13 Different Types of Catfish

Different Types of Catfish Explained

Different Types of Catfish – Catfishing sounds simple.

Wait until it gets dark. Run a large hook through the liver. Add a weight to allow you to cast.

But not so quickly!

You will learn more about catfish and how they behave.

Wildlife biologists have many surprises for catmen, including a preference for live fish!

Learn more about the three most popular species of catfish.

Continue reading…

What do Catfish Species Share in Common?

The U.S. Catmen face off against three species common to them: the blue, channel and flathead.

This flathead is giving the photographer the evil eyes!

They are all catfish, and they share a lot of common traits. However, they each have their own hunting preferences and prey preferences.

These differences will help you to target the species that you are after and increase your chances of landing them.

Negative Buoyancy

Many fish are buoyant and will float to the surface. Cats are different! They are ideal bottom feeders, thanks to their small swim bladder and bony heads.

Look at the very bottom if you are looking for large cats.

Catfish have a “smell and taste” for their skin

Catfish have thick, leathery skin with many chemoreceptors. These chemoreceptors allow them to sense and taste water and can easily detect prey items in dark, murky, muddy or stained water.

Many anglers believe that nighttime is the best time to fish catfish because they are well-adapted for low light feeding. While there is some truth to this, it’s not a universal rule. Stinky baits may not be the best for all three species. Both the flathead and blue are active predators who prefer live food.

Catfish behavior is influenced by their unique skin and small swim bladder.

  • Catfish prefer to work at the bottom of the water column.
  • They will hunt and forage in low light conditions, such as turbid water, dawn, dusk and night.
  • Catfish owners should consider the importance of their senses.

These traits are the first step to becoming a better cat-fisherman. Next, learn what makes them different.

Do you fancy having a variety of fish for pets and perhaps dream of having a large, beautiful aquarium in your house with different colorful and stunning fish just swimming around all day long?

If you do, you would be interested to know that catfish have some of the most fascinating personalities and highly distinctive looks and appearances. These features and qualities also make them one of the most popular picks among most beginners and aquarium owners.

However, you must know picking the right kind catfish for a pet is extremely important!

Catfish – Evolution and Life History of the Fish

With almost 3000 species of catfish known, the catfish population is extremely diverse. Catfish rank second or third among vertebrates for their diversity. And, interestingly, one of every twenty vertebrates is also a catfish.

Every continent, except Antarctica, will have different species of catfish. Although catfish are commonly found in freshwater environments, there are some species that can also be found in marine environments.

Catfish are bottom dwellers and are more active at night than during the day. You will find freshwater catfish in many habitats, including gushing streams and slow, shallow waters. Most marine catfish can be found close to the shore.

Physical Characteristics

Catfish are unique among other fish species because they do not have scales. Scales are often the most distinctive feature of a fish species. Instead of having scales, catfish have a frontal fin with spines and a fleshy and rayless posterior fin that is called an “adipose” fin.

Their distinctive physical characteristics include their prominent and slender whisker-like barbels, which gave them their unique name. The majority of catfish species have four barbels on their heads and two on their chins, with one maxillary nasal and one nasal.

The majority of catfish are dull-colored. However, some species that live in North American streams may have brightly colored patterns.


Catfish come in a range of sizes, with the smallest species measuring 4-5 cm in length, while the largest species measures 4.5m or 15ft in length. The heaviest species can reach 3.5m or 15ft in length and weighs around 300 kg.

Although there are many records of catfish that were larger than others in different parts of the globe, none compare to the one that was caught in northern Thailand on May 1, 2005. This was the largest Mekong giant catfish that had been caught and weighed in at almost 293 kg (646lb).

It is believed, however, that the Mekong giant catfish can grow longer and heavier.

12 Different Catfish Types

You will be amazed at their diversity.

Here is a list with common catfish species, as well as aquarium catfish that are suitable for fish-keepers.

Blue Catfish

Blue Catfish – Types of Catfish

Other common names for this type of catfish include Mississippi White Catfish and high fin blue. Blue Catfish’s scientific name is Ictalurus Furcatus ‘Ictalurus” is Greek for “fish cat”, and “fucatus” is Latin for “forked”. The scientific name refers to the forked tail fin in the blue catfish.

These large-river fish are mostly found in the main channels and tributaries of major rivers. All blue catfish species migrate downstream during winter to warm waters, while they move upstream in summer to cooler waters.

Blue catfish can be found in the Mississippi, Ohio, and Missouri river basins. They also extend further to Mexico, Texas, and northern Guatemala. They are easily identifiable because they are not easily spotted like the Channel Catfish. Blue catfish are typically gray on the back and upper sides, with a prominent white belly.

Blue catfish have an anal fin that has 30-35 rays and a life expectancy of 20-30 years.

Blue catfish are sometimes called “opportunistic feeders”, as they will often be found eating different types of bait fish they have injured. They prefer bait with distinct and strong scents.

Although the current world record for blue catfish weights in at 143 pounds, there are rumors that the largest blue catfish ever caught weighs in at 300-350 pounds.

Channel Catfish

Channel Catfish - Types of Catfish

The scientific name for the Channel Catfish (or Channel Catfish) is Ictalurus Punctatus Punctatus is Latin for “spotted”, which refers to the species’ spotted design. These species, like the blue catfish have deep forked tails that are very similar to the first. The only difference is that the tail of the second one is of a different colour.

Channel catfish are typically olive brown or slate colored, with a few shades of blue or gray on the sides. Their undersides and bellies are also white to silver-white. The presence of small black spots along the length of the body is one of the most distinctive features of channel catfishes, as the scientific name suggests.

These spots might not be present in larger species of fish, however. These species have 2429 rays on their anal fins, compared to blue catfish.

Channel Catfish can be found in abundance in large streams, lakes, rivers and reservoirs with a low current range.

Two reasons make these species very popular in the United States are first. They are easy to find in many rivers and lakes across the US, and they make excellent food for the table.

Crawfish, worms, and bait fish are the preferred catch of channel catfish. Preparing the baits with grains such as wheat or range cubes is one popular way to catch them.

Flathead Catfish

Flathead Catfish - Type of Catfish

There are a few other common names for this species, including Shovelhead Cat (Yellow Cat), Mud Cat (Mud Cat), and Pied Cat. Their scientific name Pylodictis Olivaris is where “pylodictis” is Greek for “mudfish” while “olivaris” (a Latin term that translates to “olive colored” in English) is their scientific name.

Flathead are often yellow-colored, which is why they are called “yellow cats”. Their skin is often a mix of olive and yellow with light brown to paley yellow backsides.

They have smooth skin with no scales and long, sharp spines at the back. There are also cat-like whiskers around their mouth.

Flathead catfish are named for their flattened, broadheaded heads that often look like a shovel. They are often called the “shovelhead cat” because of this characteristic. They have a slight notch instead of being as deep-forked as blue and channel catfish’s tail fins.

Flathead catfish, like all other species, seem to have a general rule that they only eat live fish. This doesn’t mean they are predators or opportunist feeders.

Catfish. As they get larger, they love to eat invertebrates and worms. They also enjoy eating crayfish.

Flathead catfish are usually found in deep creeks, where currents are slow to moderate and waters are cloudy.

Cory Catfish

Cory Catfish - Type of catfish

This is an aquarium catfish species that grows to a maximum of 3 inches in length. They are a great choice for those with smaller tanks who like to keep a few fish as pets.

Corycatfish are also known as Corydoras Catfish or Cory Cats. These fish are a very popular freshwater species and are sometimes called “armored catfish”. Their bodies seem to be covered in a bone-like material.

They have barbels-shaped whiskers on their lips. If they are well cared for and taken care of properly, they can live up to 20 years.

Cory catfish are very popular in aquarium owners and fish shops. This is due to their easy care. Cory catfish are a calm, non-aggressive species that can be shy and timid.

They are bottom dwellers and will often search for food in the bottom of the tank. They are also omnivores, so they prefer both plant-based and meat-based foods.

Glass Catfish

Glass Catfish - Type of catfish

This is a unique and fascinating species of catfish. Glass Catfish get their name because of the transparency of their bodies. They are also known as “ghost catfish” and “phantom catfish”.

They have transparent bodies that allow you to see their bones and organs. Also, it appears they have a hidden tail fin that is barely visible to the naked eye. Glass catfish have a unique advantage of being transparent. This transparency allows them to disguise their bodies when they are threatened by predator fish.

Glass catfish have large barbels on the heads and a portion of their back that is raised which is their dorsal Fin. They are extremely sensitive to environmental changes because their whisker-like barbels extend beyond their nose and reach past their faces.

It is amazing to note that most glass catfish are capable of detecting electromagnetic waves in their environment. This has drawn a lot of scientists to investigate how this extraordinary ability can be used to aid those suffering from epilepsy and Parkinson’s disease.

Glass catfish can be found in streams and rivers that are slow moving. They originated in Thailand. Their clear bodies are great for their survival, but they can also be dangerous if the water conditions are not ideal. They may end up becoming debris and are often mistakenly killed.

Pictus Catfish

Pictus Catfish - Type of catfish

These species are native to the Amazon River basins. They are well-known for their long barbels. Pictus catfish are often kept as pets in freshwater tanks. They are active swimmers and nocturnal bottom feeders.

Pictus catfish are characterized by a forked tail and a downturned jaw. They have sharp spines on the dorsal. They also sport beautiful silver colors with black spots and stripes. Pictus catfish are a very popular choice for fish-keepers because of their fun and charming personalities.

Pictus catfish’s body is slim and long. They grow to an average length 5 inches. They are an omnivore, meaning they can eat vegetables, fish, bloodworms and prepared fish food.

Catfish Upside Down

Upside Down Catfish - Type of catfish

The “glass catfish”, which are very popular, is a new phenomenon. However, the “upside-down catfish” is quite different. These species, as their names suggest, are completely upside-down and will be a hit in any aquarium.

They can swim upside down, which allows them to easily feed on the water’s surface. Their common name is “blotched upside-down catfish”, because they have dark brown spots on their bodies. This spotted appearance is common on their light-brown bodies.

The average upside-down catfish is three to four inches in size. The upside down catfish has three pairs of barbels and large eyes. They also have a distinctive forked tail and large adipose fins.

Otocinclus Catfish

Otocinclus Catfish - Type of catfish

You can also sell these catfish under many other names, such as Oto catfish or Dwarf suckermouths, Dwarf Ottos, Otto cats or Algae scrapers. These catfish are great for freshwater aquariums. They are also known as “amazing little scavengers”.

They are delicate fish species that require special care.

Otocinclus Catfish, a very small fish, can grow to a size of one-and-a-half to two inches in mature form. They are native to South America, and they are widely distributed in the lowlands of northern Argentina to northern Venezuela.

Bristlenose Pleco

Bristlenose Pleco - Type of Catfish

This catfish species is a great choice for aquariums because they are peaceful, easy to keep, and excellent at eating algae. The Bristlenose Pleco is a smaller species than the other Plecos and can grow to a maximum of 4-5 inches.

They are a South American species, especially from the Amazon River Basin. However, they can also be found in some parts of Central America. They can be found in gray, brown, and green colors. Sometimes, they have yellow or white spots.

This species stands out among other catfish types due to its unique appearance, which includes a large head, flat, fat body and bony plates. They are also very social and peaceful which makes them great tank mates.

Striped Raphael Catfish

These are a very popular tank catfish and they attract many aquarists because of their distinctive features. They are able to make different sounds and have high endurance levels.

They live in Brazil, the Amazon River, the Orinoco River basin in Columbia, and the Parnaiba River Basins as their natural habitat. They can grow up to 20 cm in length and live for as long as 15-20 years.

The Striped Raphael Catfish is cylindrical in shape with a flat abdomen and large head. It has large, curved spines and wide eyes that are spaced laterally. They are bottom feeders, meaning they will eat any food they find in a river or on the bottom of a tank.

Bumblebee Catfish

Bumblebee Catfish - Type of Catfish

This catfish is a brightly colored and vibrant species. It is often seen coming out of hiding to search for food.

The bumblecatfish species, also known as the South American bumblebee catsfish, are small tropical fish that are native Venezuela. They can be found in swift flowing rivers, such as the Amazon basin, Colombia and Venezuela.

Because of their bright yellowish-yellow stripes and wide smiles, they are very popular with aquarium owners. Their overall color is light brown with a triangular, pale spot at the bottom of their fin-rays.

Bumblebee catfish can grow up to 8 cm in length and can live for 3 to 5 years if they are kept in the best conditions. They prefer to eat sinking tablets, sinking grains, dried and frozen food.

Chinese Algae Eater

Chinese Algae Eater - Type of catfish

You can also call the Chinese algae eater catfish Sucker Fish, Honey Sucker, Lemon algae eater, Honey Sucker and Siamese algeater. They can thrive in large water bodies, including lakes, rivers, streams and tributaries.

These fish are well-known for being the best aquarium fish. They are native to parts of China and some large areas in Southeast Asia.

These fish have slim bodies and a sucker-like mouth. They live for between 5-10 years, and usually grow to 2 cm in length. The body of the Chinese Algae Eater is a lovely golden color with dark spots and a darker band that runs the length of their bodies.

Wels Catfish

Wels Catfish - Type of catfish

This catfish is the second-largest in the world and is found in many regions of Eastern Europe and the Black sea basins. The Wels catfish has been acclaimed as a prized sport fish in Western Europe. It is easily identified by its flat, broad head, scale-less body and wide mouth.

The catfish species can grow to a length of five meters, which is about 16 feet. They can also reach a maximum weight exceeding 300 kg (or approximately 660 lb). These fish have a number of small teeth in their mouth. The upper jaw has two long barbels, while the lower jaw has four.

Because their eyes have a tapetum Lucidum, which is a layer of tissue found in many vertebrates, they have night vision. This allows for increased light to reach the retinas.

The senses of smell and hearing are important for Wels catfish to catch and hunt their prey. These fish have very thin skin with pale yellow or white undersides.

This species has an interesting characteristic: their skin color changes according to the environment. Clear water gives them a black appearance, while muddy water makes them greenish-brown.

Are you still deciding on your favorite catfish? No matter what catfish you choose to keep, ensure they have the right growing conditions and adequate fish tanks.

Last Thoughts

We hope you have learned something from this article. If you are interested in catfishing, we recommend these articles:

They will provide you with more information to help catch the cat of the your life.

We’d love to hear your thoughts, so leave a comment.

Lewis Mark is a vastly experienced fly fisher. His encyclopedic knowledge of fly tying has led to start blog on fishing. He also review Fishing equipment based on his knowledge and experience.