Food Habits of Flathead Catfish in the Altamaha River System, Georgia

The food habits of flathead catfish (Pylodictis olivaris) in the Altamaha River system, Georgia were determined by examining the contents of 866 flathead catfish stomachs from the Altamaha and Ocmulgee rivers during the summer of 1997. Stomach contents were analyzed by frequency of occurrence, percent composition by weight, and percent composition by number. Dominant prey items consumed were centrarchids, ictalurids, and invertebrates. Invertebrates were the most prevalent diet item by number and weight consumed by flathead catfish <30l mm. Centrarchids were the dominant prey item consumed by flathead catfish >301 mm. Since the establishment of flathead catfish in the Altamaha River system there has been a decrease in the native redbreast sunfish (Lepomis auritus) population. Forage species availability and the food habits of flathead catfish in the Altamaha River system may be related to the negative impact flathead catfish have had on native species, in particular the redbreast sunfish.

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11999