Food habits of Blue Catfish (Ictalurus furcatus) introduced into Lake Oconee, Georgia
Mitchell, Geoffrey Earl
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Blue Catfish are native to the Coosa river drainage in northwest Georgia, but were discovered outside this range (in Lake Oconee) in 1997. In Lake Oconee, their abundance and growth rates have increased dramatically, but their food habits are unknown. Therefore, food habits of Blue Catfish were determined by examining the stomachs of 808 specimens from Lake Oconee’s upper and lower regions during all seasons from summer 2012 to summer 2013. Stomach contents were analyzed using the Index of Relative Importance. The dominant seasonal prey item was Asian Clams (Corbicula fluminea; 98%) during the summer, Asian Clams (46%) in the fall, Mayflies (Ephemeroptera; 23%) in the winter, and Mayflies (84%) in the spring. The results show that the diet of introduced Blue Catfish in Lake Oconee, Georgia, is omnivorous. More importantly, the results also show that they are not preying intensely on native bi-valves and fishes.