding wildlife; why should a moment of thoughtlessness put that at risk? Either keep the catfish, rehome it, or humanely destroy it. Returning to the wild IS NOT an option.>
I did 2 70 percent water changes for the goldfish, about 5 hours apart, bought some water test strips and made sure that he had good water quality. We use an aqua-tech power filter made for 20-40 gallon aquariums and I have never changed out the bio filter and only rinsed it in aquarium water a few times as per the instructions on the package.
About an hour after all this, I tested the water with my new test strips (from "jungle"-, I think) and came up with:
Ammonia- 0
PH- 8.0-8.4
Total alkalinity- 120ppm-180 ppm
Chlorine- 0
Hardness- 0-25 very soft
<Actually, Goldfish prefer hard water, but your carbonate hardness is reasonably high, so this probably isn't a killer issue.>
Nitrite- 0
Nitrate 0-20
As far as I can tell from the packaging on the strips, this is ideal for freshwater.
<Depends on the freshwater fish being kept, but broadly, yes.>
Now, I am wondering what else I should do for the poor fellow. He has brightened up considerably with the better water, but his shredded fins and lumpy bare skin and blisters look horribly painful and I am afraid he will get an infection and die. I don't just want to load up the tank with antibiotics because I don't want to mess up the bio filter (thank God I followed the instructions on the filter package and never removed it or tried to wash it, so I'm pretty sure the tank is properly cycled after two years!) and subsequently subject my poor fish to bad water quality again. I have read several different approaches to caring for recovering fish, and am just confused about the best way to proceed. A few websites I perused seemed to be in favor of diverting the filter and treating the tank with an antibiotic for a few days, one seemed to favor salting the tank, and a book I looked into suggested doing nothing but maintaining good water quality. I am all in favor of the last, as I don't want to overdose my fish or kill of the good bacteria and am leery of using salt as I have read that can also stress out the biofilter. The fish is active and his fins are erect when he swims, so I don't think he is sick with an infection, per se, just injured. As I have only recently decided to become fish-savvy, I would greatly appreciate input from someone with more experience! I think I know what I'm doing now, but sometimes it makes a body feel better to have someone who really does know give a little input! I'm really attached to this fish!
Thank you!
PS- I am going to attempt to attach a photo of my poor goldfish and also of the bull-head, as I think he is a very interesting fish.
<Poor Goldfish is the operative phrase here! You're keeping a leopard and a lamb in the same cage, and wondering why the lamb looks nervous. Cheers, Neale.>

Muggee, Mugger

Re: Goldfish suffering!   1/31/2010
Thank you very much!
<Happy to help.>
I won't be keeping bullheads with any other fish anymore, believe me!
<Okay. I used to keep a pet Channel Catfish, Ictalurus punctatus, in a tank with a gar and a variety of large Central American cichlids. Worked rather well. These are nice catfish. But you do need to choose tankmates wisely,
and the aquarium should be of suitable size.>
As for the bullhead, we know someone with a garden pond and some much bigger fish who can take him in the spring. His species is actually native to our area, and we caught him from a lake here, but we'll be making sure
he goes into a garden pond just in case he's carrying some strange aquarium bacteria.
<Sounds like a nice home. Glad you're not going to put America's fish fauna at risk!>
Thank you again, and hopefully our little "lamb" will make a full recovery and his nightmares will diminish!
<So do I. Good luck! Neale.>

Albino Channel Cat (Catfish), sel./use in ornamental ponds   12/4/08 I live in Southern New Jersey. I have the opportunity to buy a 18 inch Albino Channel Cat (Catfish - $30.00), will he survive in our outdoor pond with our goldfish ? ( the gold fish are breeding, so I know they are doing well - no heater which the Cat is use to) Thank you for you help. Bob <Ictalurus sp. generally make extremely poor pond residents. Not only do they get enormous (potentially over 130 cm, about 4 feet) they spend all their time at the bottom of the pond, hidden from view. So if you want to keep a huge fish you won't see, that will put a major strain on water quality, and will very likely eat some of the Goldfish as well as all of the interesting wildlife (frogs, dragonflies, etc.) in your pond, then go ahead. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Albino Channel Cat (Catfish)   12/10/08 Tank you. I did not get the Catfish. <Probably a wise decision! Cheers, Neale.>

Mystery fish!! :)   8/29/08
Hi, Bob! I just want to start by saying that your website is awesome. VERY helpful for my indoor and outdoor fishies! If I can afford to donate, I definitely will in the future.
About my little Mystery Fish, This albino catfish appeared out of thin air in my Koi pond (the tiny plastic Kidney shaped kind. Well, This fish at 2 yrs, is already a foot long!
By looking over your catfish page, I think that my little Moby Dick cat is an Albino Channel catfish?
I'd love reassurance though from you before I go digging up my yard to fit in a bigger pond or start begging aquariums to take him.
I'd really love to keep him since he found his way somehow into MY pond! Don't tell anyone, but, I think he can fly!! Shhhh! hehehe ;) Really though, I'd love to know how he got here! Any ideas?
Bird poop is my guess?
<Dropped by the same... carrying it... in claws, regurgitated... is mine>
As gross is that is..there are streams down the street from me. So if you have some free time, please take a look at this picture and let me know what you think and I thank you!
Oh, I live in Decatur (Atlanta) GA..if Geography helps you to narrow down the breed?
Thank you for your help!,
~Brooke Johnson
PS: If I emailed you twice, my apologies. I botched the first one and didn't think that it went through.
<Mmm, is this: http://aqualandpetsplus.com/Catfish,%20Channel.htm
Cheers, Bob Fenner>

New Channel Cat -- 11/13/07 My Husband brought home a foot-long Channel Cat that was up for adoption. Is it possible to over-winter him (the catfish, not my husband) in an outdoor pond? We live in Texas, in the Dallas Fort Worth area where temperatures can dip below freezing in Winter. The pond holds 600 gallons of water, it's more of a circular tank than a pond, approx. 3.5 feet deep and 4 feet across. Will I have to add a heater? If so, how big does it have to be? Thanks for the information. Regards, Laura <Laura, yes, you can keep Ictalurus spp. catfish in deep outdoor ponds. The main thing is that the water is deep enough that it doesn't freeze solid. Also, as with any other pond fish, you need to cut back food as it gets colder, and in winter you will probably not need to feed the fish at all once the (water) temperature gets below around 10-12 degrees C. In other words, follow the same basic rules as someone would for keeping koi and goldfish. Now, do remember you *cannot* mix fancy goldfish with Ictalurus. Ictalurus are predators and they're also very fast-growing. They're fun fish though, and very hardy. Cheers, Neale>

Ridding pond of channel catfish -- 08/17/07 Sirs: Please excuse me for circumventing all the other paths on your web site; but, I'm really up against a problem, and have spent weeks now searching the web for an answer, to no avail. Then, by chance, I ran across your site. Three years ago, I stocked my pond with 25 channel catfish. At the time, they were fingerlings. Three of them died shortly after putting them in the pond. By the next summer, the others had grown to about 8". I should tell you that I was told by the fish farm where I bought the cats that they were all bulls...I didn't want them reproducing. Being a novice, I had no way of knowing whether they were or not. They weren't, and by the third spring, there must have been 300-500 baby cats in the pond. This summer, we fished out all the remaining original fish, and the ones from last summer will probably breed next spring. Short of draining the pond, how do I get rid of all the catfish so I can start over? There are no other species in the pond, and I don't need thousands of channel cats in a pond this size. The pond is a rounded oval shape, roughly 55 ft X 85 ft, and an average depth of 10-12 ft; very steep sides, no weeds to speak of, and very little algae. It is used primarily for swimming; and, as an emergency water source in the event of a neighborhood fire, since most home-use water in this area is trucked in. Some homeowners have wells, but the flow is very slow (avg 12 gph), and most have iron in them. Thanking you in advance for any advice you can offer. Paul F. Shagnot Ashtabula, Ohio <Unfortunately there are no specific Ictalurid poisons... though there are fish mostly types... I am hesitant to suggest their use however, due to the chance of poisoning other wildlife... and the uncertainty of the disposition of run off water here. My best advice is actually to drain AND lime AND dry this basin... and refill. Otherwise, I suggest you check with your State "fish and game" re their suggestions. Bob Fenner> Thanks! <Welcome! Please do write back re the outcome of your search, efforts. Bob Fenner>

Re: Ridding pond of channel catfish   8/18/07 I will. I had been told that straight household bleach ("Clorox") would do the trick, since it dissipates rather quickly (days); but, I can only imagine how much it would take. <Many, many gallons. Swimming pool sodium hypochlorite/bleach is about the same, but much more concentrated, cheaper... but this too would take many gallons... and mal-affect the mud/overburden...> Then again, somebody else told me to stick the two ends of an electric cord in the water, stun the fish, scoop them out, and relocate them. Not sure I like either............ <Electro fishing is not safe w/o careful training or likely to be totally effective. Bob Fenner>

Re: Ridding pond of channel catfish 8/28/07 Bob Fenner, <Paul> As promised.......... I contacted the Ohio State Extension Service who checked with the State Pond Specialist. He advised that a product called "Rotenone" can be used to kill off the existing fish in lieu of draining the pond; <Ah, yes... a potent general piscicide> however, in the State of Ohio, Rotenone must be applied by a licensed commercial applicator, and that it works best when the water is still warm (within the next 6 weeks). He also told me that the pond became contaminated with "bullhead catfish", and that the dealer, by saying "bulls" was less than honest. Imagine that........... That's all I've learned so far.......now to find a licensed commercial applicator! Paul Shagnot <Take a look in your local Yellow Pages/phone directory under "pest control"... the folks there are licensees. Bob Fenner>

Catfish feeding issue. Ictalurids   7/22/07 I have 2 albino channel cats and 1 Red Oscar and 1 Red Tiger Oscar in a 60 gallon tank. They get along great, but my problem is this I feed my Oscars (Tom and Jerry) Pellets and small feeder fish. When I try to feed the Channel cats, the Oscars eat the sinking pellets. The Channel cats are eating but not as much as they should. Is there anything that I can get to feed them that my Oscars will not eat? Amy Wilt >>>Greetings Amy, Jim here. You do realize that your tank is much too small to keep all of those fish long term yes? As for your feeding issue, hand feed your cats, or use a feeding stick. You'll have to come up with a food item/feeding implement combination that works for you, but if the behavior continues, this is the only practical solution. Years ago, I had a channel catfish that ate pellets from the top of the water with the other fish. Yours will learn to do the same. Cheers Jim<<<

Ictalurids... period   12/28/06 Hey there, I recently was given two channel cats from a friend  there not very active except when the light is off is this normal? <Yep> One  other question is would they appreciate any salt in their water? <None> Thank you  for all your help. <With a chaw, Bob Fenner>

Jabbed By a Catfish...No Need For Panic - 09/26/06 Hi, <<Hello> I was moving an extremely large (24-30") Albino Channel Catfish from one pond to another in my Grandparents yard in a Koi net (large circle, very flat) and I had someone else carry the net by the handle while I was holding it in the net with another small one.  Then, it tried to jump out, so I restrained it in the net (grabbed it "Irwin Style") with my two bare hands, and after a few more steps, I felt a sharp pain in my right hand. <<Mmm...these fish have very stiff and sharp pectoral and dorsal fins.  They can be handled with bare hands (have handled many a catfish in my younger days), but you need to be aware/know how to "grab">> I now have 3-4  punctures, but they are not very deep. <<Ouch!...been there...often burns like the dickens!>> It did not bite me, but rather stabbed me with something. <<Ah yes...as mentioned>> Are these catfish poisonous? If so, what do I do?  Please answer ASAP!!! <<They are not "poisonous", or more accurately - venomous, in the sense that a snake is poisonous/venomous, but the "slime" that is carried in to the wound can cause pain/infection.  I don't think you need be alarmed, but you might want to call your physician to see if "they" think you should come in for treatment/disinfection of the wound...at the least you will likely need a Tetanus shot if you're not current re>> Thanks, Anthony <<Regards, EricR>>

Re: more canal fish (fixed) Fla Catfish ID, tiny tank/s cont.   7/30/06 Well I wouldn't worry about the beetle because the beetle could fit in the catfish's mouth. I'll take it out if it gets bigger. <Ah, good> What was the problem of the one catfish dieing in the canal water but not dieing in freshwater. <Don't know, but likely adapted to the former... different make-up than your fresh/tap water> Is a hexagon beta tank big enough for the catfish? <Not indefinitely no... Look up the species on fishbase.org... see how large it gets?> They look like a pink tadpole with whiskers, and they have a little strip of fin from their head to their tail, top and bottom. The tail is like a little fan or paddle.   Do you know what kind of catfish this might be? <Look up the family Ictaluridae...> I looked in this fish field guide I have and it may be a brown bullhead. <Might be> Which is better because I thought it would be a channel catfish but they get 4' and I do not want that. <Even the Bullhead gets large...> Also the tail shape of a channel catfish is not like a paddle or fan, and they don't have as many whiskers as the brown bullhead or my baby catfish. <Good observation>   There is also a bully in my tank. Now I have one sailfin molly, no gobies, 2 male Brothers, and one shrimp. I think it's my Flagfish because he is the biggest. <This species can indeed be "nippy"> So I put the Betta divider the tank came with in and put him and a Dalmatian molly that is also mean on one side and the others on the other. Some of the fish can fit through but they can swim back to the other side, the 2 fish that are supposed to be there can't.      ...No dead fish today! <Maybe keep an eye on the weekend paper classifieds for a new, larger system/world for your and their use. Bob Fenner> Re: more canal fish (fixed)... Ictalurids, Cichlid comp.   8/3/06 Yes, the brown bullhead do get 18", but by the time they get that big. <?> Will they be good with full grown cichlids? <Some types, species of and about "the right" size...> My catfish are probably a week, two weeks old, and my cichlids are an inch, 1 1/2. How will this growth thing work out, will the catfish be full grown when the cichlids are full grown, or will my cichlids be full grown before my cat fish. <Is a bit of a race... depends also on the size of their world, maintenance, feeding...> I will only keep one and if it is a bullhead what size tank will it need to live in harmony with the cichlids and still be comfortable? <A hundred gallons or so> Is it OK to start feeding them regular sinking fish food? <Likely so> They eat it, and I just thought of feeding them sinking wafer bottom feeder food. If not now when can I feed them bottom feeder food?      I think there is something wrong with the water in my canal fish water. The fish are still dieing and after an hour or maybe they died in the middle of the night, but whenever I take them out there's white algae-looking stuff on them, like you find on dead eggs. Why does that happen and what is it? <Poor environment... they're dying, fungussing...> I don't have to worry about my flag fish any more, it died. <Uhh... I feel compelled to state that it would be a good idea to wait on capturing, trying to keep any more life till you have the means (tank size, filtration, knowledge) to care for it. Bob Fenner>

White catfish + broken Barbel   6/10/06 I have a white catfish (Cattie) in my outdoor pond that is about 7-8 years old and about 16" long.  I noticed that his appetite wasn't as hearty as usual, and upon examination I realized that his right Barbel is "Broken" it appears to have a bend or crack in it about 1/4" from his face (I would estimate his Barbel at about 3" in length). I have no idea how it got injured, perhaps my visiting ducks or maybe he got it caught in one of the plants or rocks. Is there anything I can/should do to try to help? <Mmm, no... other than check your water quality, keep up your maintenance to assure this is stable. Ictalurid catfishes are tough, tolerant of a wide range of conditions, but do prefer clean, nutrient free water of steady temperature, pH...> Will this heal on its own? <Possibly... sometimes these barbels regenerate... if not gone too far back> Can he survive with it broken? <Yes> He was one of the first fish in my pond so I'd hate to see him die if I can help!!! Thank you in advance for any help, Andrea <Ahh, Andrea: "Woman of the sea". Bob Fenner>

Albino Catfish in pond, winter health question  04/17/2006 We have an Albino Catfish in an outside pond, approx 500 gal pond, he has been out there all winter with our koi fish, <Mmm, likely a channel: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/ictalurids.htm> after doing our spring cleaning of the pond, cleaning leaves and such out, we noticed the catfish has this reddish color rash on the top of his body and somewhat on the sides. He is normally all white, didn't know if our water quality is still needing some fixing. <Mmm, careful here> The red rash looks like it is under his skin all the way back to his tail fins. He swims around really well, so don't know what to do for him or her. Can you advise?  Should I be feeding him something different then what we feed the Koi?? <No>   Thanks for anything advice you can give us.   Connie McCunn <I would not "do" anything here other than allow the water to warm up, keep treating this fish as you have been. Likely the reddish coloring is due to environmental stress... the cold, perhaps a degraded water quality over the winter. Adding medicine, salt will do this fish no good. It will "cure" of its own accord. Bob Fenner>

Channeling a Channel Cat in a 30 - Future Catfish Fry? 11/3/05 I have an albino channel catfish (about 8" long, I've had him for 8 months) that lives in a 30-gallon tank and is usually content to hide inside of a coliseum decoration during the day. I've noticed lately that he has become too big to stay inside the decoration and has been coming out a lot during the day. A few days ago I noticed that he had developed a fuzzy growth around his top fin, I thought maybe I was just imagining something, but he seems to be getting worse, the "fuzzy stuff" is spreading and he doesn't seem to be swimming too well.  About a month ago I did a full water change and I changed the rocks and cleaned my tank entirely, I've been doing this bimonthly (the tank cleaning) since I got the tank cause it was in the directions, but this is the first time since I've moved to a new apartment. I'm new to the hobby and I'm not sure what to do, ex. what kind of water testing I should be doing etc. Is my fish getting too cramped in the tank, should I take out the decoration or is he getting a fungus/disease? I've become sort of attached to him and would really like to save him if I can. <Too cramped? You have not seen anything yet! You have a monster in your tank. This is a fish that will grow to well over 30 inches. To house him into adulthood will require a tank of a few hundred gallons! Personally I love catfish, but this is not a species that should be kept unless you are prepared to meet his needs. They also produce vast amounts of waste.  The problems you are having now were probably caused by him trying to hide in too small a cave, compounded by poor water quality. Never clean the entire tank. Instead do partial water changes. 50% at a time. You should be testing for ammonia, nitrite and nitrate. The first two must be kept at zero. Nitrate is less toxic. Under 20ppm is fine. But I think that will be a challenge, to say the least. I think that if you can keep his water pristine the fungus will clear on it's own. Channel cats are very hardy fish. But in doing so you will also see a large growth spurt, compounding the water quality issues even more. Don>

Catfish, Cat Food? - 10/19/2005 Hi.   <Good morning.> I have nine large (to two feet) channel cats in my old swimming pool.  Good use for it. I love to watch them Hoover the pool surface when I feed them catfish chow, but I wonder if it would be all right to just feed them CAT chow, instead.  Or any dry cat food?  They certainly like it, but what about long term effects?  Any thoughts? <To be quite honest, my first reaction was to think that this is not a good idea at all....  But Bob has mentioned convincingly that it's really not a bad idea - he says that in the aquaculture biz this is a common practice....  And channel cats are a catfish that is predatory, so do consume a lot of animal protein....  I think I might recommend that you try to get cat chow with primarily or only fish/aquatic meats as the meat products listed in the ingredients, and avoid poultry or land mammal ingredients.> Thanks,  -Terri <A very good question - thanks for helping me learn something, too.  Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>  

Albino catfish I caught the catfish in the attached photo last Saturday.  I stocked my pond 4 years ago with blue cats from the Arkansas State Fishery in Hot Springs, Ar and noticed this little albino when I put them in the pond (2" long at that time).  It is now almost 8 pounds and 24" long.  Is this a rare fish? <Mmm, sort of... albino channel catfishes do occur "spontaneously" as part of their "normal colored" population... Such sports are cultured for the ornamental trade (pet-fish)> Are albino's sterile?   <Mmm, possibly, but not likely> I think it is a female (I forgot to look) but have not seen any more in my pond.  If it is not sterile, will it's offspring be albino??   Max Cheatham <Some percentage possibly... if mated with a "wild type". Bob Fenner>

Stunted albino channel cat I received a two inch albino channel cat from my mom who had it about 1 year. <Still two inches?...> I bought it a identical buddy and they live in a full whisky barrel that's spring fed. My question: why is my year old channel cat still two inches while its mate has grown another half again in three months. My mother kept it in poor water conditions; may have been malnourished, and it has a funny white bump showing through its skin slightly afore and above its stomach on one side. The poor critter won't eat much either, any suggestions? ~Dano <You list the two principal likely reasons for its stunting... keep up your efforts at feeding, and you may be rewarded with this Cat's return to growth, health. Bob Fenner>

Native catfish set-up I want to set up a 30 gal FW tank with a power filter like Whisper 30 or maybe even 60, as I am planning to use it as my only chemical and mechanical filtration (no UG will be used). I want to go down to the river, catch a tiny catfish, place him (or her) in the tank, and once a week or so go back to the stream and gather crawdads, helgramites, and grass shrimp to drop in the tank for buddies and for food. I am willing to do partial water changes once a week, and to clean tank when needed, but I really want to do as little as possible. Is this realistic? safe for the fish? <Yes> any advice what kind of live plants are good for this tank and lowest maintenance (I admit, did not check archives for this subject)  <I would collect whatever plants that you find in about the same place, habitat... perhaps soak them in an alum solution to remove pests... or isolate them for a week or two... (not necessarily planted) in a shallow, lighted or sunny location for the same purpose> Thanks, Steve [Thanks for your great site, as an aquarist wannabe, I appreciate the information you have amassed, which must have taken a considerable amount of time. <Yes, and you're welcome> I did check your articles and Q&A and learned a great deal about starting a new aquarium, under penalty of a right good tongue-lashing.] <Heee! Thank you, Bob Fenner> 

Albino channel catfish Dear WWM crew, I have a albino channel catfish, he is sweet, cute, and quite smart, but I read somewhere that they can get up to 30 in. Is this true?! <Yes> I have another problem as well, 2 days ago I got 6 new fish , now there is only 1 left in the tank, I've got a feeling that the catfish ate them. Please, can you tell me what other fish I can put in the tank along with my growing catfish without  him eating them? If you can that would be a HUGE help. Sign, C.O <Other large, smart, fast fishes... mid-sized Neotropical Cichlids, other native North Americans, larger barbs, Characoids... Bob Fenner>

Albino channel catfish I bought ms jaws about 2 or 3 years ago when she was about 2 to 3 inches long. now, she is about 25 inches long. on her right side of her nostril, she has a bump protruding, and it's red. I'll try to illustr trate what this bump looks like. if you look at the bottom of a ice cream cone, picture something like that about a quarter of an inch protruding from the right nostril. is this some kind of "pimple" or cyst, and how do I take care of this?  thank you.  ed <I had a school of 14 inch iridescent sharks and a couple had that similar condition. Not sure what the exact name of it was, but I ended up adding a mixture of small amounts of CopperSafe (just a two day dose) and then did a large water change. Let him rest for a few days then Maracide for 5 days. The Swelling should go down over time, but with this mixture it seemed to help it go away quicker.  If you don't want to use medicines, the simply bumping up the water changes should allow the fishes immune system to help with the cyst.>

Albino Channel catfish ms jaws, my catfish, is 25 inches long. she's in a 75 gallon tank, her readings are good, she's eating, and her filters are changed every other day or whenever they get dirty. what I am trying to do is fix this condition on her right nostril. it's red, and it protrudes about a quarter of an inch out. I tried the CopperSafe and the Maracide, but it didn't work. it almost looks like a cyst or a ingrown hair and producing a big pimple. I have never seen this on any other fish, and I am very puzzled as to what this is. I do appreciate you getting back to me on this. will check in a day or two for your reply. thanks!!!!  >>Ed, hello again :) Could you please list your readings? I am especially interested in your nitrate level. How often are you doing partial water changes? Coppersafe and Maracide are helpful against parasites, but I believe your "pimple" could be an irritated, infected sore. You can try using a gentle antibacterial, like Melafix, or Pimafix. Remove any carbon from your filter, and keep track your ammonia, nitrite and nitrate readings whenever you add a medication to your tank. Good luck. -Gwen

Albino catfish  dear Gwen.....it is virtually impossible for me to keep the messages together. I am not a member of Juno, and the only thing that I have at my disposal is the reply button. I am originally with yahoo, and I can put messages better on that site. as for the info, I did use the carb bag that you mentioned, but it didn't do much good, plus it was somewhat clumsy to use. as for water changes, I've got a landlord that is somewhat testy because I use so much of his precious water to try and keep her healthy. the water I use right now is city water out of Hagerstown, Maryland. not the best stuff in the world. I have is well water out of southern Pennsylvania, and for some reason, seem to stay clearer for a longer period of time. I am looking to relocate in southern pa, and to a place that does have well water because I think she functions much better in it. thanks so much for your help on this matter, and of course, zilch on the surgeon. best wishes....ed >>Hey Ed; That's okay. I need to exercise my memory anyways :P Can you explain about the carb bag? Why do you think it didn't help? You didn't have time for it to do much...and I need to understand so I can try to help. As for your landlord, tell him that letting a fish die is animal abuse, and that you are not about to let an animal die due to such neglect. That might help! :P -Gwen

Channel Catfish Dear Bob, I forgot that all caps makes it look like I'm shouting, but I'm not. I was asked to take readings of the tank from another member of your group. They are as follows: pH-7.4, Nitrate-.5PPM, Chlorine-0PPM, Water Hardness-150-300PPM, Ammonia-0PPM. Ms Jaws gets approximately 6 buckets of fresh water per week and six buckets of water is taken out. I scrub the inside of her tank at least once every week or two. She has 4 air stones in her tank powered by a 15 watt Penn Plax air pump. The filters are a Secondnature power filter, and also the 3000 Millennium. I am on the third day of giving her the medicine that your group has recommended-MelaFix. Today when I gave her the dosage, she went kinda spastic, going back and forth and hitting the glass pretty good. This is the first time she has done that. Also, her appetite has picked up. So far, no noticeable improvement on her nose. She still accepts pettings on her head as it does relax her and she does like that form of what you call "bonding". Oh yes, she is in a 75 gallon tank. talk to you soon. I hope this info is helpful. ed >>Dear Ed, thanks for getting back to us with some test results. If I may ask, did you test for ammonia and nitrIte, or nitrAte? They are very different. Please double-check that, and get back to me, since it seems to me you are using a Master Test Kit...and I know that the AqPharm master test kit does not come with nitrAte. Which would mean that you measured nitrites, and at the level you mention, it is quite toxic. But whatever the tests, please do a water change, and make sure the temperature of the new water going in is precisely the same as the water in the tank. Also, when you respond to our emails, please leave the body of the message intact, since I have a crappy memory and it helps if I can re-read the previous messages I sent to you. Thanks! -Gwen<<

Channel Catfish Dear Gwen, you are very correct when you said I was measuring nitrite.  But as I read the chart, there are only 2 other readings that are better, and 3 that are worse. I would keep real plants in there to help combat the nitrite, but she won't have it in there with her. she wipes them out.  I took a lot of gravel out of her tank because there was a period where she would get picky and not eat. but since I started this new medicine, she's eating better.  Is there something that you can recommend as far as beating down this nitrite reading.  And something else, I simply cannot keep her tank clean.  It always has that brown look. she only gets 2 kinds of food...the Wardley's shrimp pellets formula, and also the TetraMin tropical tablets.  I also found out that there are only 20 vets who perform surgery if it comes to that, but at a cost of anywhere between 350 to 1000 bucks.  Kinda high for a fish. anyway, if there is anything else you can tell me that might work, I would greatly appreciate it.  This has been one real experience with her, and after all this, I would hate to lose her. thanks.....ed >>Hiya Ed; If your nitrites are that high, you can buy Bio-Chem-Zorb, it is a little pouch that you can put in your filter. You can also use a liquid product called Prime, or ask at your Local Fish Store for whichever product they sell that will help de-toxify your nitrite. Also, do as many partial water changes as you can, in order to try and lower the level. Don't worry about algae at this point, just vacuum any excess food out of the bottom. Do not overfeed. Also, forget about the fish surgery. Two things can happen, either the fish will not survive the cycling process, or it will survive and recuperate on its own (with a bit of medicinal help from you). A surgeon is NOT necessary. Your fish is sick because of the high nitrites, and once the nitrites are under control, the catfish should recuperate. Eventually nitrites will go away on their own, but for the time being, you need to keep up with the water testing, and water changes. And Ed...please keep the emails intact when you reply to us...I need to re-read what I've already told you in previous emails, thanks! -Gwen<<

Channel Catfish Dear Gwen, I used the bag a long time ago, and the way it fit in the above type filter didn't seem like it was doing all that much. Very hard to know if it was at its full potential. I was, per se, a guessing game. And I did try it a couple times but it just didn't sit that well with me. ms jaws condition remains unchanged as far as the growth on the right nostril. later.....ed_b Hey Ed :) Okay then. I guess the best thing to do is to make sure your water quality stays as good as possible. Do regular partial water changes, cleaner water will help prevent secondary infections. Hopefully, your catfish will heal on his own :D -Gwen

Is this really a blue channel cat....... hi, my name is Clinton and I got this cat from a local pet store that doesn't really know what their doing so I was wondering if you guys tell me if this is really a blue channel cat, sex and how big it gets and will it be a problem for central and south American cichlids.. <Does appear to be a (blue) channel catfish, Ictalurus punctatus. Can't be sexed externally (at least at this size, age). Grows to a record of more than four feet in length, but yours is likely to not get more than a foot or so long due to restrictions of captivity. Should do fine with Neotropical cichlids as long as there is no great size discrepancy (too small and they might get inhaled by the cat, too large and the cichlids might pick on it)> right now I have it in a breeding box because it looks like slightly like it might be pregnant if it is a female.............thanks <Not filled with eggs (too young)> p.s. let me know if the pic isn't good enough <It's fine my young friend. Bob Fenner>

Goldfish/Catfish ID <Mark- It looks like you have a Ictalurus punctatus- Albino Channel Catfish.  This fish will get 28 inches long- hope you're prepared!  Young catfish need meaty foods- bloodworms, sinking pellets etc.  This is a predatory fish by nature, so keep him away from anything that will fit in it's mouth.  Here are some links that may assist you in your new purchase: http://www.fishbase.org/Summary/SpeciesSummary.cfm?&genusname=ictalurus&speciesname=punctatus http://www.planetcatfish.com/ilibrary/ictaluri/ictaluru/6_f.htm Best of luck! Ryan> Goldfish ID <Hello! Ryan with you> Hi, I just bought a group of goldfish and this one was with them, but the shop have no idea what it is !!!  I an living in Holland and any help would be great, thank you Mark. <Mark, I'm sorry but the image didn't come through.  Send it back and we'll do our best! Ryan> Ryan, hope you receive these pics. Thanks for your quick response, Mark.

Channel catfish I have a good size channel cat in with an albino cat and Oscar <Oh, my. I hope you have a *very* large tank...the channel cat can get up to 5 feet long and almost 60 pounds!> the channel has developed a large sack like stomach is there any way to tell sexes of cats and are they live bearers <They are egg-layers; you may be able to tell the sexes apart when they are about ready to spawn. I would check www.nativefish.org and www.planetcatfish.com for more information on your Ictalurus punctatus. --Ananda>

Catfish with worms under skin hello my name is Kenny Mayer and I live down here in Texas and I have a question I have a pond about 100 ft by 100 ft and I have catfish in it that I have had all kinds of trouble with but I thought I was getting ahead and thought everything was under control till this weekend and went down and trapped some of my fish to have a look at them and I seen something I have never seen before it looked like they are getting worms or something under the skin can you give me some help to figure out what is going on I had some bass in another pond that did have actually worms in there fins and I was wondering if there is some kind of chemical that I can try to get ride of the worm problem before they kill my fish I heard some one say that iodine would help but have no idea where to get it so please give me some help thanks <Good observations. Yes, there are "worm under the skin diseases" of fishes that are real trouble. Disfiguring to actual causes of mortality. Most are either nematodes (roundworms) or trematodes (flukes)... I would do two things here. One, have a fisheries extension agent (you pay for them as part of your taxes) come out from the fish and game or college and determine the actual species involved, and Two: engage in a long term plan to eradicate them by interrupting their life cycle. Very likely an intermediate host in the way of a snail, waterfowl is involved and you can best get rid of the fish problem with eliminating a necessary "link" in the chain of life of this parasite by breaking the cycle. We can chat over all this more when you have ascertained what the actual "causative mechanism" (type of worm, cycle) you have. Bob Fenner>

Re: catfish with worms under skin thanks for the info but have you heard of using iodine and where might I get something like that <What? No to using iodine for a parasitic problem... Study my friend. Read through the "Troubleshooting" and other disease sections on our site: www.WetWebMedia.com Bob Fenner>

New aquarium owners (with Cats, with BIG mouths) Bob, Can you help out? Thanks, Susan <Sure> Subject: new aquarium owners  we recently purchased an aquarium 2 blue canal catfish 4 Neons 2 zebras so far, one zebra has turned up missing & now, one neon is gone we are concerned that perhaps the canal fish (about 2 inches in length) may be having our little fish for dinner please tell us the compatibility of these fish & if we should make some other choices for our bottom cleaners thank you for your assistance cj McDonald <You are absolutely correct... the "Canal" is actually "Channel" Catfish... cool water native species that are much more "eater-uppers" than cleaner uppers... that will gladly inhale your other fishes in time. Do quickly trade them back into your fish store... and get some peaceful Corydoras catfishes instead. Want to see what these look like? Please see our website: www.WetWebMedia.com under the "Freshwater Index". Bob Fenner>

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