What Does Catfish Eat? – The Master Scavengers of the River

What does catfish eat exactly? Catfish as scavengers and bottom feeders. They look for food anywhere and they won’t hesitate to try and go up above to search for food. There are a variety of catfish like the channel catfish, bullheads and flatheads. Each have their specific differences but all are omnivores and will eat anything they can find from plants to other smaller animals.

In fact, their ability to scavenge for food is so well-developed that they can find food even if there is almost zero visibility in the water. This is accomplished through their highly evolved odor - detecting and taste buds that cover the catfish’s body.


Catching a Catfish

When catching catfish, it is best to choose a bait that gives off a strong odor.

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Catfish have amazing receptors all over their body and will easily sense food or prey even with zero visibility. By using a bait that has a strong odor, you can expect the scent to be quickly picked up upon by any catfish within the vicinity. Catfish baits also include crayfish, night crawlers and live fish.


Catfish Early Stages Diet

If you own a catfish of your own then I would highly recommend that you feed them properly to ensure they stay healthy and look good as well. Know that like almost any other species, a catfish’s diet change all throughout their life. During their early stages, young catfish will feed on plants, weeds and small invertebrates like worms. They can also feed on small insects that fly over the water and crayfish.

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Adult Catfish Diet

Once the catfish matures, their diet will tend to lean onto specific types. Each type of catfish will also have specific preference when it comes to their food.

For example, a flathead catfish will mostly focus their diet on other fish. Flatheads hunt at the bottom, concealing their body buy burrowing into the sand. Once a possible prey wanders into their view they will quickly jump out and suck the prey into their gaping maw.

As for the other catfish breeds, channel and bullheads will have no problems scavenging food even from dead animals. Unlike the flathead who prefers their food live, bullhead and channel catfish are classic scavengers who are not picky with their meal. Channel and bullhead catfish are omnivores and will adapt to the available food resource in their habitat while flatheads are strictly carnivores.


What to Feed Catfish

Now, the first thing you need to figure out is the type of catfish that you have. If you have a flathead, then you will need to feed it a couple of times a day. They are voracious feeders and are considered to be a threat if they managed to infiltrate an ecosystem that they are not naturally part of.

Bullheads and channel fish, on the other hand, are way simpler to feed and are the most common breeds of catfish that are kept as pets. They will eat almost anything edible that fits in their mouth. You should check out Purina Mills Game Fish Chow if you want your catfish to get the proper nutritional diet.


What You Should Look for In a Catfish Food

You shouldn’t just grab anything you see at the pet store when choosing a good feed for your catfish. Even if they do eat anything they can find, it is best if you make sure they eat something that offers them their proper nutritional needs. The Purina Mills Game Fish Chow pellets I recommended above is a great choice but I’ll also specify some factors you need to consider when picking catfish food.

#1. Go for High Protein

Protein is a vital part of catfish diet, or any fish diet for that matter. This should be the main aspect you look for. However, keep in mind that not all protein is ideal for the fish. If the feed contains incorporating ingredients based on chicken byproduct, then it is of low quality.

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Always check the ingredient list and see if protein is the main ingredients. If the source of protein is something unfamiliar then think twice. It is best to choose one that derives its protein content from ingredients such as lean ground beef.


#2. Choose Pellets That Sink

Catfish usually prefer to feed below, which makes pellets that sink a recommended choice. Also, keep in mind that catfish mouths are not designed to chew on hard food. By the time the pellets sink into the bottom they would already be soft and sponge-like for the catfish to eat without trouble. Another highly recommended fish pellet that sinks is the Hikari Tropical Sinking Wafers.

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Catfish Care Tips

Commercial fish pellets that incorporate special formulas is the best option for feeding your catfish. As a rule of thumb, look for one that offers around 30% protein concentration. There are floating and sinking type pellets that you can choose to feed to your catfish.

While sinking pellets are preferred, William A. Wurtz, an agriculturist from Kentucky State University stated that is best to switch between the two types depending on the current climate or water temperature. If the water temperature reaches 18 degrees Celsius or more, a floating fish pellet is advisable. If the water temperature is below 15 degrees Celsius then a sinking pellet is the better choice.

Here is a video specifically detailing how to care for Sun Catfish.


Final Thoughts

Catfish is a rather low-maintenance pet as it will adapt easily to almost every kind of habitat. Of course, I strongly believe that if you are going to care for an animal, you’d better be a responsible owner and make sure that your pet will live in a healthy and comfortable environment. When it comes to catfish, feeding them properly is essential.

As stated earlier, the recommended fish pellet will differ depending on the current temperature of the water. You can buy both the Purina Mills Game Fish Chow (excellent protein content) and the Hikari Tropical Sinking Wafers (sinking pellets) for your catfish.

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I do hope you enjoyed this little discussion about caring for your catfish. Now that you know the answer to what does catfish eat you will be able to properly care for your aquatic friend and make sure it grows healthy and strong.

Comment down below if you have anything else to add and don’t forget to share this with other catfish enthusiasts.

Kevin Smith

About the Author

Kevin Smith

Ahoy there! The name’s Kevin Smith, the proprietor of this little travel and outdoors blog. The outdoors has always been a passion of mine since I was a kid as my parents were avid campers themselves. They taught me everything I know when it comes to camping, hiking etc. and I would like to do my part by imparting my know-how to like-minded individuals who enjoy the same hobby as me.I started this website in the hopes of helping other people when it comes to answering questions, giving tips and recommendations focusing on the camping niche. Along with some close friends of mine, we are here to help you make the most out of your outdoor experience. Enjoy your stay and enjoy the wild side!

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