How Big Can Catfish Get? 

How Big Can Catfish Get

Catfish are known for their incredible whiskers throughout the world. It is a large-scale fish that may be found in both the sea and rivers. This fish is distinguished by its whiskers and fat. It has a cat-like appearance, either in its whiskers or in its jaw.

The dorsal and pectoral fins of the catfish feature spines that defend it from predators. It also has two barbels, one of which is bigger than the other, as well as a relatively wide head. 

Before talking about the size that a catfish can reach, it is important to highlight the fact that there are approximately 3000 species of this type of fish. Most of them live in freshwater environments, and we can find them in many parts of the world. 

When a catfish reaches its full maturity, we can find them in a wide variety of sizes, from very small (approximately 50 cm or even less) to the largest (more than 2 meters). Similarly, the maximum weight of the catfish fish can be about 200 kilograms.

However, it should be noted that the largest historically recorded catfish is known as the (giant Mekong catfish); it was caught in Mekong (a river in Thailand), and it weighed 293 kg and measured 2.7 meters long. 

In general terms, the average size of this type of fish varies between 1.2 and 1.6 meters, taking into account that catfish of 2 meters or more are not usually that common. In addition, in certain cases, they can exceed the weight of 100 kg and measure more than 2.5 meters. 

Why Can We Find Catfish of Many Sizes? 

That is because, as we have said before, there are approximately 3000 species of this type of fish, and each one has differences in specific characteristics, and one of the most obvious is its size. Not all types of catfish reach the same size and weight. 

We can find a great variety of catfish that can be differentiated either by their size or some other physical characteristic. The three primary species of catfish are: 

  • Blue catfish 
  • Flathead catfish 
  • Channel catfish 

Next, we will know a little about these fish, including their size: 

Blue Catfish 

The blue catfish is a large smooth-skinned fish with a blue body and whiskers around its mouth known as barbels. The Mississippi river basins, which include the Rio Grande, Missouri, Tennessee, Ohio, and Arkansas, are home to this fish. This catfish prefers mud, gravel, or sand in big rivers and reservoirs. 

These catfish can reach a size that varies between 0.64 and 1.16 meters depending on their diet in the area where they live. These fish can feed on crayfish, shad, mussels, and blue crabs, allowing them to reach a weight that varies between 18 kg and 45 kg. 

There have been stories of blue catfish reaching 350 pounds in the Mississippi River since the late 1800s, yet none of this magnitude has been formally captured or examined. Size, weight, and growth rate are all affected by baitfish availability and population density. 

Flathead Catfish 

The flathead catfish is a considerably bigger and more frequent species of catfish. Because of its greater size, it is one of the ugliest freshwater catfish. On the hook and line, you’ll find them putting up a solid fight. Flathead catfishing is essential for both commercial and recreational purposes, and it is frequently performed at night. 

In places like the United States, flatheads are one of the fastest-growing fish. When it is young, it usually weighs between 4.5 and 6.8 kg. Adults, on the other hand, can grow to weigh more than 45 kilograms.  

Flatheads gain 0.9-2.2 m every year between the ages of 3 and 8. Between the ages of 4 and 6, these catfish attain sexual maturity, and they live for an average of 20 years. It should be noted that this is only average data and that different factors could influence the speed and magnitude of growth. 

Regarding its size, we can assure you that this type of catfish can reach between 0.9 m and 1.2 m in length. 

Channel Catfish 

The blue cat, chucklehead cat, spotted cat, and willow cat are all names for the Channel catfish.  

It’s called a catfish since its barbels resemble a cat’s whiskers. The channel catfish is the official fish of Iowa, Nebraska, Missouri, Kansas, and Tennessee. 

The top-end size of a channel catfish is around 18–23 kg. It should be noted that the largest channel catfish ever weighed 26 kg and was caught in the Santee-Cooper Reservoir in South Carolina.

Generally, anglers usually find channel catfish of about 0.9-1.8 kg. Regarding its length, this catfish usually reaches a size between 30.5 and 61 cm long and between 5 and 11.4 cm high.