What Do Catfish Like to Eat? 

What Do Catfish Like to Eat

Catfish are distinguished by long barbels that protrude from the sides of their faces, resembling cat whiskers. The channel catfish, blue catfish, and flathead catfish are the most common of the almost 3,000 species of catfish. Although the majority of the species reside in freshwater, some, such as the hardhead catfish, do live in saltwater. 

They are able to live on very little water and oxygen. When there is a drought, this type of catfish has been known to excavate holes beneath rivers to shelter until the rainy months’ return. They also eat a very adaptable diet, which is exactly what allows them to thrive in harsh environments. 

The majority of catfish species are omnivorous. They eat a wide range of foods and could even eat decayed matter. Some of the foods these fish love to eat are the following: 

Table of Contents

Fish and Fish Eggs 

Catfish enjoy catching and eating other fish. They prefer to eat fish that are considerably smaller than themselves, and they can also devour the carcasses of bigger fish. The majority of catfish are cannibalistic as well. They will eat smaller catfish, and cannibalism is a severe hazard in catfish farms while growing fry and larvae. 


Catfish will devour any insects that reside in the water or fall into it. Young catfish eat aquatic insects such as water beetles, dragonfly larvae, mosquito larvae, fly larvae, and other similar insects. To catch catfish, you could use a variety of insects as bait, including earthworms, grasshoppers, and crickets. 

Aquatic Plants 

Plant stuff is also consumed by catfish. They’ll eat water lettuce, lotus plants, algae, and a variety of other aquatic plants that grow in the water. They could also eat non-aquatic plants such as soft leaves and grasses that fall into the water. This type of fish could also eat detritus, which is aquatic plant matter. 


This type of fish will eat a variety of crustaceans that they locate in their natural habitat. Lobsters, decapods, crabs, water fleas, crawfish, water flies, isopods, procambium, cherax, and a variety of other creatures are excellent feeds for this fish. 


The parasitic nature of some catfish species, such as the Candiru, is well known. This sort of fish will cling to its target and feed on its host’s blood. 

Fruits and Vegetables 

To guarantee that a pet catfish gets enough nutrients, owners are generally encouraged to feed them vegetables and fruits. Certain vegetables can be served cooked or raw and cooled.

Suppose you can’t find natural detritus or algae to give your catfish. In that case, you can provide them with fruits and vegetables like bananas, apples, broccoli, strawberries, cabbage, and a variety of other items as a supplement. 


Carrion meat is a beloved food of catfish. They will eat almost any dead animal they come across floating in the water. Catfish will even scavenge on the carcasses of bigger animals, such as deer or cows, and are content to eat partially deteriorated meat. 

Small Animals 

Catfish also enjoy hunting and eating tiny animals like lizards, rats, mice, pigeons, small birds, frogs, and a variety of other creatures. These species are frequently caught as they fall into the water, or catfish may snare animals such as birds or frogs from the riverbank or above the water. 

Commercial Fish Food 

Catfish will eat almost any commercial fish meal you put in front of them. Fish flakes with high protein content are an excellent dietary option for fry. Other commercial fish supplies, such as pellets, are also a good choice for bigger catfish to help them stay healthy. 

Do All Catfish Eat the Same? 

The foods that we have mentioned are some of the most important. Recall that catfish are omnivorous fish that can eat a wide range of foods such as insects, fish eggs, small fish species, algae, crayfish, plants, snails, worms, small mammals, water beetles, and shrimps. 

However, this is just generally speaking. It should be noted that not all types of catfish eat the same: 

  • Fish and big invertebrates are the main foods of blue catfish.  
  • Fish, clams, insects, snails, plants, crabs, small mammals, and tiny birds are all eaten by channel catfish
  • Fish, insects, and crustaceans are preferred by flathead catfish

How Much Food and How Often Do Catfish Eat? 

This is important to know if you have a catfish as a pet. A catfish should eat roughly 2.5 % of its body weight each day as a general guideline. If you don’t have a scale, this could be difficult to establish.  

You may just keep an eye on your catfish to determine if it is eating properly. Fill the tank with its food and keep a watch on your pet. If it eats all of the food in a matter of seconds, you must add more. You can clean the tank and lower the amount of meal you give daily if there is too much food left. 

Summer is when catfish are most energetic. The temperature of the water speeds up their metabolism, and they begin to eat significantly more than in previous seasons. Feed a catfish once a day. Seven times per week is also a great option. 

Do Young Catfish Consume the Same Amount of Food as Adult Catfish? 

The diets of young and adult catfish vary. In a study of channel catfish conducted in Central Italy, specialists looked at the diets of this type of fish to see how they differed. Males and females appear to have comparable diets; however, the diets of young and older catfish were shown to be different.  

Phytoplankton and detritus were found in the stomachs of the smaller catfish. Red swamp crayfish and topmouth gudgeon (a little fish approximately the size of your forefinger) were found in the stomachs of mature catfish.

According to this investigation, catfish could handle bigger fish and crayfish as they get larger themselves. 

How Do This Type of Fish Eat? 

They are continually on the search for food as they are scavengers. They appear to love fresh food but will devour any accessible dead animals or fish.

The barbels on a catfish’s face are used to detect prey. Barbels use their senses of smell and taste to help them discover food in the dark, muddy waters where they reside.