Do Catfish Eat Other Fish? Separating the Truths from the Myths

Catfish are a very diverse type of fish. They live on all continents except Antarctica. Most types of catfish live in fresh bodies of water such as rivers and streams, but some types live in salt waters. Since catfish are such an interesting fish, people have wondered about what they eat.

Do catfish eat other fish? Catfish do eat other fish. They have been known to eat various kinds of fish such as sunfish, perch, shad, carp, bluegill, crayfish, and even bass fish. Some catfish might even eat other catfish. The type of fish they eat differs depending on the type of water they live in.

Keep reading to find out more about what catfish eat and the best baits to use for them.

What Do Catfish Eat?

a photo of catfish feeding to show if they do eat other fish

It’s safe to say that catfish aren’t picky eaters as they have a wide range of food that they like to eat including clams, snails, mollusks, and other fish. They sometimes eat other small mammals, and some have even been seen eating birds that wash up on the surface.

It’s important for anglers to know what catfish eat in order to choose the best bait when catching catfish. Knowing what they eat can also be useful if you want to know which types of fish are suitable to pair with catfish in fish tanks.

Do Catfish Eat Other Fish?

Some beginner anglers have wondered if catfish eat other fish. The fact is, they do. Catfish eat a vast variety of fish. They have been known to eat sunfish, perch, shad, carp, bluegill, crayfish, and even bass fish.

The type of fish they eat differs depending on the type of water they live in, though. Interestingly enough, fish is the main food source for catfish. They can even feed on dead fish. In cooler types of water, catfish will tend to eat fish at the bottom.

Do Catfish Eat other Catfish?

Catfish eat other catfish. Since catfish are a very territorial type of fish, they tend to consume other catfish. They aren’t very picky when it comes to feeding. And although eating other catfish isn’t usually their main option, it’s still very possible. 

They will feed on their own type or other types of catfish, especially if they are smaller. It might not be the best type of bait for anglers to use; however, it could still be effective.

Do Catfish Eat Dead Fish?

Catfish eat dead fish. They adapt to their surroundings when it comes to feeding, and if push comes to shove, they will eat dead fish. They also eat algae and other dead animals, if available. It does not matter to catfish whether their food is conscious or not.

Various types of catfish prefer to feed on dead fish. This is why anglers use dead fish as bait often when they are catfishing. Catfish like strong, pungent smells, and dead fish act as a great type of bait for this reason. 

There is one type of catfish; however, that rarely eats dead fish. Flathead catfish are purely carnivorous and will always prefer eating live fish over dead fish. Even when desperate for food, they will often exclusively look for smaller, living fish to consume.

Do Catfish Eat Goldfish?

Catfish may eat goldfish, depending on the size of both fish. If the type of catfish and goldfish are about the same size, catfish will not consume goldfish. However, if the type of goldfish is smaller than the catfish, the catfish will have no issue eating goldfish.

Some people have asked whether it’s safe to put catfish and goldfish in the same fish tank. It’s advised to make sure that you put the right type of catfish that wouldn’t grow big enough to consume goldfish. 

Do Catfish Eat Turtles?

Catfish eat baby turtles. When turtles are small enough, their shells won’t do much protection against big catfish. Catfish have large mouths and can consume a whole baby turtle. Catfish do not bite, they swallow their food, which makes it easy for catfish to eat baby turtles.

Bigger catfish are able to consume adult turtles, as well. Their large mouths allow them to swallow adult turtles whole, so they will eat turtles as long as their mouths can fit their size. This goes to show that catfish will feed on almost any animal.

Do Catfish Eat Koi?

Catfish can eat koi if their size allows them to. Just like goldfish, if a particular catfish is bigger than koi, they will devour them in no time. If you are planning on getting a fish tank, do not put a full-sized adult catfish with any koi. 

If you want to put the two types of fish together, you should make sure that they are similar in size. Koi fish, however, do not usually grow to the extent that catfish do. This means that it’s very unlikely that koi will be feeding on any catfish.

Do Catfish Eat Guppies?

Catfish eat guppies if they come in the way. Since guppies are a small type of fish, it’s very easy for catfish to fit them in their mouths. Catfish are better off staying away from smaller fish in fish tanks for this reason.

Do Catfish Eat Bass?

Catfish can eat bass, depending on their size. It’s not uncommon for catfish to eat bass. If the catfish is bigger than the type of bass they encounter, there is a good chance that the catfish will eat it. They have no problem with eating bass if they do not find any other source of food.

Many anglers have even stated that they have seen smaller bass being chased by catfish near rivers. They have even seen smaller bass in the stomachs of catfish they’ve caught.

Do Catfish Eat Dead Bodies?

There is a type of giant catfish that can feed on the dead bodies of humans. There have been instances where catfish have tried to swallow humans alive as well. For example, goonch catfish are used to eating funeral corpses.

In South America, one piraiba catfish was found eating a whole fisherman, and only his legs were sticking out. These types of enormous catfish will stop at nothing to feed. It’s also been said that this type of species is capable of eating small-sized humans with almost no trouble. You can learn more about whether catfish attack humans here.

Do Catfish Eat Poop?

Catfish do not eat poop. They can sometimes mistake it for food, but they will never usually go for it. Poop does not provide catfish with any nutrients, and it can be quite dangerous for catfish to consume.

Do Catfish Eat Snails?

Catfish eat snails as well as their eggs. Snails are one of catfish’s favorite food. It provides them with the right amount of nutrients, so they make a perfect meal for these interesting swimmers. Cory catfish, in particular, will sniff out snails and eat them and their eggs.

Do Catfish Eat Birds?

Catfish can eat birds. They often feed on small types of birds. Some anglers even use birds as bait. Some types of catfish have learned how to lure birds in towards the water, so they can consume them.

There are types of catfish that prefer cooked birds. Many anglers use cooked turkey as bait, adding garlic salt to it. This type of cooked turkey attracts catfish as well as ones that are alive. Other types of cooked birds work just as well.

Chickens are also often used as bait in different forms. Some fishermen use small pieces of cooked chicken, while others use whole chickens for bigger types of catfish. The good thing about using chicken as bait is that they’re cheap and easy to buy, as well as effective when it comes to fishing.

What Are the Best Baits for Catfish?

Since catfish are known to feed on almost anything they can fit in their mouths, it’s easy for anglers to choose the best bait for catfish. Some types of baits stick out the most, however, due to their efficiency and quickness when attracting catfish.

So, here is a list of some of the best baits for catfish:

  1. Asian Carp
  2. Bluegills
  3. Chicken Livers
  4. Shrimp
  5. Punchbait
  6. White Suckers
  7. Nightcrawler
  8. Gizzard Shad
  9. Skipjack Herring
  10. Stinkbait
  11. Crawfish
  12. Shad

Catching catfish can be really easy when using these types of bait. Since they aren’t picky eaters, using other types of bait could also work in your favor. However, according to many professional anglers, these are the best types of bait that will guarantee you a big catch on your catfishing trip.

Outdoorskilled’s Recommended Gear for Superb Catfishing

I’ve tested dozens of reels, rods, and lines for Catfishing, and after years of testing, here are my quick picks that will definitely improve your current setup and results!

My recommended reel is the Abu Garcia Ambassadeur Reel C3-7000 which is ideally suited for catfish.

The rod I always recommend is the KastKing Perigee II Fishing Rod. It’s lightweight, durable, and affordable. Furthermore, you’d have a wide selection of models to choose from, whether you’re looking for a spinning or casting rod. Lastly, it comes in twin-tips models, which means you’ll be getting two rods rather than one.

What I use is the Berkley Trilene Big Game Monofilament Fishing Line as it’s the strongest, toughest mono I’ve ever tested and because it has exceptional shock strength, great knot integrity, tremendous abrasion resistance, and a high-visibility color option, you really can’t find better options

Related Questions

Do Catfish Lay Eggs?

Catfish lay eggs. They often look for areas in shallow water where it is safe for them to start their spawning process. Catfish can lay from 4,000 to 100,000 eggs at a time. Catfish will look for the right spawning water temperatures to be able to lay their eggs.

Do Catfish Have Teeth?

Catfish have teeth; however, they are nothing like that of humans. Their teeth are called cardiform, and they are small and dense, unlike many of their predators. Catfish have hundreds of teeth in their mouths, so anglers need to be careful and wear gloves when handling them to avoid bites from catfish.

Do Catfish Have Backbones?

Catfish have backbones. A lot of people think that catfish don’t have backbones, but that’s far from the truth. All types of catfish have backbones. Backbones provide catfish with stability, mobility, and protection for their organs.

Do Catfish Eat Peanut Butter?

Catfish do eat peanut butter. It may be an unconventional bait, but it has proven to be effective for catching catfish due to its strong scent. One way to use peanut butter as bait is to add it to dough bait or fish pellets to make their scents stronger. You can also cover small baitfish with peanut butter before hooking them.

Helpful Resources

How to Catch Catfish: the Complete Catfishing Guide

Resources for Catching Catfish Faster and More Easily

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