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What Do Catfish Eat?

Last updated date: 05th Mar 2024
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What is a Catfish?

Catfish is a type  of fish that has one or more than one pair of whiskers like feelers around its mouth which are known as barbels that help the organism to feel and taste. To date, we have discovered around 2500 different species of catfish. These organisms are related to other organisms like crap, minnows, etc. 

Catfish are present on almost all continents, most of the species can survive in both freshwater and seawater, but they are mainly found in freshwater. In this article we will study about these amusing organisms in a little detail, throwing special light on what they feed on.

Catfish Picture

Catfish Picture

Catfish Picture;  A Different Species of Catfish

Catfish Picture;  A Different Species of Catfish

Helicopter Catfish

Wallago attu is a species of catfish that is exclusively found in freshwater and is also known as the helicopter catfish or wallago catfish.

Helicopter Catfish

Helicopter Catfish

The helicopter Catfish is a native of South and Southeast Asia. It is relatively the larger size among the various different species of catfish, it is mostly one metre in length and is usually found in large and widespread water bodies. It can be differentiated from the other species of catfish by its characteristically long and narrow head and its dorsal fin which is high and sharp, unlike the other species. 

The helicopter catfish is one of the many species which has been used as a source of food in south Asia for many decades.

What Do Catfish Eat?

Catfish are scavengers or decomposers thus they are always looking for food as they swim around in their natural habitat. The barbels on their mouth help them locate their food, they usually prefer fresh food but they can also eat dead animals or plants. The barbels help them sense and smell the food as well as they help them taste the food.

A Catfish Eating a Small Fish

A Catfish Eating a Small Fish

They mainly eat a variety of small fishes, crayfish, snails, calms, and even frogs. They can also eat algae and dead plants or fish floating in the water. 

Their predators include us humans, crocodiles, some large birds, etc.

Getting Catfished Meaning

The term getting catfished or catfishing refers to a scam or malicious activity on any online platform. Catfishing means posing as someone else or identifying yourself as someone else on an online platform. It comes from the fact that a catfish is actually a fish but because of its barbels, it looks like a cat thus its name.

Sample Questions

1. Explain briefly the growth pattern of a catfish.

Ans: Just like plants, catfish continue to grow throughout their lives.

2. Name some species of catfish. 


  • Channel Catfish

  • Blue Catfish

  • Flathead Catfish

Learn by Doing

Complete the statements that follow by filling in the blanks:

1. The _______ of a catfish gives it a cat-like appearance. 

Ans: barbels

2. The barbel on their mouth helps them to ______ and _______

Ans: smell, taste.

3. Catfish are ________.

Ans: Scavengers

4. The scientific name of helicopter catfish is ________.

Ans: Wallago Attu

5. Catfish are natives of ______ and _________ Asia.

Ans: South, South East.


A Catfish is a type of fish that is mainly found in freshwater but can also survive in seawater. To date, more than 2500 different species of catfish have been discovered. One such species is the helicopter catfish which is a native of south and southeast Asia and is majorly found in large and widespread water bodies. Catfish is a scavenger or a decomposer that can eat a variety of things like some small fish, snails, calms, frogs, algae dead plants, and dead fishes. Catfishing means posing as somebody else other than your actual self on some online platform.

FAQs on What Do Catfish Eat?

1. How long does a catfish live?

Different species of catfish have different life spans. The longest living species of catfish lives for about 24 years. However, not all catfishes live up to their expected life span. 

2. Why do catfish have barbels which make them look like a cat?

A catfish has whisker-like feelers known as barbels around its mouth which make it look like a cat. The barbels are a very vital body part of a catfish as it helps the organism in finding and locating its prey and is also responsible for the sense of taste of the organisms. 

3. Can catfish survive out of water?

Yes, catfishes can surprisingly survive for several hours when outside water, some species can breathe in air and when caught outside water they can walk back to a more suitable habitat which is water on their pectoral fins, while some species can absorb the oxygen from their skin if kept wet.