Do Catfish Eat Other Fish? [Interesting Facts]

Do Catfish Eat Other Fish

Catfish are known as opportunistic feeders. They will likely consume anything that can fit into their mouth.

There are different species of catfish, but just a few are interesting to anglers.

They are omnivorous and will eat different plant material, and all kinds of aquatic (and sometimes even land) animals.

But, do catfish eat other fish?

Yes, they do, catfish in fact eat other, smaller, fish species. They will eat those fish species which are available in their waters, including shad, perch, bluegill, drum, buffalo, small carp, and all other kinds of baitfish. Some catfish are likely to eat dead fish too.

To know more about catfish predatory habits, read the following chapters:



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What Kind of Fish do Catfish Eat?

Different catfish species have similar feeding habits, however there are certain differences too.

As already mentioned, they will eat smaller fish available in their pond/lake/river.

Here I will mention most common prey of popular catfish species:

Blue Catfish

Blue catfish regularly eat fish. They are not very picky.

Because catfish teeth and anatomy don’t give them the possibility to chew and bite off pieces of large prey, they have a prey restriction in terms of size.

Fish has to be small enough to fit into their mouth. And this goes for all catfish species, not just the blue catfish.

As catfish grows up, so does the selected prey. But lets get back to heir favorite fish.

Blue catfish is most likely to eat buffalo, drum, carp and perch.

These are their favorite, however they are going to eat other fish to if the opportunity arises ... 

Channel Catfish

Channel catfish, similarly to blue catfish, prefers to eat carp, drum, buffalo and perch. They are also know for eating shad.

Some say that channel catfish eat less fish than blue catfish, however, this largely depends on a location and available food source.

Channel catfish likes to bite on dead fish too, that is why many anglers prefer dead bait ... 

Flathead Catfish

Flathead catfish are know for eating a lot of fish.

More than channel and blue catfish. Fish are their favorite food and also, the majority of their food.

Catching them on live bait can work very well. Flathead catfish eat drum, goldfish, carp, perch, bluegill, and any other available smaller fish.

These predators are more likely to bite on live fish, than a dead one. Keep that in mind while fishing for them.

Do Catfish Also Eat Dead Fish?

Do catfish eat other fish is the one of the most common questions asked about catfish feeding habits and it has already been answered.

But, what about eating dead fish?

Catfish, some species more likely than others, will consume dead fish.

That is one of the reasons anglers sometimes use them as baits. Catfish love baits with strong smell and pieces of dead fish are great for it.

In nature, catfish is more likely to eat live fish than a dead one. A “freshly” dead one can end up on its menu.

Bullheads and channel catfish will even eat a decaying fish on the bottom if hungry. The same can happen in smaller waters like ponds, if better food sources are not available.

Flathead catfish will almost never eat a dead fish, especially not a decaying one. They are almost exclusively carnivorous.

Keep all of this in mind if you are a beginner catfish anglers who is trying to decide which bait to use.

Not all catfish species have the same feeding habits and in order to be successful you must know a thing or two about them and adapt to a given situation.

What About the Baby Catfish? What they eat?

As already mentioned, catfish prey of choice increases in size as they do.

Small catfish have smaller mouth and they have to survive eating smaller prey.

Most often these baby catfish eat invertebrates and insect larvae. Some consume other fish eggs too. Besides this animal-based food sources, baby catfish eat plant material too.

When they are really small, they consume mostly plant-based food as algae.

Juvenile catfish may eat a baby fish which is small enough. This predatory behavior starts when they are big enough to swallow it.

At first, this is a rare occurrence, and they still eat plants and insects, but as they grow, they start eating tiny fish more.

When they reach adulthood, heir diet changes and catfish eat those fish species mentioned in the previous chapter on a daily basis.

Do Catfish Eat Their Babies?

There are a lot of misconceptions about catfish, including the rumor that they eat their own babies.

When catfish lays eggs, it will keep them safe and protect them from predators.

There is no way a catfish will eat its babies.

In some catfish species, egg-guarding is done by male catfish. When the eggs are hatched, fry usually stays together, sometimes even protected by a parent catfish, for a few days.

While catfish won’t eat their own babies, they will eat other fish babies.

Sometimes, although rarely, it can happen that one catfish eats babies belonging to other catfish species.

Flathead catfish, the most predatory ones, are known for trying to eat other catfish species, mostly blue catfish.

Nature is unpredictable and you may never know what weird feeding behavior will a certain fish develop, however, this is an exemption more than a rule.

So, is Live Bait the Best for Catching the Catfish?

Catfish eat other fish - THAT'S A FACT!

So, many anglers are wondering about using live fish as bait for them.

Before going into more details, I have to tell you that live bait is not allowed everywhere, and you should always check local rules and regulations.

Live baitfish moves in a way as in injured fish does, and that is very attractive to predatory fish.

Catfish also like smelly baits, which means a dead one can also do the job. But which one is better?

Flathead catfish will react well to live bait because of their predatory nature.

Blue an channel can be caught on live bait, but it is efficient, and way easier, to use usual smelly baits such as chicken liver or stinkbaits.

When it comes to live bait, you can use worms too for catfish fishing.

And shrimps are also a good catfish bait.

It is hard to tell that live bait is the best. Sometimes it will work excellent while on other days something else will work better.

But in general, yes, catfish, especially flathead, can be caught on live baitfish.


Now you know do catfish eat other fish.

These opportunistic feeders will eat almost anything they see, and that makes it relatively easy for anglers to choose a proper bait.

Catfish rely on their sense of smell and taste, together with the ability to detect vibrations, to locate food, including small fish. Their eyesight is not that good.

Keep in mind that catfish species have different feeding habits (in different times, also), so, chose your bait accordingly.

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I am Siniša Pintar (friends call me Sina), the guy behind and eBook writer. This site is base camp for fishing enthusiasts from all over the world. I love fishing and want to share all my stories, knowledge and my experience with any and all potential anglers. Read more ...

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