Essay

What Are Piebald Catfish And How Rare Are They?

When uncommon piebald catfish are discussed, the blue catfish is typically brought up. The 2012 catch of two piebald blue catfish by the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Fish Ecology Team is most likely the cause of this. A few have also been observed in the past by anglers who are not associated with any official body they have all been blues.

Channel cats and flathead cats are also considered unusual varieties of piebald catfish, yet for some reason they don’t seem to be as well-known as blue cats. The “big three” of catfish are blues, flatheads, and channel cats, while there are many more species that may be found globally that swim in fresh, saline, and brackish waterways.

A piebald cat is a once-in-a-million or perhaps a once-in-a-billion chance to capture, as any angler will tell you. There is typically a spike in viral social media videos and local media coverage when it occurs. However, how uncommon are these piebald catfish, and does catching one really matter that much?

How Rare Is A Piebald Catfish?

The fact that the question has no definitive solution makes it the most mimicking. It’s a simple query, and most searches of this kind include a set of data. Sadly, none exist, and the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Fish Ecology Team provides the best estimate of how uncommon a piebald catfish is.

The group captured thousands of catfish in and around the Vicksburg, Mississippi, area between 1997 and 2014. The majority of the cats—22,230—were blue, with 2,050 flatheads and 9,300 channel cats. Only two of the 33,580 catfish were piebalds, and they were both blue.

One of them passed away while in the team’s care during transportation, while the other died after being moved and given a consistent diet. Fascinatingly, after the Army study team fed it frozen shrimp, minnows, and earthworms, the one that made it through the relocation started to lose its baldness. But soon after regaining most of its pigmentation, it passed away.

There isn’t much information on rare piebald catfish, including population size, typical habitat, and behavior, outside of this small trial. It is assumed that their lack of pigmentation has no negative effects on their life or death, just like all other catfish. The following brief attention and the infrequent catch are the only more facts available on piebald catfish.

Rare Piebald Catfish: Blue, Flathead, and Channel

In American waters, the big three are the most commonly caught and sought-after catfish. If catfish is your thing, you’ll probably order one of these three at your neighborhood eatery. While piebald blues are the subject of the majority of news sites and articles, blue catfish aren’t the only ones who lack coloration.

Piebald Channel Catfish

Blues always undergo more acclimatization than Piebald Channel cats do. However, some people opt to expose them after they are discovered. I’m sure there are a lot of anglers who have caught a once-in-a-lifetime, extremely uncommon piebald channel catfish and decided to take a personal photo of it or release it.

Piebald Blue Catfish

Anglers have reported spotting piebald catfish on rare occasions, aside from the two that the Army managed to capture. In 2021, Chad Hester, an angler from Missouri, captured an enormous piebald blue catfish. The 36-pound, enormous, unusual piebald catfish was more than 40 inches in length. Although it wasn’t the biggest cat ever captured in the Missouri River, it was still quite enormous. It was a blue, of course.

Two biologists from the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks had captured a piebald blue almost ten years before. But after measuring it, they decided not to retain it and released it into the river. A Tennessee angler named Daimon Drymon captured a rare piebald blue catfish in the Tennessee River in September of 2022.

Despite being the same as a piebald, the term “leucistic” is used in the majority of articles about the capture. The illness that is suspected to produce piebald animals is known as leucism. Ironically, the Tennessee River region where Drymon caught his fish is noted for having a greater than average production of albino catfish.

Piebald Flathead Catfish

Even less recognition is given to rare piebald flathead catfish than to channel cats. When it comes to their existence, the most information is available on forums where people share images and engage in giddy conversation over such a noteworthy capture.

What Causes Piebald Catfish Patterns

There isn’t much in-depth research on the causes of the piebald pattern in catfish. Biologists surmise that this is because it is too difficult and uncommon to catch and investigate one, making such an inquiry unfeasible. Most people agree with what we already know about the several species of piebald animals that we are aware of, like piebald deer and squirrels.

Leucism, or the piebald condition in these animals, is caused by a gene mutation that is most likely caused by melanocytes. The pigment cells in most wildlife that give them their different colors are called melanocytes. The faulty gene is carried by these melanocytes. “Kit” is the name of this gene.

The body’s ability to absorb melanin is hampered by kit. This is a theory, at least for the time being, which is why we use the word “apparently.” Scientists studying biology believe that catfish is causing the same problem.

Last Words

It’s likely that rare piebald catfish are just as sporadic as piebald animals of other species. Regardless of the species we are discussing, they are all rare. But when it comes to catfish, we don’t really get to see them from above at any time whenever we want to.

Piebald catfish are only seen after they are captured. Therefore, rather than being based on actual observations, the theory that they are rarer than piebald mooses most likely stems from observational capacity. In any case, they are quite uncommon and amazing to witness. It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity if you ever catch one or witness an angler reel one in. Be sure to prepare your camera!