Fun Catfish Facts For Kids

Moumita Dutta
Jan 13, 2023 By Moumita Dutta
Originally Published on Aug 05, 2021
Edited by Jacob Fitzbright
Fact-checked by Deeti Gupta
Catfish fish facts are quite interesting to read about.

Catfish is a breed that has almost 3000 species of its own with a wide range of sizes from 1.5 in (4 cm) to a maximum of 177 in (450 cm). Most of the catfish can be spotted at the mouth of the river as they require less amount of oxygen.

On the contrary, sometimes when the water has less amount of dissolved oxygen, a few other species of this fish swim to the surface of the water and gulp the air and oxygen with their mouth too.

A catfish's dorsal and pectoral spines consist of venom that helps them to protect themselves from danger. When sensing danger, they might bite a human finger or even snap at the hand while being caught.

Hence they can be hurtful to humans. If one wants to keep them as a pet, the water requirements would be around 70F to 80F as they thrive to live in warmer water.

For more interesting animal facts, check out piranha and Siamese fighting fish.

Catfish Interesting Facts

What type of animal are catfish?

Catfish are animals that can be categorized as ray-finned fish.

What class of animal do catfish belong to?

Catfish belong to the Actinopterygii class of animal category.

How many catfish are there in the world?

There are over 2900 species of catfish like the most popular channel catfish, or giant catfish, Wels catfish, and many other catfish species. Due to their wide population, the exact number of them being alive in the world is unavailable.

Where do catfish live?

Catfish is the kind of fish that can be found in rivers as well as large reservoir waters of every continent. They are mainly found in lakes, ponds, sluggish and swiftly flowing streams with sand, mud, rubble, or gravel bottom.

What is a catfish's habitat?

The catfish can be found in tropical and coastal waters of almost every continent. They live in different rivers with a habitat favorable in the regions of South America, North America, Asia, Africa, Australia, and Europe.

Who do catfish live with?

Catfish, even though don't mind living alone, when kept in an aquarium, grow together feeding in the same aquarium. A group of these giant catfish species living together can also be called schools, knots, or balls of catfish.

How long do catfish live?

All the species of catfish are known to live a minimum of 50 to 60 years of age. One of the oldest and the longest living catfish found in the Mississippi River is known to have lived for 170 years.

How do they reproduce?

Catfish species are known to spawn after two or three years of their maturity age. This usually happens during the warmer months with warm water temperatures.

As the species of catfish are known to be monogamous in nature, the male and the female fish try to build their relationship well before the summertime.

The spawning process is quite interesting as the male and the female catfish swim together and release the eggs and the sperm at the same time in their nests.

The egg takes around 10 days of incubation period during which some species of catfish are known to take care of the eggs until they hatch. The male catfish then looks after the young ones' food, and other requirements until they are a week old, after which the babies leave the nest to live their own life.

What is their conservation status?

With a wide range of species of fish, catfish have around 2,900 species of their own spread across every continent's coastal areas, except the Antarctic regions. Out of the species of catfish that were able to be evaluated, the IUCN lists four species as Near Threatened, 22 as Vulnerable, six as Endangered and nine as Critically Endangered.

Catfish Fun Facts

What do catfish look like?

Most catfish have flat, broad, and bony heads that add to their lack or reduced gas bladders resulting in a body that would rather sink than float. They have a few whiskers, or barbels as they are known.

Catfish are known to live in dark waters making it difficult to have clear vision; in such cases, these whiskers or barbels play an important part as they are made with loads of taste buds and sensations that help the catfish to locate food to eat its prey whenever nearby.

The catfish is not one of the prettiest looking fish, neither in the river nor in the aquarium.

That is also because their slippery body, which has no scales, is always covered in mucus. They are spotted in different colors, mostly in ivory white, pale gray, and yellow.

They have different species and have various names based on their visible traits, for instance, the bristle whisker catfish, blue catfish, spotted Raphael catfish, albino cory catfish, red tail catfish, black catfish, glass catfish, or the likes based on their color or texture.

How cute are they?

There are very few rare species of catfish that might look cute and unique, for instance, the whiptail catfish and the ghost catfish. Most of the others, even though rare, do not usually count as the cutest or pretty looking fish, especially the stone catfish, gulper catfish, or the giant catfish known as the Mekong catfish.

How do they communicate?

Catfish is one of the smart fish species that is also capable of making different kinds of sounds to communicate with its kind.

The fish can generate sounds that can be classified into two types based on their processes, namely, stridulation sounds and drumming sounds. They can also make out a particular sound's distance based on the vibrations caused in the water.

Apart from sounds, catfish have a finesse of locating their food with their skin as there are taste receptors in their skin and their barbels detect slight changes in the water's pH level, which also helps them locate nearby food.

How big are catfish?

The catfish species can be as small as 1.5 inches (4 cm) in size and can grow up to 100 inches (254 cm). One of the largest catfish has been noted to be as big as 177 inches (450 cm) in size.

How fast can catfish swim?

Some species of catfish are all bottom-feeders, meaning that their feeding process usually happens at the ground level of the water bodies. Hence they can go as deep as 98 ft to 230 ft (30 to 70 meters) and can swim at a speed of around 2.6 miles per hour to catch their food or travel.

How much do catfish weigh?

Shadow catfish and the other small catfish that can be kept in small aquariums are recorded to grow to an average length of 1.8 in (4.6 cm), thus being very light in weight.

On the other hand, the bigger species of the catfish like the bullhead catfish, armored catfish, channel catfish, or giant catfish can weigh as much as 220 lb (100 kg).

The largest catfish that has been found recorded a weight of 660 lb (293 kgs).

What are their male and female names of the species?

One might find more than 2000 species of catfish with different names and characteristics like wels catfish, hardhead catfish, spoonbill catfish, and so on. However, there are no different names for the catfish based on their gender; they are simply known as female catfish and male catfish.

What would you call a baby catfish?

Just as the other fish, the baby that hatches from the catfish egg is called a fry.

What do they eat?

Catfish have non-traditional teeth. These catfish teeth are more like thousands of sandpaper tilted on the inside to help them grab their prey better. Their food list includes small fish, insects along with their larvae, small birds, aquatic plants, seeds, crustaceans, as well as smaller catfish.

Are they eaten by humans?

Catfish are known as popular catches during the fishing sessions for the fishers. Although the catfish has omega 6, way more than the productive omega 3, the blackened catfish is always considered as one of the famous dishes that are served in restaurants for humans.

Would they make a good pet?

These fish are perfect as a pet. Catfish species are used to staying clean and are responsible for keeping their surroundings cleaner.

This is one of the reasons they can make a great pet. Along with that, catfish can co-exist along with others of their kind as well as a few other aggressive fishes like the betta fighting fish in the same aquarium.

Did you know...

Catfish can live for 15 to 18 hours after taking them out of water. They can stay fresh for two to three days when they are kept in favorable wet conditions.

This is usually done because catfish is a popular fish. This is especially due to its high supply of protein, vitamin B12, and omega 3 fats. They are healthier than salmon in some cases due to their lower calories.

Catfish are served either fried or as baked delicacies. They make great soups and broths as their skin is thick and does not melt during the preparation.

Although catfish hold so much health value, eating them is banned in many places. That is because a few toxic catfish, found especially in North America, have been noted to contain a mild venom which the catfish uses to save itself in threatening situations.

When these catfishes are used for meals, they would react with the health and hence are considered to be dangerous for humans. The catfish sting can also cause similar pain as a bee sting for the humans catching it, hence the catchers need to be careful while fishing.

How many eggs can a catfish lay per year?

Catfish species is known for its ability to lay hundreds and thousands of eggs at once. This fish would mate with the partner at least once a year during the warm months of summer.

The giant catfish or other species of female fish lay a minimum of 3,000 or 4,000 eggs in the water. They can lay as many as 50,000 eggs per year.

How many taste buds do catfish have?

A catfish is known to have at least 100,000 taste buds. These taste buds cover every part of its body as they help the catfish to not just sense the presence of food, but also danger or even detect different chemicals present in the water even at night.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other fish including the Chinese paddlefish and the silver dollar.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our catfish coloring pages.

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Written by Moumita Dutta

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

Moumita Dutta picture

Moumita DuttaBachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

A content writer and editor with a passion for sports, Moumita has honed her skills in producing compelling match reports and stories about sporting heroes. She holds a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management, Calcutta University, alongside a postgraduate diploma in Sports Management.

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Fact-checked by Deeti Gupta

Bachelor of Arts specializing in English Literature

Deeti Gupta picture

Deeti GuptaBachelor of Arts specializing in English Literature

A detail-oriented fact-checker with a research-oriented approach. Devika has a passion for creative writing, she has been published on multiple digital publishing platforms and editorials before joining the Kidadl team. Currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from St.Xavier's College, Deeti has won several accolades and writing competitions throughout her academic career.

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