What Do Catfish Like To Eat? Explore their Natural Food & Bait

According to records, there are nearly 3,000 species of catfishes in the world. Catfish are found in fresh and saltwater all over the world, including North America (where I am from), South America, Central America, Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia.
catfish swimming

The main thing that makes them stand out is their wide range of diets. While some catfish eat mostly insects and plankton, others will eat other small fish, while others will even prey on young birds and rodents! Some larger species of catfish can grow to lengths of nearly ten feet and weigh up to 200 pounds!

Commercial Fish Food

Some of the most popular catfish in the United States are the channel , blue and flathead. Most commercially available fish food is designed for these types of bottom feeding, larger species of catfish. While it is possible to feed these commercial foods to smaller species, some may not be able to handle the more coarse diet.

Smaller Fish & Fish Eggs

Catfish are voracious hunters that pursue other fish. They typically feed on smaller fish, although they can consume entire corpses of bigger ones if need be. The majority of them are also cannibals, and they will eat any other catfish that they come across. In catfish farms and during the raising of larvae and fry, cannibalism is often an issue when it comes to feeding. This can be dealt with by providing these fishes with smaller pieces of food, or in some cases supplementing their diet with vitamin B1 (thiamin chloride).


Catfish will consume all sorts of insects that swim or fall into the water. The young ones, on the other hand, mostly eat aquatic invertebrates like dragonfly larvae, water beetles, fly larvae, mosquito larvae, and others.


This big fish species will also consume crustaceans found in its natural habitat. Crabs, decapods, lobsters, procambium, crawfish, cheraxes, water flies, water fleas, isopods and other animals are excellent foods for this fish species.

Aquatic Plants

Plant matter is also consumed by catfish. They consume aquatic plants that develop in the water, such as algae, lotus plants, water lettuce, and other similar species. They may also eat non-aquatic plants that float into the water, including grasses and soft leaves. This fish species can also consume detritus from aquatic vegetation.

Small Animals

Catfish enjoy catching and devouring small animals including mice, rats, lizards, little birds, doves, frogs, and many other types. When these creatures fall into the water or are taken by catfish above the riverbank or from above the water, they are frequently captured.

Carrion Meat

Catfish are voracious eaters of carrion meat. They will consume just about any floating carcass they come across in the water. They may scavenge on the remains of bigger animals, such as cattle or deer, and are delighted to consume decaying flesh.


The Candiru is a parasitic catfish. This fish species latches onto its meal and consumes the blood of its host.

Other Variations

Catfish are detritus feeders, which means they can consume anything available at the bottom of a tank or on the river floor. This fish will also chow down on just about any type of fresh food they can find, including fruits, vegetables, and grains. In severe situations, they will eat almost anything they can get their hands on.

catfish in blue waters

What time of day do catfish feed?

They typically hunt for food during the night, when other animals like birds and mammals are sleeping. This is because other animals prey on catfish, so they want to be as stealthy as possible when hunting. However, if they are lucky enough to come across any dead creatures floating in the water during the day, they will eat these!

Where exactly do they feed?

Catfish typically hunt for food on the bottom of their habitat, and they will go to great lengths to catch something. They are strong swimmers and can travel long distances quickly if need be. This fish species is capable of good bursts of speed, so you must never corner or try to trap it! You’ll want use a rod for catfish to increase your chances for a successful catch.

How does catfish hunt for food?

They use their barbels to “feel” or touch the bottom of a body of water. Using these long, sensitive feelers, they can find dead animals lying on the river floor. They also have extremely sharp teeth and strong jaws with which they catch larger prey!

Nares are little holes on the snout’s edge. They lead to a number of folds, which are kept in tiny chambers. Folds serve the function of broadening smelling surfaces and are covered with olfactory receptors. Catfish have more than 140 wrinkles, which is far more than any other freshwater fish species.

What’s their role in the animal food chain?

Catfish perform an important function in the food chain. They consume a wide range of smaller creatures, including mollusks, aquatic insects, crustaceans, and small fish.

Because to their position, they assist maintain the local population of these species within limits. Humans prey on these fishes, which gives them important nutrients for survival.

Catfish feed on dead animal carcasses as well. In this capacity, they aid remove waste from the environment and provide a clean environment for other species to flourish.

Final Thoughts in What Do Catfish Naturally Eat

Catfish are a vital component of the animal food chain. They consume smaller creatures, which helps maintain the local population within limits and keep rivers clean for other species to flourish. In addition, they help remove waste from aquatic environments by consuming carrion meat or dead animals in water.

catfish with aquatic plants