What Do Catfish Eat?

The catfish is a species of freshwater fish known for its whisker-like barbels and flattened, body shape.

What Do Catfish Eat: Catfish primarily eat small fish, insects, crustaceans, and plants.

They are skilled predators, capable of adapting their diet to their surroundings, and can consume a wide range of food sources.

What Do Catfish Eat?

Catfish like to eat fish, bugs, worms, and special fish food.

  • Fish: Catfish are meat-eaters and often go after smaller fish, whether they’re alive or dead.
  • Bugs and Worms: They also like to munch on insects, larvae, and worms, like crickets or grasshoppers.
  • Crustaceans: Catfish may eat small shellfish, such as crayfish and shrimp.
  • Small Animals and Birds: Sometimes, the bigger catfish might even eat small mammals or birds that end up in the water.
  • Special Fish Food: When kept in tanks, catfish can be fed special pellets or catfish food that gives them the nutrients they need.
  • Plants and Algae: While most of their diet is meat, some catfish may nibble on plants, algae, or tiny particles in the water.

What Does Catfish Eat at Home?

A catfish can eat live or frozen foods, worms and insects, and catfish pellets at home.

  • Catfish Pellets: These are special pellets made for catfish. They sink to the bottom of the tank, which is good for catfish that like to stay down low.
  • Live or Frozen Foods: Some catfish enjoy live or frozen treats like bloodworms, brine shrimp, or daphnia. It adds variety to their diet and lets them hunt, just like they would in the wild.
  • Worms and Insects: Catfish can also eat live or frozen worms (like earthworms) and insects such as crickets. These foods give them extra protein.
  • Commercial Catfish Pellets or Sticks: Companies make special catfish diets in stick or pellet form. These are designed to give catfish all the nutrients they need.
  • Vegetables and Algae Wafers: Even though catfish mostly eat meat, some types may benefit from plant-based foods now and then. You can offer things like cucumber slices or algae wafers made for them.

Do Catfish Like Peanut Butter?

Yes, catfish like peanut butter.

Catfish are attracted to strong smells, and the odor of peanut butter can be appealing to them.

While it’s not a traditional or natural catfish bait, some people have reported success using peanut butter to attract catfish. 

Does Coffee Attract Catfish?

No, coffee itself doesn’t attract catfish.

Catfish are typically attracted to smells that mimic their natural prey, such as bait like worms, minnows, or other live or smelly baits.

While some people may use coffee grounds as an ingredient in their homemade bait, it’s not the coffee itself that attracts catfish. 

Does Rice Attract Catfish?

Yes, rice attracts catfish.

Rice can be used as an effective bait to attract catfish, particularly in certain fishing situations.

The idea is that the scent and texture of the rice, combined with other smelly and appealing components, attract catfish.

What Do Catfish Eat in a Pond or River?

In a pond catfish like to eat small fish, insects or larvae, baitfish, and crayfish.

  • Small Fish: Catfish often catch and eat smaller fish in ponds, like minnows, sunfish, and other small species.
  • Insects and Larvae: They feed on aquatic insects and their larvae, including mayflies, caddisflies, dragonflies, and mosquito larvae.
  • Crayfish and Crustaceans: Catfish eat crayfish and other shell-covered creatures found at the bottom of the pond, providing a good source of protein.
  • Worms and Mollusks: Catfish are scavengers and may feed on worms, leeches, and various mollusks present in the pond.
  • Detritus and Plant Matter: While catfish mainly eat meat, some species may consume detritus, algae, and small plant matter in ponds.
  • Baitfish: Catfish often target smaller fish, known as baitfish, that inhabit the pond.

What Do Catfish Eat in a Tank?

Catfish like to eat in a tank are pelleted catfish food, live or frozen foods, worms, and vegetables.

  • Pelleted Catfish Food: Special pellets from pet stores are designed to provide a balanced diet with proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals. These pellets sink, making them perfect for catfish that stay at the bottom.
  • Live or Frozen Foods: To add variety, you can offer live or frozen treats like bloodworms, brine shrimp, daphnia, or other small aquatic organisms.
  • Worms: Live or freeze-dried worms, such as bloodworms or tubifex worms, are great protein sources.
  • Insect Larvae: Freeze-dried or live insect larvae, like blackworms or mosquito larvae, can be part of their diet.
  • Vegetables and Algae Wafers: Even though catfish mostly eat meat, some types may benefit from occasional plant-based foods. You can give them sinking algae wafers or pieces of blanched vegetables like cucumber or zucchini.
  • Commercial Catfish Sticks: Some catfish keepers like using specially formulated catfish sticks or tablets made to meet the needs of catfish in captivity.

Do Catfish Eat Chicken?

Yes, catfish eat chicken, and it is a popular bait.

Chicken liver, chicken parts, or even small pieces of raw chicken can be effective bait for catfish.

The strong smell and flavor of chicken can attract catfish, making it a common and affordable option for fishing.

Anglers often use chicken as cut bait, which involves cutting the chicken into smaller pieces and placing it on a hook. 

Does Catfish Like Garlic?

Yes, catfish like the smell of garlic.

Garlic-scented baits, dips, and attractants are commonly used by fishermen targeting catfish.

The strong and pungent odor of garlic is thought to be appealing to catfish, and it can help attract them to the bait.

Will Catfish Eat Eggs?

Yes, catfish eat eggs.

In the wild, catfish are opportunistic feeders, and their diet can include a variety of items, depending on what’s available.

If fish eggs are present in their environment, catfish may consume them.

Do Catfish Eat Bread?

Yes, catfish can eat bread, and it’s a bait option that some anglers use, especially in more casual or recreational fishing situations.

While bread may not be a natural part of a catfish’s diet, they are opportunistic feeders and can be attracted to the smell and taste of bread.

Anglers often use bread as bait in various forms:

  • Dough Balls: Balls of dough made from bread mixed with other ingredients can be molded onto hooks. This is a simple and cost-effective way to use bread as catfish bait.
  • Bread Chunks: Pieces of bread, either fresh or slightly stale, can be used as bait by placing them on the hook.
  • Floating Bread: Some anglers use floating bread on the water’s surface to attract catfish. When catfish come near the surface to investigate or feed, anglers can present other baits beneath the floating bread.

Do Catfish Eat Liver?

Yes, catfish eat liver, and liver is a popular and effective bait for catfishing.

Chicken liver, in particular, is commonly used by anglers as catfish bait.

The strong odor and soft texture of the liver make it attractive to catfish.

Anglers often prepare liver bait by cutting it into smaller pieces, making it easier for catfish to bite and consume. 

What Smell Attracts Catfish the Most?

Catfish are attracted to a variety of strong smells such as blood, garlic, cheese, shrimp, and worms.

  • Blood: Baits and attractants with a blood scent, such as blood baits or blood-based attractants, can be effective in enticing catfish.
  • Garlic: The pungent smell of garlic is known to attract catfish, and many anglers use baits or attractants infused with garlic scent.
  • Anise (Licorice): Some anglers believe that the sweet, licorice-like scent of anise can be appealing to catfish.
  • Cheese: The strong odor of cheese, especially stinky or fermented varieties, is known to attract catfish.
  • Shrimp: The scent of shrimp can be enticing to catfish, and shrimp-flavored baits or actual shrimp are often used.
  • Baitfish: Naturally, the smell of live or cut baitfish, such as minnows, shad, or other small fish, is a powerful attractant for catfish.
  • Worms: The earthy scent of worms, such as nightcrawlers or red worms, can also be effective in luring catfish.

Do Catfish Eat Every Day?

Catfish may not necessarily eat every day.

In warmer temperatures, catfish are generally more active and may feed more frequently.

During colder periods, such as winter, their metabolism slows down, and they may eat less frequently.

What Do Catfish Not Eat?

Things that catfish not eat are dry or hard substances, non-organic materials, poisonous plants, and aggressive predators.

  • Dry or Hard Substances: Catfish have sensitive barbels (whisker-like organs) that they use to locate food by touch. Dry or hard substances like rocks, sand, or soil are not edible for them.
  • Non-Organic Materials: Catfish do not eat non-organic materials such as plastic, metal, or synthetic substances. Ingesting these materials can be harmful to them.
  • Large or Aggressive Predators: While catfish are predators themselves, they may avoid larger or more aggressive predators that could potentially harm them.
  • Unnatural or Strong Chemicals: Catfish are unlikely to consume substances with strong or unnatural chemical odors. Baits or attractants with harsh chemicals may not be as effective.
  • Poisonous Plants: Like many other fish species, catfish are unlikely to consume plants that are toxic or harmful to them.

How Do You Know When a Catfish is Hungry?

You can know when a catfish is hungry by a few signs such as their activity level, glass surfing, and begging behavior.

  • Vocalizations: A hungry catfish may start meowing or making soft chirping sounds to get attention. 
  • Increased activity level: A hungry catfish may become more active than usual. They may swim around more actively, pat the bottom of the tank, or jump towards the surface, showing signs of restlessness.
  • Prowling behavior: Cats, including catfish, often display prowling behavior when they are hungry. If you notice your catfish swimming quickly and restlessly around its tank or tank area, it might be a sign that they are looking for food.
  • Glass surfing: Sometimes, catfish may exhibit “glass surfing” behavior, where they repeatedly glide along the glass of the tank. 
  • Begging behavior: Just like household cats, catfish can exhibit begging behavior when they are hungry. They may swim up to the feeding area and poke their noses out of the water or hover around whenever you approach the tank, indicating their desire for food.
  • Searching for food: If you have decorations or plants in the tank, a hungry catfish might start rummaging around the substrate or sift through the tank decorations in search of food. 

Will Catfish Eat Other Catfish?

Yes, catfish are known to eat other catfish.

In the wild, catfish are opportunistic feeders and their diet can consist of a variety of organisms, including other catfish.

This behavior typically occurs when catfish are larger and can overpower and consume smaller catfish.

Why Do Catfish Eat at Night?

Catfish can eat at night for many reasons such as reduced visibility, avoidance of predators, and prey behavior.

  • Temperature Regulation: In many bodies of water, temperatures are more comfortable for catfish during the night. Warmer water temperatures can enhance their metabolism, making them more active and willing to feed.
  • Reduced Visibility: Catfish have excellent sensory adaptations, particularly their barbels, which they use to locate food in low-light or dark conditions. By feeding at night, catfish take advantage of reduced visibility, making it easier for them to ambush prey.
  • Avoiding Predators: Catfish may be more vulnerable to predation during the day when natural predators, such as birds and larger fish, are active. Feeding at night allows catfish to avoid some of these predators and increase their chances of survival.
  • Habitat Utilization: Catfish are often associated with bottom-dwelling behavior, and they use their barbels to search for food in substrate and cover. At night, they can more effectively navigate and forage in these areas.

What is the Lifespan of a Catfish?

The lifespan of a catfish can vary widely depending on the species, environmental conditions, and other factors. 

  • Channel Catfish: Channel catfish one of the most common catfish species in North America, can live up to 20 years or more under favorable conditions.
  • Blue Catfish: Blue catfish another North American species, can also have a lifespan of 20 years or more.
  • Flathead Catfish: Flathead catfish can live for several decades, with some individuals reaching ages of 20 to 30 years or more.
  • Wels Catfish: The Wels catfish a large catfish species native to Europe, is known for its potential to live for several decades, with some individuals reported to be over 50 years old.

Also, read:

  1. Why Are Blue Catfish a Problem?
  2. When Blue Catfish Become Blue?
  3. Can Catfish Live Without an Air Pump?
  4. Can Catfish Attack Humans?
  5. Can a Catfish Walk on Land?




What do catfish eat in Florida?

In Florida, catfish consume a varied diet, including insects, small fish, crustaceans, and plant matter.

What do glass catfish eat?

Glass catfish typically eat small invertebrates, insects, and plankton in captivity.

What do catfish eat in a lake?

In lakes, catfish feed on a diet of insects, small fish, and aquatic plants.

What do catfish eat in the river?

In rivers, catfish eat a diverse range of food, such as insects, smaller fish, and crustaceans.

What do catfish eat in the wild?

In the wild, catfish have an omnivorous diet, consuming insects, crustaceans, small fish, and plant matter.

What do catfish eat in the summer?

In summer, catfish are more active and feed on a variety of prey, including insects, small fish, and crustaceans.

What do catfish eat in the winter?

During winter, catfish may eat less but still target available prey like insects and small fish.

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