The channel catfish, like other catfish, has no scales, a single bony spine in each pectoral fin and the dorsal fin, and 8 barbels around the mouth. They have a deeply forked tail and the upper jaw is longer than the lower jaw. The dorsal and pectoral spines are sharp and deeply serrated, and the anal fin is curved and has between 24 and 30 rays. The body can be blue, gray, silver, or almost black. Their belly is usually white or cream colored. Small individuals are usually more silver in color and often have many black spots on their sides. Some anglers mistakenly call large channel catfish with few or no spots blue catfish, but the blue catfish has an anal fin with a straight edge and greater than 30 rays.