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Electric catfish (Malapterurus electricus)
Catfish, Montreal Biodome
A young male Bristlenose Catfish
Striped eel catfish (Plotosus lineatus)
Channel Catfish (Ictalurus punctatus)
Catfish are a group of bottom-feeding fish that are found in freshwater habitats and coastal regions on and around every continent in the world with the exception of Antarctica. Catfish are most easily identified by their flattened broad heads and the long whisker-like barbels that protrude from the mouth of the catfish.

The long barbels of the catfish contain the taste buds of the catfish and so are often most commonly used for smelling and therefore sensing what is about to eat (and to hide from) in the surrounding waters. Despite the name however, not all catfish species have prominent whisker-like barbels.

There are nearly 3,000 known species of catfish in the world but it is thought that the actual number of catfish species could be as high as 4,500 as many species of catfish are found in areas where there is little or no human contact. Although catfish can generally be found in faster-flowing rivers and streams, some catfish species have adapted to living in shallow salt-water environments while other catfish species live their lives in caves underground.

The average catfish is around a meter in length usually slightly less depending on the species. Catfish however can range in size from just a centimetre in length to more than two meters long. The largest species of catfish is the Mekong catfish, which is found inhabiting parts of the Mekong river that flows through Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. The largest Mekong catfish ever found measured nearly 3 meters in length.

Catfish generally have a carnivorous diet, although the tiny catfish species have been known to ingest small aquatic plants. Catfish tend to feed on fish, insects and worms that dwell close to the river bed, along with amphibians such as frogs and newts and occasionally small reptiles and mammals.

Due to the wide diversity and range of the catfish, the catfish has numerous predators all around the world. Large fish, amphibians, reptiles, mammals and even birds all prey on the 3,000 different catfish species.

Female catfish spawn (lay their eggs) close to the surface of the water where they are safe from other bottom-dwelling aquatic animals. Female catfish lay between 10 and 90 little eggs at a time which hatch in less than a week.

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Catfish Translations

Indonesian Bahasa Indonesia
Malay Bahasa Melayu
Ikan Keli
Danish Dansk
German Deutsch
English English
French Français
Croatian Hrvatski
Italian Italiano
Pesce gatto
Latin Latina
Dutch Nederlands
Norwegian Norsk
Polish Polski
Portuguese Português
Finnish Suomi
Swedish Svenska
Malartade fiskar
Chinese 中文

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Catfish Facts

Five groups that classify all living things...
A group of animals within the animal kingdom...
A group of animals within a pylum...
A group of animals within a class...
Scientific Name:
Comprised of the genus followed by the species...
The area where the animal first came from...
Warm freshwater
What kind of foods the animal eats...
Size (L):
How long (L) or tall (H) the animal is...
1cm - 270cm (0.4in - 106in)
Water Type:
Either freshwater, brakish or salt...
Optimum pH Level:
The perfect acidity conditions for the animal...
6.5 - 8.0
Life Span:
How long the animal lives for...
8 - 20 years
Conservation Status:
The likelihood of the animal becoming extinct...
The colour of the animal's coat or markings...
Brown, Black, Yellow, White, Tan, Grey
Skin Type:
The protective layer of the animal...
Favourite Food:Fish
The specific area where the animal lives...
Fast-flowing rivers and lakes
Average Clutch Size:
The average number of eggs laif at once...
Main Prey:
The food that the animal gains energy from...
Fish, Frogs, Worms
Other animals that hunt and eat the animal...
Large Fish, Birds, Mammals, Reptiles
Distinctive Features:
Characteristics unique to the animal...
Flat, broad head and whiskers

Related Animals

There are over 2,000 known species!