Most of the humans are omnivores. Apart from consuming plant-based diets, they also feed on other animals to fulfill their protein requirement. Fishes are the most common protein source for humans. Many people prefer eating catfish because they contain ample amounts of proteins along with healthy fats, minerals, and important vitamins. They are popular fish among all. But what do catfish like to eat?
This article is about to discuss what a catfish eats and what its diet is. Also by the end of this article, we will discuss many interesting facts about catfish.
This article will even help you if you are planning to start a catfish farm because before starting a catfish culture farm, the main thing you should know is that feeding the wrong diet to the catfishes might affect their growth.
1. Where are Catfishes Found in the Wild?
Approximately, there are around 3000 different kinds of catfishes known now. Mostly catfish prefer to reside in deep pools where they can hide behind trunks and stones so that they can escape the predators.
Catfish can also be found in the deep ocean as well. But the majority of them can be seen lurking in the bottom of the freshwater lakes and rivers.
Catfish are also found in brackish and saltwater environments. Arius catfish can be found in brackish water areas where the sea is met with fresh water.
Blind cave catfish are habituated to live in dark caves and underwater rivers.
2. Different Catfish Species
Catfishes are a diverse family of fish as there are numerous different kinds of catfish species seen across the world. As we have already talked before, there are approximately 3000 kinds of catfish known.
Some famous species among these are blue catfish, flathead catfish, channel catfish, and white catfish. Each catfish has their respective characteristics and habitat.
We can also find many different species of catfish in India too. Stinging catfish, walking catfish, pangas catfish, striped catfish, and sea catfish are famous in our country.
Walking catfishes can move over land too. During the monsoon season, we can witness this when the habitat of the catfish becomes inundated.
3. Blue Catfish and Channel Catfish
Blue catfish having a binomial name as “Ictalurus furcatus” is a popular catfish that is mostly found in North America. They are bluish-grey and have a white belly. They are heavier than channel catfish weighing around 100 pounds. These fishes prefer large bodies of water where they can live deep.
Additionally, Channel catfish (Ictalurus punctatus) is also a well-renowned catfish from North America which is grey to brown and has a white belly. In addition, young channel catfishes have dark spots on their body. They range from 12 to 24 inches large in size. Their favorite place includes shallower waters.
4. Catfish Lifecycle
The life cycle of a catfish begins with the laying of eggs by mature female catfish. After this, we can observe the larval stage of the catfish. These larvae are tiny and have simple anatomical features.
The next stage is the sub-adult stage. The baby catfish continues to grow by taking food for metabolism. The baby catfish eat insects.
And when they attain a certain age they reach the adult stage where they are sexually mature. Besides this can depend upon the environmental conditions and the species.
5. What Does Catfish Eat in the Wild?
Like humans, catfishes are omnivores that feed on plants and meat. A special thing about them is that they are not picky eaters. They will eat anything from decayed matter to snails and worms. Whatever they can swallow, they are ready to consume them.
Adult catfish diets are different from what a young catfish eats. Adult catfish eat fish but young catfish eat aquatic insects.
Loricariidae catfish are quite different from others because they prefer wood and algae over other foods.
The most common foods taken by catfishes are algae, small fishes, aquatic insects, aquatic plants, crayfish, snails and worms, plants, fish eggs, shrimps, and bluegill.
6. How do Wild Catfish Hunt?
Although different types of catfish have different feeding habits, their hunting methods are similar. Also, catfishes are renowned for having barbels which are similar to whiskers.
Catfishes use these barbels to sense the taste and smell of their prey.
So anything that is in short distance with a catfish having a smell becomes prey for it undoubtedly.
7. What are the Feeding Habits of Wild Catfish?
Most of the catfishes are opportunity seekers. They always try to maximize their food intake. So they feed both during day time and night time.
But to the surprise, the African catfish is the only catfish that is completely nocturnal.
The dietary habits of a catfish might differ depending on their age, species, and the season.
White catfish can be seen consuming more worms and insects than blue catfish. The latter predominantly consume fish, aquatic plants, crustaceans, mollusks, and insects.
8. Nutritional Requirements for Catfish
For a catfish to grow healthy and stay strong enough, there are some nutritional requirements for them. They need a balanced diet that contains proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals.
8.1) Protein Requirement
Undoubtedly proteins play an important role in healthy growth. Catfish also need a diet that is rich in protein.
For this, a catfish consumes fish meal, squid meal, and shrimp meal as these are foods rich in providing protein.
8.2) Carbohydrate Requirement
Carbohydrates are the main source of energy. Without carbohydrates, metabolism doesn’t take place in one’s body. They keep the catfish in good weight.
Foods like barley, wheat, corn, and grains are rich in carbohydrates which can be fed to catfishes.
8.3) Fat Requirement
Fats are also crucial elements in a catfish’s diet. Fats also provide energy and maintain the health of the catfish.
Soybean oil and fish oil can be great sources of fats in catfish’s diet.
8.4) Vitamins and Minerals Requirement
For the good health and development of a catfish, vitamins and minerals are required. Catfish specifically require vitamins A, D, and E in their diet.
Talking minerals, especially phosphorus and calcium support the health of the fish’s bones and also teeth.
9. What Does Farm-Raised Catfish Eat?
Catfishes raised on the farm are usually fed with pellets. Approximately 30 percent of protein is present in catfish pellets. These are given according to the temperature of the water.
When the water is over 18 degrees Celsius, floating pellets are advised. And between 15 to 18 degrees Celsius, slow-sinking pellets are utilized. And for below 15 degrees Celsius temperature, sinking pellets should be used.
Especially in winter, these catfish become inactive deep inside the water and never come above the water body surface.
Farm-raised catfishes can additionally get other foods as well like live fish, worms, and some fresh food. Oxygen levels in the water also affect their eating. So make sure that the oxygen inside the water is sufficient and then only feed catfish.
10. Diet of Wild Catfish
Similar to farm-raised catfish, wild catfish also refuse to eat when the levels of oxygen are low inside the water.
But this is not a big problem for wild catfishes because they live in rivers and lakes where there is a constant flow of water and there is no scope for contamination of water.
Many fishermen catch catfish by using pellets as bait for them. Wild catfish can choose different natural foods available in the water bodies. But they prefer to eat other fish
Pond catfishes gain weight when fed in winters whereas river catfish will lose weight at the same time. The amount of weight loss depends upon the temperature. In winter, the wild catfish might lose 9 percent of their body mass.
11. What is the Best Bait for Catfish?
Previously we discussed that catfishes grab the smell quickly to catch their prey, so stinky foods would always be a good option for choosing bait.
Some of the homemade baits to feed catfish are chicken liver, hot dogs, night crawlers, stinky baits, crayfish, and crawfish.
Catfishes are not having a good sight, especially in murky waters. So using foods that have a lot of movement can be a better bait to catch them. The catfish thinks that as an injured fish.
We can also buy stink baits in stores which many fishermen will do to catch these catfishes.
In the conclusion of this article, catfishes are diverse creatures. There are many catfish species.
The feeding habits of the different types of catfish vary depending on their location, climate, and their species. Many catfishes are opportunistic feeders that will eat anything available including algae, fish, worms, and insects.
Fishermen may choose any bait in these foods that catfish eat. They provide the fishermen with numerous opportunities for choosing bait.
Above all, catfishes have exceptionally high levels of senses. They use their barbels to sense their prey by smelling them with those barbels. Furthermore, they can be able to detect the movement of the prey as well.
Finally, there are many kinds of catfish found across the world. At the same time, every catfish has different characteristics and habitats. They are easily found in rivers, lakes, ponds, and in large water bodies.[amazon_auto_links id="280559"]