Rare 53-pound albino catfish dies

Friday, July 27, 2007 | 2:16 p.m. CDT; updated 3:42 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008
John Young planned to transfer this rare specimen from a tank at Tombstone Tackle to the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga, where it would have spent the rest of its natural life. However, the fish didn't survive.

COLUMBIA — Just four days after it was caught, John Young’s famed albino catfish died.

That this catfish lived to be so large with such a conspicuous color made it a rarity, Craig Gemming, a fisheries management biologist at the Missouri Department of Conservation, explained after hearing about Young’s find.

Young caught the catfish on July 7 while fishing off a sandbar on the Missouri River above Boonville. The fish was put in a tank at Tombstone Tackle, but it was supposed to live out its days at the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga, Tenn. The aquarium, however, struggled to find a portable tank large enough for the fish.

“They weren’t coming as fast as they said they would,” Young said.

It was just bad timing, he said. Catching the fish on a Saturday also didn’t help, since Young couldn’t notify the aquarium of his find until the following Monday.

“We knew he wasn’t going to make it,” he said. “After four days, it’s just a lot of stress on the fish.”

Such an extended time spent in a tank, even large ones like the one Young used at Tombstone Tackle, were tough on the fish, Young said.

“We made a judgment call, and we decided in the best interest of the fish to just let him go,” Young said.

Young did not disclose the location where he parted with his fish so that it may rest in peace.

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