Often used interchangeably in many culinary applications, you may be wondering what the differences are between swai vs catfish. While both of these fish are delicious, there are many things that set them apart from one another, including their geographical locations and appearances.
In this article, we will address some of the key differences between swai and catfish, including their appearances, habitat preferences, individual behaviors, and their lifespans. Not only will you be able to identify these two fish, you should be able to glean information about their personalities and life cycles as well. Let’s get started!
Comparing Swai vs Catfish
|Size||2-4 feet; 50-100 pounds||12-24 inches; 15-40 pounds|
|Appearance||Silver and gray coloring with distinct sharklike dorsal fin||Olive or gray in color and the younger fish have spots on them; small dorsal fin|
|Location and Habitat||Asia; found in rivers or more often on fish farms||Worldwide depending on the species; and waterway with a low current|
|Behavior||Eats just about everything; swims upstream to spawn||Enjoys wide variety of bait; often the most common catfish caught|
|Lifespan||5-18 years||10-20 years|
Key Differences Between Swai vs Catfish
There are many key differences between swai and catfish. The majority of swai grow larger than catfish do. Swai are rarely found in wild rivers, while catfish thrive in rivers and streams throughout the United States and Asia. Both of these fish aren’t particularly picky eaters, but you can catch catfish frequently, while swai is often farm raised for commercial use.
Let’s talk about all of these differences in more detail now.
Swai vs Catfish: Size and Weight
While it depends on the particular species of catfish, there are some serious size differences between swai and catfish. The average swai grows anywhere from 2-4 feet in length, while your average catfish only grows 1-2 feet long. This means that their weight differences are vast as well.
While some catfish grow insanely large, the average swai far outweighs the average catfish. For example, swai reach 50-100 pounds easily, while catfish average 20-40 pounds, depending on their species. Some types of catfish exceed 100 pounds, similar to swai, though this is not frequently the case.
Swai vs Catfish: Location and Habitat Preferences
There are some key differences between swai and catfish based on their locations and habitat preferences. Swai are native to Asia, and catfish are found around the world in one species or another. However, the majority of catfish caught are from the United States or North America as a whole, while Swai are only fished for in Asia.
There are certain catfish species found in Asia as well, but swai and catfish do not mingle. This is partially due to the fact that swai are bred in captivity for fish farming and commercial purposes. The average catfish lives its life in the wild, while swai rarely reach a natural river or stream.
However, there are still some differences between these two fish, should they both exist naturally in the wild. For example, many catfish prefer slow moving or moderate bodies of water, while swai enjoy swimming upstream in fast paced rivers. Swai are considered endangered in their natural habitats, while catfish are not threatened in any way.
Swai vs Catfish: Appearance
The appearance of a swai differs greatly from a catfish. Swai are unique in their two toned appearance, with a dark gray or silver upper body and a beige underbelly, while catfish are often one uniform color. However, it depends on the specific type of catfish as to whether or not this is true. Some types of catfish have spots or varying colors, but swai are always a beautiful gray or silver color.
Speaking of beautiful, swai differ from catfish in that they have iridescent tips to their fins and tails. They almost glow, while catfish maintain a humble and neutral appearance comparatively. Finally, you can tell the difference between a swai and a catfish based on their fin appearances.
The swai has a dorsal fin that looks almost exactly like a shark’s, while catfish have a rounded or subtle dorsal fin appearance. Catfish also have pronounced whiskers, while swai do not. The overall appearance of a catfish seems much more smooth, while swai appear more scaly.
Swai vs Catfish: Behavior
There are some key differences in the behaviors of swai and catfish. Swai are not picky eaters in the least, while some types of catfish prefer fresh bait compared to artificial bait. Catfish also populate a wide variety of different bodies of water, while swai only occupy a few rivers in Asia and are otherwise farmed.
Swai vs Catfish: Lifespan
A final difference between swai and catfish is their distinct lifespans. Very little is known about the lifespan of the wild swai, given their endangered status. However, it is estimated that catfish live much longer lives than swai, both in captivity and in the wild. This is likely due to their size, but it could also simply be a guess based on our limited knowledge of wild swai.
Given that swai are farm raised for food, their lifespan is cut short. Catfish live longer lives by default, so long as they aren’t fished and eaten for dinner. However, swai likely live similarly long lifespans to catfish- if they are ever allowed the time to live!
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