Scientists have successfully crossed the blue cat male with the female channel cat in a laboratory setting. The result?? A cat that is less suseptible to parasites and diseases than blues are...yet grow faster, and more efficiently digests and utilizes the food that it eats than does a channel cat. It also is more aggressive than a channel...and is easier to catch than either parent species. A more cost effective breeding procedure is the only thing preventing it from becoming the go-to catfish of choice in farms and hatcheries. But it is however more than possible. Hybridization in the wild is a whole other ball game. What prevents the swapping of genes between similar species in the wild from occuring?? The fact of the matter is that it does quite commonly occur between similar species. Changes to the fish's environment or new fish's introduction where they don't naturally occur is one reason. Channelization and manmade dams for example present an un-natural concentration point and impedes the natural/traditional spring spawning migrations of several species...pushing sexually mature fish of similar species to spawn together....either by accident, or by design. And then obviously engineered genetic changes in the fish themselves are another form of hybridization. Case in point...the whitebass/striper hybrid...also known as the wiper...and also the afore mentioned channel/blue cat hybrid. Over 200 different naturally occuring hybrids have been documentated among North American fishes though. For example...it is well known that sunfish commonly cross with various minnow species. As well as the occasional natural reproduction of the saugeye where walleye and sauger overlap. But yet other species cannot be crossed even in the most rigourously controlled experiments. Blue and channel cats fall somewhere inbetween. Hybrid blue and channel cats dont occur naturally...but they can be crossed in an un-natural setting. By simply stocking like numbers of opposite sexes of channel and blues in a tank together...the abscence of a suitable mate of the same species will be overlooked...as catfish become open minded when the spawning urge peaks. This is not the case in the wild....scientists explain that when two similar species occur in the same territory...barriers to hybridization in the wild can be either in the location or the timing of the spawn, differing spawning technique and courtship rituals, or a bio-chemical conflict between the egg and the sperm may also occur. usually a combination of these natural barriers prevent crossing in natural habitats. Home ranges and habitats for the catfish do overlap, and blues and channels all spawn in about the same way. Spawning for North American catfish all begins at about roughly 70 degree water temps...occurs in nesting cavaties...and often in muddy water...which makes visual identification a non-occurence. But yet somehow...blues, flats, and channel are determined to avoid each other in the wild when they spawn...and will go to great lengths to do so. Since blues and channel hybrids can in fact be produced under artificial conditions...some factor besides timing and location must account for their genetic purity. Many scientists reason that since fish have an acute sense of smell...they must use it to detect pheromones in social interactions such as spawning. They go further to theorize that catfish can distinguish one individual fish from another by the odor of their slime coat. If this is in fact the case...it would be easy to make the assumption that they can then sense and reject a fish of another species that has entered their spawning area. The instinct to reject other species appears to be strong in catfish...unless they just are given no other choice.