Monday, May 25, 2015

Missouri State Fish - The Catfish

published on: 2/28/2003

Contributing Teacher(s): Calene Cooper

Subject Area: Science/Life

Grade Range: Upper Elementary (4-5), Middle Grades (6-8), High School (9-12)

Materials Needed:

  • paper
  • colored pencils
  • scissors
  • glue

Process Standards:

  • Goal 1.1 develop questions and ideas to initiate and refine research
  • Goal 1.2 conduct research to answer questions and evaluate information and ideas
  • Goal 1.3 design and conduct field and laboratory investigations to study nature and society

Content Standards:

  • Science 1. Properties and principles of matter and energy
  • Science 3. Characteristics and interactions of living organisms
  • Science 5. Processes (such as plate movement, water cycle, air flow) and interactions of earth’s biosphere, atmos...

    Time Allowance: 1 class period

    Description: This lesson from a six lesson unit deals with the Missouri Symbol the Catfish.

    Comments: This lesson is one of six lessons of a complete unit.

    Classroom Component: Teacher Note: This lesson is a part of a complete unit. Click on the links below to view other individual lessons. Lesson introduction page State Flower--Hawthorn State Aquatic Animal--Paddlefish State Mineral--Galena State Rock--Mozarkite State Tree Nut--Black Walnut

    NOTE:  This activity is provided free of charge by the Missouri Conservation Commission. See teacher resource order form available from the Commission.

    Procedure: After assembly of models allow the students to develop creative ways to display these catfish throughout the classroom or school. Perhaps your students could build a model of a Missouri river bottom which is the natural habitat of the channel catfish.

    Directions: Color all body parts before cutting them out. Channel catfish is darker on top and has a white belly. Fins and back of the fish should be colored a brownish grey. Highlight the rays of the fins in silver or white. See An Introduction to Missouri Fishes or the Missouri Fishes Poster available from the Missouri Department of Conservation for more details on the coloring. Cut out the parts and assemble as directed on the pages. It is recommended that the body be stuffed with tissue or paper towels as well as the paper scraps left from cutting out the parts. This adds strength and structure to the model.

    Included with this model is a drawing of The Important Parts of a Catfish. Discuss these scientific terms with your students as they assemble their models. Some students may want to label their 3-D models with the anatomical terms.

    Background Information on Missouri State Fish

    In 1997 the Missouri State Legislature named the catfish as our official state fish. Catfish, however, is a common family name for at least three groups of fish. One can assume that the state legislature was referring to the channel or blue catfish unless they were possibly referring to the yellow or black bullheads. Or maybe they meant the flathead catfish? This confusion shows that politicians should have sought scientific information from ichthyologists before designating a generic common name as our state fish. Perhaps they meant to leave the legislation generic to satisfy the many sports fishermen/women throughout our state who all have their own favorite "catfish" catch.

    Catfish is the common name for fishes of the order, Siluriformes. The order contains 25 to 31 families and about 2,200 species, worldwide. Only two families are marine, the rest inhabiting fresh water. The most numerous of the North American catfishes come from the family Ictaluridae of which there are 37 species in North America and 15 found in Missouri. Missouri catfishes include the genuses of Ictalurus, Pylodictis, and Noturus. The well known channel and blue catfish, and bullheads are Ictalurids, the flathead catfish is a Pylodictis, and the nine lesser known madtoms are belong to the genus Noturus. Catfish are easy to recognize because they all have four pairs of long, slender barbels near the mouth that resemble the whiskers of cats. They have smooth, scaleless skin with soft rayed fins except for a sharp spine at the front of the dorsal fin and each of the pectoral fins. A small rayless adipose fin can be found on the back of these fish just ahead of the tail.

    Catfish are most active at night, hiding during the daytime in natural cavities or in the deeper parts of rivers and lakes. They have external tastes buds in their barbels showing that catfish are very dependent on their senses of taste and touch instead of sight. Catfish vary greatly in size. The largest in the world is the European catfish (Silurus glanis) at 290 kilograms and approximately four meters in length. Missouri''s largest catfish is the flathead at 94 pounds. Catfish make good parents in the fish world. They spawn in natural cavities or constructed nests and unlike so many other fish species will remain with the eggs until they hatch. Both male and female bullheads will even attend to the young for some time after they have hatched. An interesting feature on the madtoms is a mild venom of poison found in their pectoral and dorsal spines. When a madtom is alarmed it will erect these spines and puncture wound caused by them produces a painful reaction in other predators, even humans. Many other North American catfish have this ability.

    Fishing for catfish in Missouri is a favorite activity among anglers. Several baits work for cats, the most common of which is a rubber worm dipped in stink bait. Other baits that work well are shad, chicken livers, and crayfish. Catfish can be taken by fishing with a pole, but another favored method is to set up trotlines. The three species of catfish and the two bullheads are well known among anglers, while the madtoms, not being a sport fish because they are too small, are relatively unknown. Catfish can be regularly taken from the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers, especially during the evenings. Daily limits for channel and blue catfish are ten with an open season year round. Flatheads daily limit is five. While most Missouri rivers contain catfish there are several lakes where catfishing can be successful. These include the August A. Busch Conservation Area Lake, Binder Lake, Mark Twain Lake, Lake of the Ozarks, and Truman Lake. Many farmers and municipalities stock smaller lakes with catfish fry as these are especially popular catches. Catfish are raised commercially on many fish farms for use as food. Fish farms in the United States produce more than 140,000,000 kilograms of catfish meat annually, mainly channel catfish. While Alabama, Arkansas, and Mississippi outrank our state in catfish farm production, Missouri does have an important and growing aquaculture industry. Currently a large portion of Missouri''s aquaculture production is oriented around recreational markets, but commercial meat production will continue to grow into the 21st century. The full potential of Missouri aquaculture will only be realized if government, the academic community, and private business form effective, working, partnerships. The promotion of Missouri aquaculture and its products in the marketplace needs more investment dollars and objective, realistic information must be provided to the general public. The decline of commercial fisheries world-wide increases the demand for aquaculture in all our states. In 1980, Missouri was among the top seven states in the nation in total surface water acreage and in the number of commercial aquaculture operations. In 1993, Missouri fish producers reported sales of 22 million dollars from thirty species of fish produced on approximately seventy Missouri fish farms. Estimates of profits from catfish production ranch from $300 to $1,400 per acre on commercial-scale farms, compared to profits from row crops ranging from $50 to $300 dollars per acre. Flowers Fish Farm near Dexter, Missouri is our largest catfish fingerling producer and Bruton Farms of Caruthersville, Missouri, is the largest adult catfish producer in the state.

    • The Missouri Department of Health has warned taken from the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers should be eaten in quantities of no more than one pound per week because of possible exposure to the banned pesticide, chlordane. Catfish should be filleted removing all fatty portions and the skin. Baking, grilling, or broiling is the best method of cooking. If you deep fry your fish, do not reuse the oil. Streams and rivers in the Missouri Ozarks have generally been fou

      For additional information contact :
      Calene Cooper
      West Jr. High
      Columbia 93
      (573) 886-2760

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