Channel catfish (Amerikanamazu)

a photo of Channel catfish

The appearance of Channel catfish

Common name: Channel catfish, Catfish, Graceful Catfish,

Japanese name: Amerikanamazu (アメリカナマズ)

Scientific name: Ictalurus punctatus (Rafinesque, 1818)

Nigiri sushi detail: Channel catfish Nigiri sushi

Remarks: Substitute fish for Red sea bream


Channel catfish (Amerikanamazu) is an exotic fish native to North America and a member of the catfish family. It inhabits ponds, lakes, and rivers, and lives in relatively deep water. It has no scales, whiskers around its mouth, and thick, sharp spines on its dorsal and pectoral fins. The breeding season is from spring to summer. The maximum length is over 1 meter.

In North America, the Amerikanamazu is more popular as a food source than as a target fish for fishing. The species was introduced to Japan from North America as a food source, and after escaping from aquaculture farms, it became established in freshwater areas in various regions, with the population increasing rapidly from around 1995.

As a result, this species was designated as a Specified Invasive Alien Species in 2005 and as an Invasive Alien Species under Emergency Measures in 2018.

The storage, transport, and release of Amerikanamazu alive is prohibited by law, and appropriate measures, including pest control, must be taken in water systems where this species has been confirmed to be invasive.

Amerikanamazu is a tasty fish and is farmed in Kasumigaura and Okuhida, Gifu Prefecture. In Hida, it has become a specialty as “Kawagafugu” (river pufferfish).

The cultured fish can be eaten raw, and has a clear white flesh reminiscent of puffer fish, with a moderately firm texture. In the U.S. and other countries, it is actively farmed for use in fish burgers and fries. Its white flesh is not fishy, so it can be used as a substitute for cod and other fish.

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