I purchased four channel catfish at a local pet shop for a trial run stocking my 500 gallon (1900 liter) aquaponics tank. I want to ensure that what I ended up with was a true Channel Catfish.

The pet store had both channel catfish and "bala catfish" mixed in the same tank, however I can't seem to find any real information on Bala Catfish, almost as though it's a nickname for something else. When the employee was netting them out of their tank he wasn't 100% sure of which ones were which. The fish are only 4-5 inches long at this point and so some of the distinctive features of each likely aren't visible yet or aren't pronounced enough.

Unfortunately, the fish are very shy, and given that they now have a 500 gallon home to hide in, which does not have clear walls, it's difficult for me to get a photo to compare.

What characteristics would I look for to know which species I ended up with?

  • Honestly I can't see a store selling real channel catfish. They're big fish, not usually kept in aquariums. I think you could improve this with a picture of your catfish and perhaps a modification to "what kind of catfish is this?", since I also couldn't find anything on a "bala catfish" except someone wondering what it was. – Plumbing for Ankit Jun 2 '15 at 17:40
  • This was a small-ish local pet shop, they had some large non-heated tanks where they sell fish for stocking outdoor ponds and such. Large koi, catfish, trout, perch, etc. I'll try and coax one of them to the surface so I can get a good picture. – cathode Jun 2 '15 at 18:59
  • @Axelrod "What kind of animal is this" questions are generally not on topic here, but "What's the difference between X and Y?" is generally much easier to answer and straightforward. – Zaralynda Jun 2 '15 at 21:02

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