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Catfish travel in schools but live in over 37 different families. There are more than 2,000 known species. Catfish are named for the barbell shaped whiskers around their mouth. Catfish are fresh water species and can be found around the globe except in Antarctica. Contary to many ledgends and cartoons, catfish do not have fur.
The catfish's body is slim, smooth, silvery blue or light olive with black spots. The tail is forked, the head is flat, and its most recognizable feature is its barbell whiskers. An average catfish weighs between two to seven pounds and measures 12 to 24 inches. Catfish can live up to 25 years. The world's record weighed 38 pounds and was caught in South Carolina
Catfish like cool, clean, deep water with slow or moderate currents. They also prefer a sandy or rocky bottom. They live and thrive in rivers, streams, swamps, lakes, and reservoirs.
Catfish will eat just about anything and everything. Some staples include insect larvae, crayfish, mollusks, small fish, clams, snails, worms, and seed. They use there barbells to scavenger for food and eat mostly at night. Fisherman use cheese, chicken, dough balls, red-worms, as well as tradition bait to hook catfish.
Males contruct a nest in a hole at a river's bottom in late spring to early summer. Females lay the eggs in a large and sticky mass. One catfish can lay up to 4,00 eggs per year. The male gaurds the nest and chases the female away. After 5 to 10 days the eggs hatch.
Catfish is currently the 5th most popular fish in America. It is available year round and can be found on many restaurants menus. It is served blackened, fried, marinated, as a dip, in a stew, as a sandwich, creamed, and in a casserole.
President Ronald Reagan declared June 25th as National Catfish Day in 1987 due to its symbol of American summertime fun and the abundant and elaborate catfish tales.