Sea Life

Catfish (Siluriformes): A Comprehensive Guide

Catfish (Siluriformes)- A Comprehensive Guide

Catfish is one of the renowned fish across the globe. The name Catfish was originally given to the fish because of the whiskers/barbells near its mouth. This specific fish is considered as a delicate meal in a lot of places in the world. These are classified as survivor fish, as they can survive under extreme conditions such as snow or even in decently warm water. This adaptability allows this fish to live and thrive for years. 

Catfish (Siluriformes): A Comprehensive Guide

Siluriformes popularly known as the catfish is one of the only few species that has more than 2900+ species. These species cover around 35 fish families, making them one of the most widely spread fish families in the world.

Scientific Details

The scientific name of the catfish is Siluriformes, which is one of the members of the phylum Chordata, which is a part of the kingdom Animalia. It belongs to the class Actinopterygii. It has an average life of 4 to 20 years, which is quite long compared to most sea creatures.


Catfish are amazing with a holistic look because of those long barbells and more than 1000+ types of catfish are poisonous. The dorsal and pectoral of a catfish usually have sharp venomous spines. It can result in free bleeding of the affected area and tissue necrosis can occur after the incident. The bigger catfish have less sharp spines than the smaller ones. This is their main defensive mechanism to obliterate predator attacks.


The catfish is almost found in every region of the world except Antarctica. As discussed earlier, it is popular as survivor fish and can survive most of the temperature changes. It has an average size of 5 feet and is normally found in shallow water, wandering around the bottom of the surface. An explorer can easily find them in freshwater/ saltwater lakes, rivers, or seas. Ironically, they are also found in running water streams. They also prefer to roam around at night, making it a viable time to find these catfishes.


Catfish are primarily omnivorous living beings. So, it expanded their food choices from different algae to several different aquatic lives. These include sea plants, insects, larvae, Mollusca, fish eggs, and other small fishes.


Catfish, despite being able to inflict poison using stingers on other mobs, is still a preferred food choice for a couple of animals and aquatic creatures. These include:

  • Human
  • Alligators
  • Otters
  • Other Catfishes
  • Snakes


The catfish reproduction process is quite simple. The first condition for a female catfish is to be mature enough to lay eggs (which is an age of 1 year or more). Once matured the female and male catfish create a nest near areas where the predators don’t have any access.

Their nest is located in areas including small areas within rocks or plants. When the spawning season arrives, which usually lies between spring and summer season, The females lay their eggs here (known as spawn), which ranges from a few hundred to 20 thousand or more). Once eggs are in the nest, the male catfish will fertilize them by spraying sperm on them.

These eggs will be guarded by the male catfish until they hatch into fry(baby catfish). The male catfish, until they leave the nest, also protects them or can take care of them for about a week or so.


Catfishes have over 2900+ species and belong to 35 different fish families. So, discussing all of them would take days to complete. But, Here are some of the known catfish types out there:

Flathead Catfish: As the name suggests, it is a kind of catfish with a flat face and is popular as a mudcat. It is found near the Mexico region. It has a color similar to olives with a yellow or white bottom. Like most catfish, its barbels are poisons and act as defense mechanics.

Blue Catfish: It is a North American catfish with a forked tail and flat dorsal fins. With four pairs of whiskers, its normal color is silver blue with a whitish belly. 

Channel Catfish: This North American catfish is popular as a swimming tongue, due to having taste buds all over its body. It is a freshwater species making it one of the top most fished creatures around the globe.

Glass Catfish: Often called the ghost fish, due to its almost transparent body. It lives in lakes and rivers with moderate temperatures and is often found in the region near Thailand.

Dwarf Suckers: These are some of the smallest catfish out there. With about 6 to 7 cm long, this fish is a low-maintenance fish, as it only consumes algae. Humans use them as a natural cleaner for their tanks.

Pictus Catfish: These small fishes have characteristics of silverish skin, with no scales and black spots on top. It is located in the Amazon River and its natural habitat is fresh water.

Bullhead: This type of catfish has barbels on its face, no scales, and can survive in low oxygen areas. It can be found in Brown, Yellow, White, and Black colors.

Suckermouth Catfish: Its main feature is its face, which is similar to a suction mouth. It has scutes covering all of its body and works as armor. It is also found in the freshwater canals.

Walking Catfish: It’s an omnivorous fish, with the ability to walk and breathe outside water. Often found in muddy canals, ponds, or similar habitats.

Upside-Down Catfish: The upside-down catfish is also an omnivorous small fish that can swim in both normal and inverted positions. Its habitat is the water bodies near the Republic of the Congo.

Sharptooth Catfish: This North African catfish has a helmet-like head. It is a rare catfish and is also classified as an air-breathing fish, with scaleless long bodies.

Bronze Corydoras: A popular freshwater fish, is found in freshwater bodies near South America and Columbia. They are available in a variety of shades with albino, black, green, and bronze, making them a popular choice in fish aquarium

Striped Raphael Catfish: Found in South America and the Amazon, this catfish has long stripes on its body. It’s also known as the talking fish due to its social nature, but sadly it can not speak.

Wels Catfish: This fish is found in a lot of regions including China, Turkey, and even Europe. It can easily hear and sense its prey. It has a small dorsal and large anal fin, which allows him to glide around and evens swim backward 

Ictalurus Catfish: With 3 sets of fins and four sets of barbels, this catfish is an inhabitant of North America’s water bodies and has a lustrous body.

Tiger Catfish: This pointy face catfish has stripes on its body similar to a tiger’s. It is found in Brazil, Venezuela, and Peru.

Cory Catfish: These pleasant fishes make a major part of a lot of aquariums due to their nature of eating uneaten food and other residual items in the tank, hence cleaning them.

Mekong Giant Catfish: This catfish is one of the endangered species, and is one of the biggest catfishes out there. They can grow as big as 10 feet. The Mekong giant catfish has small barbels near its mouth and is only found in the freshwater Mekong River.

Uses of Catfish

Catfish around the globe are considered a delicacy. Different regions cook them as per their distinct style and flavors. Their meat contains omega-3 fatty acids, making them useful to avoid heart diseases and arthritis. They also serve as the major part of different aquariums based on their needs. They are also incorporated into the feed of different animals.


What is the best region to find different catfish?

Ans: Africa, America, and Asia are the top 3 regions to have a variety of catfish to offer.

Is Catfish Consumable?
Ans: Yes most of them are consumable for humans. 

Is it OK to Eat Catfish Daily?

Ans: Yes, to some extent, but having a balanced diet should be a preferred option.


Catfish is one of the most widely available in the whole world except Antarctica. It has more than 2900 species out there, it has every variation of aquatic life you dreamed of. Most of them have stingers to poison the animals who attack them. They reproduce by spawning method and live an average life of 40 years. Humans love to consume their meat as it is rich in omega-3 and vitamin D. Its smaller species are commonly used as a part of different aquariums.

About the author