Catfish is among the most popular and abundant species of fish in the US. They are in most rivers, streams, and freshwater lakes throughout the country. Although they don’t look very pretty, they’re massive and make delicious fish fry. Being quite resilient even without water, catfish have a particularly long life expectancy. So, how long do catfish live? That’s what we’ll tackle in this article.
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How Long Do Catfish Live?
The lifespan of catfish can vary across various species. In general, catfish can live up to 20 years, but Wels catfish can live up to 30 years in the water.
The species that has the longest lifespan is the Mekong giant and it can live up to the age of 60. The population density and food sources of catfish also have an impact on their lifespan.
How Long Can Catfish Live Out of Water?
Catfish can survive hours after they’re taken out of the water so long as their skin stays moist. There are catfish recorded that have lived up to 18 hours even without water. These species are well-known for their impressive ability to survive even when taken out of the water and caught with catfish rods and catfish reels.
There are catfish species that can breathe even when it’s out of their habitat due to the supra-branchial organ of the fish. This organ allows the catfish to travel a short distance on land in order to get to the water.
Catfish, regardless of the species, have permeable skin that’s capable of absorbing oxygen. they’re definitely a special breed. During drought, catfish bury themselves in mud, absorbing oxygen through their skin. This allows them to remain alive for up to an entire year.
However, should the mud dry out, catfish will die. If you take catfish out of their natural habitat and place them on dry land, they won’t last an hour.
More Interesting Facts About Catfish
Another one of the most frequently asked questions of our readers pertaining to catfish is: are catfish freshwater fish?
Catfish (Siluriformes) belong to a very diverse group of fish with gray fins and barbels that resemble whiskers around their mouths.
The majority of catfish live on freshwater; however, there are two species that live on saltwater. Over half of all the species of catfish in the world are native to the US. This includes flathead catfish, channel catfish, and blue catfish.
Catfish are bottom-dweller fish. They give a hard fight, and they taste incredible. In addition, catfish has over a hundred thousand taste buds. They are very sensitive to food, which is why they are willing biters. They’re easy to hook even with minimal equipment either from the bank or a boat.
The Lifespan of Different Catfish Species
How long does a flathead catfish live? The typical lifespan of a flathead catfish is 5 to 22 years. But, there are records of some living up to the age of 28.
As its name suggests, a flathead catfish has a flat head, the most distinctive feature of the species. It has yellow skin, which is why some anglers refer to it as a yellow cat.
How long do channel catfish live? This species has an average lifespan of 14 years. The oldest recorded channel catfish have reached 24 years old. Channel catfish are the most prized aquatic animals that are cultured commercially in the US.
There are several species of catfish that can be found in North American waters, but only seven are cultured or have the potential to be commercially produced. Although they’re freshwater species, they can still survive and even thrive in brackish waters.
Most farm-raised channel catfish are harvested at 18 months or when they reach 11/4 lbs. In production ponds, their growth rate is determined by the length of time the fish are held at various water temperatures, the water temperature, palatability, quantity, and quality of food fed, water quality, and frequency of feeding.
The only species of catfish native to Europe, the Wels catfish reaches 60 inches in length upon maturity and its color can vary, depending on the fish’s environment.
Welsh catfish that are in murky water has greenish-brown skin while those raised in clear water have darker, close to black skin. Their lifespan is between 15 and 30 years, but there have been ones that aged up to 80.
How long do catfish live, particularly blue catfish? These ones also have an impressive lifespan, reaching 25 years on average. The blue catfish have large bodies and smooth blue skin.
Similar to other catfish species, they have whisker-like barbels all over their mouths. They’re the largest catfish in North America, growing up to 65 inches long.
Mekong Giant Catfish
Considered one of the biggest known freshwater fish, the Mekong giant catfish is white and gray, and it’s often distinguished from other species as it has little to no barbels.
The species has a fast growth rate and it can weigh up to 440 lbs. in just a matter of 6 years. There are Mekong giant catfish that reach the age of 60.
Catfish are abundant in the US and they’re very exciting and challenging to catch. Knowing exactly how long catfish can survive, particularly out of the water, can be important if you’re practicing catch and release. Make sure that the fish doesn’t dry out so they can return unharmed to their habitat.
If you plan on doing a catch and release for catfish, we would suggest you get a reliable hook removal tool. There are hundreds of options available online and they are designed for a quick and safe hook removal from the mouths of fish.
A hook removal tool helps minimize the damage and stress that catfish experience when caught.
I catch catfish in the river and bring them home and put them in my tank. They did not survive as each one of them got a big Shore where I had hooked then. That’s a big sore not ashore. They have all of that soft flesh up around their mouth and it doesn’t take a hook.
As an avid saltwater (sometimes fresh water) fisher-person, I would like to say that this is a great article. Very informative. Makes me want to go fishing right now.