Stomach Contents of Flathead Catfish in the Flint River, Georgia

Stomach contents of flathead catfish (Pylodictis olivaris) from the Flint River, Georgia, were examined to gain information on basic life history of this introduced species and to assess potential impacts on traditional fisheries. Acrylic tubes and a flexible claw retriever were effective for observing and collecting stomach contents which were then analyzed by frequency of occurrence, percent composition by number, and percent composition by weight. Young-of-the-year catfish contained primarily aquatic insects and began eating crayfish, sunfish (Lepomis sp.) fry, and darters (Etheostoma sp.) toward the end of their first year. Crayfish were the dominant food item by number and weight in flathead catfish shorter than 600 mrn. Flathead catfish, unidentified fish, and channel catfish were the primary teleost food items by weight in fish 301 to 600 mm in length. In flathead catfish ≥601 mm, gizzard shad (Dorosoma cepedianum) and sunfish were the primary teleost prey items according to frequency of occurrence; the dominant food items by weight were suckers (Catostomidae) and gizzard shad. The current flathead catfish diet suggests that adverse impacts on traditional fisheries are unlikely.

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