We can’t attempt to list all of these fascinating animals, with thousands (almost 3,000) of distinct species of catfish and over 30 in the United States alone. Catfish have enormous sizes, shapes (big and little), and personalities that set them apart from other species. Everything you need to know about these seventeen catfish species may be found in this article.
Catfish can be found in both freshwater and marine settings and are found on every continent except Antarctica. aquarium keepers love catfish for their variety and lively dispositions. In addition to being a fascinating discovery in nature, they like them.
What is a Catfish?
Despite size variations, catfish are bottom feeders who are mostly active at night and have similar appearances. The skin of the catfish is smooth, with no scales, which is one of their distinctive features. Catfish have razor-sharp spines on their fins, backs, and sides.
Their whiskers, often known as barbels, give the fish a cat-like appearance and are their most prominent feature. Eight barbels are found near the mouths of many types of catfish, and at least one pair of barbels is present.
The keen sense of smell of most catfish varieties aids them in hunting in murky waters. The size of catfish ranges from 4 to 5 centimeters to 15 feet (4.6 meters) long. Color varies, but the majority of them are subdued and dull hues.
How many species of Catfish are there?
In the United States, there are 30 different catfish families. There are over 3,000 different catfish species! Catfish are one of the 20 most common vertebrate species. That is a very high ratio, to put it mildly. Many more sorts of catfish, according to scientists, may yet be found and characterized!
“The Big Three” Types of Catfish
Anglers in North America are primarily interested in and catching three catfish species known as “The Big Three.” These three catfish species have huge populations throughout the United States. These catfish are the most accessible, convenient, and plentiful to anglers due to their range. The major three are outlined here, as well as where to find them.
1. Blue Catfish
Blue catfish may range in hue from light blue to dark blue, and they can appear black at times due to the name. They have white bellies. The Rio Grande River produces black catfish with dark markings, which may weigh up to 150 pounds (68 kg), although the majority are around 20 pounds (9 kg). A straight anal fin and a fork tail might be seen. The anal fin has between 30 and 36 rays.
Large rivers and their main channels and tributaries are home to blue catfish. On the bottoms of lakes, reservoirs, tributaries, and swift-moving river water, you may see them over sand, gravel, or rocky. During the summer, they upstream to locate colder water, and during the winter, they downstream to warm up.
The Ohio, Missouri, and Mississippi rivers are home to the blue catfish. In the southern United States, Mexico, and northern Guatemala, you can also find them.
Blue catfish are one of the largest species of North American catfish, and they are considered excellent food fish. The capture of a Blue is all the more thrilling for the angler because Blues are renowned for their strength and tendency to put up a struggle.
The life expectancy of blue catfish is thought to be 20 to 30 years. Herring, frogs, crayfish, mussels, and other fish are among the species that the blue catfish eats. Most anglers prefer to fish with live bait or fresh dead oily bait, but they will bite artificial baits.
High fin blue catfish is sometimes referred to as another species, despite being known as hump-back blues or Mississippi white catfish. The blue catfish is the only species, so this categorization is incorrect.
2. Channel Catfish
Olive-brown to grey in color, channel catfish They have black markings, notably on smaller fish, unlike the blue catfish. Their bellies will be white, and their skin will be silvery.
They’ll have a deeply forked tail and be about 30 pounds (14 kg) in weight with a curving anal fin. The anal fin of these fish has 24 to 29 rays. The protruding upper jaw of channels also distinguishes them from flathead catfish.
Male ducks choose dark, deserted places like rock mounds of wood to locate mate sites. Mussels, crustaceans, fish, plants, and insects will be eaten by adult channels when they reach a size of 4 inches. In their muddy waters, channel catfish emerge at night to hunt, relying on their exceptional sense of smell.
Channel catfish may be found in large rivers, lakes, and reservoirs. Channels prefer modest to low currents, unlike blues. Channels, on the other hand, are a very good food fish. They are the second most common species after bass in the United States. Because of the prevalence of most lakes, rivers, and reservoirs, channels are popular.
Punch baits, drip baits, and soap baits are the most popular types of prepared catfish bait. Natural baits, such as worms and crawfish, may also be used by anglers. Every year, around 10 million anglers pursue channel catfish!
Channels weighing 1 to 4 pounds (0.5 to 2 kg) are ideal for restaurant use. You’ve most likely eaten channel catfish if you ordered it at a restaurant.
3. Flathead Catfish
Mottled black, brown, and pale yellow hues will be seen on flathead catfish. Their bellies are a delicate cream color. They are most typically 4 to 20 pounds (2 to 9 kilograms) and range in size from 22 to 44 inches. They may grow to be as large as 100 pounds (45 kg), making them North America’s second biggest catfish species.
Flatheads have a shorter, rounded anal fin and do not have a forked tail. On their anal fin, they’ll have fewer than 30 rays. Flatheads have flattened heads and a head shape akin to that of a shovel or board. As an underbite, the lower jaw protrudes out. Flathead catfish, like other catfish species, exclusively eats fish.
From Central Mexico to the lower Great Lakes, flatheads are found in coastal waters. Flatheads favor gloomy, deep creekbeds with little or no current and black, deep pools of creeks.
Flatheads are a problematic species because of overpopulation and have become an invasive species for anglers. Flatheads will consume bottom-dwelling fish that reproduce in open water since they are carnivores.
Other Large Sport Catfish
4. Wels Catfish
The wels catfish is the only catfish endemic to Europe, with a maximum length of 16 feet (5 meters) and a weight of 660 pounds (299 kilograms). The Wels catfish is a popular sport fish because of its immense bulk.
The fact that Wels catfish can change color based on their surroundings is a fascinating characteristic. The tapetum lucidum layer of tissue that covers the top of Wels catfish’s eyes gives them superb night vision. In the dark, the tissue allows for greater amounts of light to enter the eye.
The black bullhead, brown bullhead, and yellow bullhead are the three most prevalent types of bullheads. From Montana to Texas, as well as north to Quebec, Ontario, bullheads may be found in eastern North America.
Bullheads, like channel catfish, may be captured by accident in similar waters. Bullheads, on the other hand, are a delicious food fish if the water is clear. Bullheads do not have a forked tail and are naturally lighter in color than flathead cats, weighing under 2 pounds (0.9 kg).
6. White Catfish
White catfish are native to the Atlantic coast of the United States, from Florida through New York. They are excellent table fare. Unlike channel fish, which have a forked tail, a white catfish has a round top.
They grow to be 2 to 4 pounds (0.9 to 2 kg) in weight when fully grown, but some may reach 10 pounds (4.5 kg). White catfish will consume fish, clams, crayfish, fruits, and berries when they are hungry.
7. Mekong Giant Catfish
Because of habitat destruction and overfishing, the Mekong giant catfish is considered to be critically endangered. The Mekong giant catfish lacks barbels and teeth, which makes them unusual. They have no stripes and have a gray to white coloring. This species of catfish feeds on zooplankton, algae, and larvae without the need for any teeth.
The Mekong giant catfish may grow from 330 pounds to 440 pounds (150 to 200 kg), making them the world’s biggest freshwater fish. Anglers allegedly weighed in the biggest Mekong catch ever, at 646 pounds (293 kg), according to locals. For the preservation of the Mekong giant catfish, a variety of programs are working hard.
What Catfish live in Aquariums?
Catfish have a fascinating appearance and personalities that are very different from other fish. Catfish have a deserved reputation among aquarium owners. Several of them look like they emerged from a Medieval adventure tale, while others are genuinely lovely.
8. Upside Down Catfish
When you observe a catfish swim upside down, you’ll get a chuckle out of it. Swimming upside-down is simple and convenient for Upside Downs, who prefer to eat the undersides of limbs and wood. These catfish will readily eat upside-down at the surface of their tank in your aquarium. They’re light brown with dots and spots, and they’ll reach a height of 4 inches (0.1 meter).
9. Striped Raphael Catfish
Striped Raphaels are commonly known for producing human-like conversing noises and may live between 12 to 20 years. Aquarium owners will find them appealing thanks to the talking feature. The heads of striped Raphaels are enormous, and the bodies are black and yellow. They have a flat abdomen and are more arrow-shaped. They are native to the Amazon, Orinoco, and Parnaíba River basins and may be found at the bottom of riverbeds.
10. Bumblebee Catfish
Bumblebees, a little catfish that grows to 3.5 inches (0.09 meter) and may survive for up to five years in optimum conditions, are another tiny species. Bumblebees have yellow and black stripes on their bodies, as one would expect from the name. Venezuela, Colombia, Peru, the Amazon basin, and other South American countries have vast bodies of flowing water where you may find this tropical fish. Bumblebee fish have wide, smiling faces that aquarium owners like for their distinguishing stripes. Sinking tablets or other sinking food are preferred by these catfish.
11. Iridescent Shark
His name comes from the fact that he is native to Asia and resembles a miniature shark. It is not recommended that iridescents be kept in aquariums since their limited space stunts their growth and may lead to early death. Iridescent sharks grow to be around 3 feet (0.9 meter) when left in nature. Iridescent sharks, on the other hand, may be an exceedingly interesting pet if you have the room for them. They’re calm and simple to look after, so they’re ideal for first-time owners. In a school of at least four fish, iridescents perform better.
12. Cory Catfish
Cory catfish grow up to 3 inches (0.08 meter) and live for 20 years, frequently found in aquariums and kept as pets. In a modest tank with few additional fish, Cory cats may flourish. Omnivores, corys will consume vegetation as well as other fish. The three-striped corys are the most common kind of cory catfish. There are numerous other species. Corys are suckermouth armored catfish that belong to the Corys family, which includes armored catfish with boney plates. Cory cats, on the other hand, are easy to care for and do not attack. They eat what they kill. They may be bashful and fearful when they’re alone.
13. Glass Catfish
Glass catfish are translucent and their name implies. Since of this, people refer to them as “Ghost Catfish” or “Phantom Catfish.” When you look at a glass catfish, you may see organs, bones, and other internal mechanisms. Their internal organs are centered around and behind their skull. Slow-moving rivers are where they usually call home, and aquariums are where they call home. Because of their extremely sensitive barbels, most glass catfish may sense electromagnetic waves in their surroundings.
14. Pictus Catfish
Pictus catfish are native to the Orinoco and Amazon River basins and can grow to be over 5 inches (0.12 meters) in length. They’re striped and spotted with black, and they have a gray to silver coloration. Because of their entertaining personalities, Pictus Catfish make excellent freshwater tank pets. They’re lovely, robust, and non-aggressive. They’re also simple to care for. Nocturnal and fond of hiding spots, Pictus catfish are a nocturnal species. They are both frightened and energetic, despite their shyness. Pictus catfish may be seen moving quickly and erratically during feeding time!
15. Otocinclus Catfish
Otto cats, or otocinclus catfish, are tiny creatures that only grow to two inches in length. In freshwater aquariums, they are non-aggressive and pet fish. Because of their tiny size, Otto cats are difficult to take care of. They’re great at removing algae from the sides of windows by licking or “sucking” it off. From Venezuela to northern Argentina, Otto cats are native to South America.
16. Bristlenose Pleco
Bristlenose catfish, like the otos, are algae eaters and make a excellent addition to tanks. The Bristlenose Pleco is a peaceful fish that may be kept easily. The bristlenose pleco grows up to 5 inches (0.12 meter) in length, considerably bigger than Otto cats. The distinctive wide head, flat body, and bony plates of another armored fish, Bristlenose catfish, stand out. They have white specks and are gray, brown, and green.
17. Chinese Algae Eater
Chinese algae eaters, also known as suckerfish or lemon algae eaters, are another algae-eating catfish. They may reach a little size of just 1 inch and can live up to ten years. These freshwater fish may be found all throughout Southeast Asia. Anglers and aquarists alike catch them for food. Suckerfish are a popular aquarium fish because of their gleaming golden color and black markings throughout their body.
Classification and Species of Catfish
Where species come from, and how they are connected, is better understood through taxonomy. In this section, we explore the seven levels of taxonomic categorization for catfish types.
I. Super Order – Ostariophysi
A swim bladder and a frightened reaction are characteristics of Ostariophysi.
II. Order – Siluriformes
Fins supported by flexible cartilage rays are used to identify Siluriformes.
III. Family – Ictaluridae
Bullheads, madtoms, channel catfish, and blue catfish are members of the Ictaluridae family of North American catfish.
IV. Genus – Ictalurus
The Greek word Ichthys, which means fish, is combined with the Greek word ailouros, which means cat.
V. Species – Ictalurus punctatus
The spots and stripes that may be seen on the sides of catfish are referred to as punctatus in Greek.
Types of Catfish Fun Facts: Most Common, Most Rare, Biggest, Smallest
Most Common Catfish
In North America, channel catfish is the most prevalent kind of catfish.
Most Rare Catfish
The Piebald Blue catfish, only found in the lower Mississippi River, is one of the world’s rarest catfishes.
The world’s biggest catfish species, the lau-lau, or piraiba, has been discovered. The lau-lau has a reputation as a man-eater, having been found in South America from the Amazon and Orinoco River basins to Argentina. The stomach contents of caught lau-lau have included parts of small mammals, despite the fact that catfish cannot eat humans. The high-quality flesh of the lau-lau makes them very desirable.
The 3.5 cm long Pareiorhina hyptiorhachis lives in the Paraíba do Sul basin, Brazil.
Impact of Climate Change
Climate change has been linked to rising water temperatures, which have harmed certain catfish species. Dr. In Nebraska, Spurgeon conducted research on channel catfish growth rates over the last 18 years.
The catfish growth rate increases in direct proportion to the temperature. Dr. This study was carried out in a variety of habitats by Spurgeon and his colleagues. Because of the climate change caused by climate change, they discovered that all catfish grew faster.
The Chesapeake Bay and the blue catfish study, for example, have found that Dr. Vaskar Nepal and Vaskar Nepal According to Mary Fabrizio, warming waters will attract invasive species like the blue catfish. Blue catfish may be able to expand and take over even more since they are robust and can tolerate greater salinity in the water. This is wonderful news for the blue catfish, but terrible news for their rivals, the native white catfish. Yellow perch, shad, crabs, and striped bass may be threatened by them as well.
Types of Predators of the Catfish
Since each catfish variety is so numerous, each species of catfish has a distinct list of predators. Nonetheless, the following are some of the most prevalent predators:
- Bird of prey
- Largemouth bass, perch, walleye, and pike are just a few of the fish that may be found.
- Large Lizards
Due to their size and defensive spines, large catfish species have fewer predators. Even when they have an armored shell, however, smaller catfish species may be vulnerable to predators. Catfish are also more vulnerable when they’re young, as are other species. Humans may become the only predators of certain catfish because they grow so large.
Some catfish have evolved the talent to administer an electric shock to predators who touch them as a defense mechanism. If they break the skin, some species have spines that inject venom.
Catfish World Records
Anglers like to catch catfish. Catfish are real game fish because they grow large and fight hard. The International Game Fish Association’s (IGFA) world record database has a quick look at these incredible world records and All-Tackle records.
Popular Recipes for Serving Catfish
The taste of catfish, as well as the nutrients it provides, is appealing to many. Since catfish is regarded a delicacy, Central Europeans offer it on feast days and holidays. Catfish is a common cuisine in the Southern United States and is quite popular.
The most common species of catfish in the United States served for food are the channels and the blues.
Traditional catfish recipes may be found all over the globe. A delectable pecel lele, for example, can be found in Indonesia. Ikan keli is a Malaysian dish that is fried and served with tamarind and chili gravy. In Hungary, catfish is prepared with pasta and cheese curds in a traditional paprika sauce. Catfish, lemongrass, ginger, garlic, pepper, banana stem, and other ingredients are included in the Myanmar dish mohinga. It is a traditional noodle fish soup.
Types of Catfish FAQ
Why do Catfish have Whiskers?
Little taste buds and olfactory sensors (taste and smell) are found on each whisker, or barbel, on a catfish. They aid the catfish in perceiving, smelling, and hunting during night. Barbels are especially useful when a catfish is hunting for food, since most catfish hunt at night or in murky waters. For them, it’s like having another set of eyes. The taste receptors detect enzymes in the water, which assists with locating food and warns the catfish of any danger in the region. Barbels are named after the Latin term Barbula, or “small beard.”
What Does a Catfish Eat?
Each kind of catfish is quite different, as shown by the list, and their eating habits are likewise. Omnivores dominate the catfish kingdom, although scavengers and herbivores exist. Catfish are naturally omnivorous and will consume algae, snails, and other catfish in the wild.
Insects, water beetles, crayfish, algae, plants, snails, worms, and fish eggs are all part of a typical wild catfish diet.
Catfish suck and swallow instead of biting, despite the fact that most have teeth. Small and inwardly inclined catfish teeth are common.
Larger catfish have been known to snack on bigger fish and frogs, just like Wels catfish.
Different eating habits exist in captive fish and farm-raised fish.
Food pellets intended for catfish are commonly fed to catfishes by humans. Farmers utilize floating pellets in warmer water. Pellets that sink in colder water are used by fish farmers. Farm-raised catfish get live feeder fish and worms as well.
Smelly, greasy feed is the preferred food for anglers when catfish are concerned. Scented baits, chicken liver, pellets, crayfish, night crawlers, and hotdogs will all be used.
Lures may also be used to catch catfish by anglers. To attract a catfish’s attention, concentrate on movement and vibration in your bait rather than intensely colored lures. You want your line to appear as though it has been injured.
When do Catfish Feed?
Catfish will eat all throughout the day and night, as opportunistic feeders. Catfish, on the other hand, are bottom feeders and remain closer to the bottom throughout the day.
During the yearly cycles, catfish feeding habits change. Catfish are most active in the sun during the winter, while they are calm and sedentary at night. Catfish prefer to swim to shallow waters at night in the summer, preferring cooler, deeper waters.
Late in the season, as they prepare for the winter months, there is a lot of catfish activity. For an angler looking to catch some catfish, late fall may be the best time.
Are Catfish Dangerous?
A catfish can’t kill a person, nor can it bite off a person’s finger. Catfish will not cause you to be injured that is life-threatening, even if some varieties of catfish have sharp fins. Catfish have inward-pointing teeth that are nothing more than sandpaper, as if you’ve ever caught one. Younger and smaller catfish have sharper fins, which are much more likely to maim you. We suggest minimizing the amount of time you touch small fins.
Is it Healthy to Eat Catfish?
When properly cooked, catfish is completely safe to eat. Vitamin D, B12, and omega-3 fatty acids are all present in small amounts in catfish. Catfish is a very popular dish that people enjoy.
The flesh of farm-raised catfish is thick and moist, with a mild flavor. Wild-caught catfish, on the other hand, have a milder, more natural flavor with a sweet aftertaste. Catfish lovers will appreciate the texture of whitefish (tilapia, haddock, flounder, and cod), but they will notice that it lacks the flakiness of whitefish.
For the culture and cuisine of soul food, catfish has become a staple food. Soul food is a term that refers to traditional Black American and rural Southern cuisine that is prepared at home. Since fish is a West African food staple, catfish became an important part of soul food. enslaved Africans discovered that catfish was plentiful in Southern lakes and rivers when they arrived with their culinary customs.