Why Do Catfish Croak, Grunt, and Make Other Weird Sounds?

Catfish are one of the most unique fishes that pose some interesting challenges to anglers. Have you heard a fish making a sound before? Because catfish are known for making many weird sounds.

Why do catfish croak and grunt? Catfish croak and grunt as a defense mechanism. It also makes similar sounds when it feels stressed or afraid; it will try to make as much noise as it can to scare away predators and escape. If the catfish’s size is big, its croaks and grunts will be louder than smaller fish

Now you are probably wondering, do catfish even have vocal cords to make these sounds, and do they make these sounds in the water too, or only when they are out of the water? Keep reading to learn more.

Why Do Catfish Croak and Grunt?

A photo of a catfish to show why do catfish  croak and grunt

The most common reason for catfish croaking and grunting is to keep their enemies and potential predators away. They also make croaking noises while they are swimming as a result of the fins’ forward motion.

Catfish croaking sound, duration, and loudness depend on their size.

If the catfish’s size is big, its croaks will be louder than smaller fish. While catching a catfish is an exhausting process, most anglers will do it anyway because their delicious taste (as well as the feeling of victory) is worth it.

While some studies have shown that catfish Croak and grunt sometimes because they feel like it, these studies are not 100% approved.

What Sounds Do Catfish Make?

With that said, you may be curious to know what this sounds like. Some people describe it as chalk on a chalkboard, and others say it is like a little burb. For me, it is the same as a frog croak.

Check out this video of a catfish croaking to get a clearer idea of what they sound like:

If you have heard a catfish croaking before, what was this sound like for you?

Why Do Catfish Make Weird Sounds?

When you hold a catfish to unhook it, you will feel vibrations and notice its pectoral fins sweep forward while you hear weird sounds that seem like a croak. Don’t freak out; this is normal because catfish are known for their loud croaking, it is not as loud as frog croaking, but it is louder than the croaking (and other sounds) that most other fish make.

These weird sounds happen because of ridges on the spine’s basic scrape against bone, the Cleithrum bone, during forwarding fin sweeps this is called pectoral spine abduction. Catfish make these sounds every time they feel danger.

How Long Do Catfish Croaks Last?

On average, fish can croak for 10 minutes, but some fish can croak for up to 3 hours when they are out of water. They will stop making these sounds either when they finally pass out or when they feel they are no longer in danger.

You also need to be prepared when catching them, whether to kill the catfish quickly if you are planning to cook them or to put them in a similar environment if you want to keep them alive till you go home.

What Do Small Catfish Do in Danger?

While old and big fish make croaking and other loud noises as their main self-defense mechanism. The smaller catfish croaks are weak, so they can’t lean on croaks

Small catfish (about 10-15 inches) spines are too sharp and though these fish don’t sting, imagine that you are unhooking them, and suddenly, you get finned by one of their spines; it will be very painful for you. Not to mention that some parts of the catfish are dangerous to the touch.

When catfish grow up and their size passes 16-18 inches, their spines will be dull and won’t harm you. To stay safe, make sure that you hold the catfish correctly while unhooking;

Here is the best way to hold each catfish’s size:

Small size

The safest way to hold this size is to hold it from the top. Put your hand behind your pectoral and dorsal spines.

Medium size

This fish size is easy to handle; you can hold it from outlined above behind its pectoral fins and in front of the dorsal fin.

Big size

As we mentioned before, big catfish spines are dull and unable to harm you; you can hold them in any way you want as long as you can control the fish’s body.

But be careful of their mouth cause, at this age, the fish’s mouth is very dangerous, and catfish can bite you.

What to Do If You Got Stung by Catfish?

When a catfish is stung, you need to move quickly or ask someone to help you because catfish spines have Venom that may cause sickness and dizziness. You will need to clean the wound quickly with fresh water and cover it with medical bandages. 

Here are some tips to deal with your wound:

  1. If you find that sections of the spines that penetrated your skin have broken off and are still in the wound, remove them completely to avoid infection.
  2. Use hydrogen peroxide to clean the wound, if possible, to kill any bacteria.
  3. Don’t use ice cause the cold temperature will make your pain even worse.
  4. Put your wound in hot water instead, as it will reduce the pain. It can also help kill bacteria.

Related Questions 

Do Catfish Have Vocal Cords? 

Catfish don’t have vocal cords, so when they croak or make weird noises, they are using their mussels and fins to make it. It is similar to some other animals that don’t have vocal cords, such as the giraffe. 

Can Catfish Hear You? 

Catfish can hear you very well. When sound waves knock their swim bladder, it causes their ears to vibrate. This enhances sound waves, which subsequently travel to the inner ear’s small bones (otoliths), then transmit this vibration to cells, and the nerves of these cells send a sound message to the fish brain.

Do Catfish Usually Sting?

Catfish don’t usually sting, but sometimes the small catfish do because they have sharp spines located on their fins hole, which might lead to stings if you hold the fish in the wrong way. If you get stung by a catfish, it will be very painful.

Outdoorskilled’s Recommended Gear for Superb Catfishing

I’ve testeI’vezens 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 lightIt’sht, durable, and affordable. Furthermore, you’d haveyou’dde selection of models to choose from, whether you’re looyou’reor a spinning or casting rod. Lastly, it comes in twin-tips models, which means you’ll be you’llg two rods rather than one.

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

Resources for Catching Catfish Faster and More Easily

Helpful Resources 

Do Fish Make Sounds?

How Do Fish Produce Sounds?

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