Does Catfish Have Bones? Get The Answer Here!

Does Catfish Have Bones

There are many misconceptions about various fish species, and unfortunately, catfish are fish species that are often a part of those stories.

From being unhealthy to eat, to having no bones, most of that information is false.

So, do they have bones? Catfish have bones and these bones are actually quite big. Their skeleton is made of bones and cartilage. Spine is large, while smaller bones connected to it are similar to ribs.

All fish species have some kind of skeleton which differ in sizes, rigidity, and shape.

Despite having bones, you can still catch them and eat them with proper cleaning.

Here I am going answer a few frequently asked questions about all of this, in the following chapters ...



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Does Catfish Have Bones? [Structure and Types]

The answer to this question is YES, catfish do have bones! A “main” bone (similar to spine) and smaller bones (similar to ribs). These bones are large and orderly. There are numerous catfish species and they all have some anatomical differences but the bone structure of all is quite similar.

Their humeral process is extending backwards from pectoral gridle just above the base of the pectoral fin. The outline of it is placed underneath the skin.

To explain it in simple words: there is a “main” bone (similar to spine) alongside the upper part of the catfish body and smaller bones (similar to ribs) which are connected to it on both sides. These ribs are short and stiff.

Their skulls are depressed dorsoventrally. Cranial roof is wide. The skull itself is composed from a number of bones. Connections between those bones are quite weak.

As you can see, catfish really do have bones.

If you want to see how they look in live fish and not just a skeleton, search for Ghost catfish (Kryptopterus vitreolus).

This catfish specie has a transparent body and you can see the skeleton right trough the fish.

Of course, this tiny specie is not the same as those catfish species interesting to anglers, but it can be used as an example.

Are There Any Fish That Don't Have Bones?

This is a tricky question ...

You have probably heard that some fish species do not have bones, but that is not completely true. It depends on your definition of a bone.

Bones, as most of us see them, are strong and calcified. But, some fish species, like sharks and rays have “soft” bones made of cartilage. Those bones are very flexible.

Only strong and sturdy parts of their bodies are their teeth.

Other fish species, frequently called “bony fishes” (including catfish), have bones that have similar composition to other land animals.

Although cartilage isn’t defined as a true bone, it serves the same purpose. There are no fish species that completely lack and form of “skeletal” formation.

Cartilaginous fishes (Chondrichthyes) are all jawed vertebrates with paired fins and nares, with no scales.

Interesting fact about cartilaginous fish is that they lack bone marrow. Usually, red blood cells are produced in bone marrow. These fish species have their red blood cells produced in spleen and epigonal organ. Epigonal organ is actually a tissue placed around gonads, and it is also valuable for immune system.

Fish anatomy is quite fascinating. Every specie has certain characteristics that makes it unique.

Unfortunately, many people don’t know a lot about it. As an angler, you should learn about fish species you are catching.

Does Catfish Have Bones - Scelet

How do You Remove Catfish Bones? Step-by-Step!

Now when you got your answer to “does catfish have bones” question, you should know how to remove them before consuming this tasty delicacy.

Here you can also check >> ("How long can catfish live out of water").

Catfish fillets are good to eat, so here is a Step-by-Step guide on how to remove the bones:

  • STEP #1: Cut the catfish through the skin behind the head. Do the cut around the whole “neck” but don’t remove the head yet.

  • STEP #2: Remove the fins.

  • STEP #3: The next step is to remove the skin from the body. This could be tricky and messy, depending on a catfish species. Also, farm raised are easier to clean than the wild ones. You will need patience, sharp knife, maybe a pair of pillars and to be cautious.

  • STEP #4: Cut off the head.

  • STEP #5: Remove the guts and organs.

  • STEP #6: Make the dorsal cut. Cut close to the back bone. If done right, you should have about a half of the fillet done.

  • STEP #7: Cut around the tail and continue cutting from the bottom side.

  • STEP #8: When you get to the ribs, cut slowly and pay attention. The goal is not to end up with a rib in your fille.

  • STEP #9: Turn the fish around and repeat the process.

  • STEP #10: And you are done! You have two wonderful fillets and it is time to prepare them by following your favourite recipe.

Can You Eat Catfish Even if it Have Bones? [Methods of Preparing]

In the previous chapter you have seen how to remove catfish bones and get a tasty fillet.

Here are a few more things you should know about catfish preparation.

Filleting vs. Skinning catfish

So, what is the difference between skinning and filleting?

Filleting is a process of removing meat from the fish in a single piece from each side, to get a large and tasty fillet, without bones, fins, or skin.

Many people ask does catfish fillet have bones, and the answer is NO, if prepared right. If you accidentally cut through the bone while separating fillet from the body, it can happen that some bones end up in it.

Skinning is a process of skin removal that is done before filleting. Younger and smaller catfish have thinner skin than older and bigger catfish. Depending on how hard it is to remove skin, you can use knives, pliers, or even fingers.

Step by step guide from the previous chapter should help you do it easily.

Does Catfish Have Bones - Fillets

Recipes that use catfish

There are dozens of recipes that include catfish, and you can find them online. There is something for everyone’s preference.

I like to keep it simple and enjoy the taste of fish without too many additions. One of my favorite recipes is catfish baked with herbs.


  • Fresh catfish fillet
  • Butter
  • Herbs (choose any combination you prefer, like: oregano, thyme, parsley, basil…)
  • Garlic powder
  • Lemon, salt, and pepper


  • STEP #1: In a bowl mix together all the herbs, salt, and pepper.

  • STEP #2: Spice up both fillet sides with the seasoning mix you have created.

  • STEP #3: Place them on a baking pan (oiled or covered with baking paper).

  • STEP #4: Melt butter and add lemon juice and garlic into melted butter.

  • STEP #5: Pour it over the fillets.

  • STEP #6: Place the pan with fillets in the oven preheated to 350 degrees.

  • STEP #7: Bake around 15 to 20 mins, depending on n a fillet size.

And that’s it! Simple and tasty! As a side dish you can serve baked potatoes, vegetables, or anything else you like!

Does Catfish Have Bones - Recipe

What are the Risks Associated with Catfish Bones?

Some people are worried about consuming catfish due to many misconceptions that are out there. Catfish bones really do present a small risk, but it is the same with absolutely every fish you can eat.

The biggest problem is that you can accidentally eat a piece of bone, and it may get stuck in your throat. But trust me, this happens so rarely that it is an unjustified fear.

Make sure to clean the fish and chew it well. Even if there is a bone you didn’t remove, you will feel it before swallowing.

Instead of wondering does catfish have bones and worrying about it, make sure to clean it well before preparation so that you can enjoy a tasty and very healthy meal!


Catfish are very interesting species. They live in almost all world regions and numerous species exist. Their bodies are quite different but they all have similar bone structure.

Catfish are a great catch, and next time one of those ends up on your hook, take it home and use it to prepare lunch (if the water rules allow you this).

That way you will have the opportunity to take a closer look on catfish bones and learn about their anatomy.

And one more thing, catfish don’t have “standard” teeth, and they can’t bite you.

About Me

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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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