When you hear the word “catfish,” what comes to mind? Can you imagine a delicious freshwater fish or a gigantic monster in the depths of the river?
While small-sized pond catfish are the most popular, large catfish species dominate the wild waters.
That’s right; a catfish could be so giant you would think it’s a monster!
A typical example is the Mekong giant catfish which is 9-foot-long and weighs 646 pounds, according to the Guinness Book of Records.
There are other species of this gigantic nature, and if you want to discover the largest catfish in the world, stick around till the end of this article.
1. Giant Mekong Catfish
Unlike other giant catfish species, the Mekong catfish lacks stripes, barbels, and teeth. It also has low-set eyes, giving it a pale facial appearance.
With a high growth rate of about 440 pounds in six years, this specie produced the known largest catfish in the World. They could live up to 60 years is their lifespan.
The Mekong catfish is a specie that’s currently faced with extinction. Although once abundant in the Mekong basin, these giant catfish have declined by at least 95% in a century.
Some scientists believe there are only a few hundred adult Mekong fish alive.
Biologists say the Mekong giant catfish feeds in Cambodia’s Tonle Sap Lake and spawns in Thailand.
2. Blue Catfish
The blue catfish has a flat fin on its back and a tail with two forks. They have silvery-blue backs and white bellies, with four sets of whisker-like barbels on their mouths.
While most adults are less than 2 feet long, this large catfish can grow up to 5 feet long and weigh more than 100 pounds.
Blue catfish usually live for about 10 to 15 years but can survive up to 25 years in some cases.
Despite its long life expectancy, this freshwater fish prefers fast-moving, deep rivers and channels.
For one thing, it can survive in almost any aquatic environment as long as it has a high tolerance for salinity levels.
This fish is native to the Mississippi, Missouri, and Ohio river basins.
These carnivores are called man-eaters due to their aggressive nature. Prey includes crustaceans, amphibians, and invertebrates along the river’s bottom.
Furthermore, their size allows them to drag victims with the river current. They will eat human corpses.
Regular catfish are similar in color to other fish but have unique markings. This flat-headed catfish has razor-sharp teeth. This fish’s nasal barbels are the longest.
They have catfish-like sensory pores on their heads: goonch catfish average 2 m long and 100 kg. Rear cases may be larger.
The Piraiba catfish is one of the largest catfish you’d find in the Amazon region, if not the largest.
Piraiba can grow up to 360cm long and weigh up to 200.0 kg, even though they are usually found in aquariums with a 120cm length. The Piraiba’s underbelly is white.
Furthermore, some like to equate Piraiba to a type of shark because of its extensive, spiky dorsal fin. They eat primarily fish, even other fish of the same species.
More enormous individuals can eat anything from rats and birds to dogs and cats to snakes and amphibians.
5. Redtail Catfish (Pirarara)
The redtail catfish has a big head and a wide mouth with three long barbels on each side (two pairs below the mouth and one above). It comes in different colors and can grow to 3 feet or more in captivity.
Some have been seen in the wild that was as tall as 5 feet. Anglers love them because they are big and make excellent game fish.
This is one of the largest catfish in the world you’d find in the river beds of the Amazon and Rio Orinoco basins. Its inhabitant covers a large part of South America.
This type of fish is prevalent for sport fishing and farmed for food in the Amazon.
6. Sharptooth Catfish
One may argue that the Sharptooth catfish is Africa’s most extensively dispersed fish. Unlike other species, it does not have a dorsal fin spine or adipose fin.
A long dorsal and anal fin extends nearly to but is not attached to this creature’s caudal fin.
The sharp tooth catfish can survive in various habitats but prefers flood plains, slow-moving rivers, lakes, and dams.
With different breathing apparatus, this species may breathe while active and in turbid or desiccated environments.
7. Spotted Sorubim
These catfish are native to the so Francisco and Paraná—Paraguay River basin of South America and are known as spotted sorubim.
The length of this species is 166 centimeters. They have big heads, probably three times longer than their entire width.
With a brown upper body and creamy belly, this giant catfish camouflages itself as it swims through the lack.
They are equipped with eyes that can see above and below them, coupled with very long whiskers.
These features make them the ultimate predators of smaller fishes at night.
Furthermore, the spotted soribim is a very social catfish usually found moving in groups.
While they can adapt to life in fast, slow, or still-moving water, they typically prefer environments with sandy bottoms and avoid salty water bodies.
8. Wels Catfish
Wels catfish are slime-covered scaleless catfish with flattened tails and long, scaleless bodies and one of the largest catfish in the world. Their tiny dorsal fin is made up of one anal spine.
According to several sources, Wels catfish can weigh anywhere from 300 to 660 pounds. They might be around for decades, possibly up to 80 years.
If you’re looking for Wels Catfish, you’re most likely to find it at the bottom of a waterway.
Large rivers, lakes, floodplains, irrigated channels, ponds, and brackish water of coastal areas are all habitats that can thrive.
9. Flathead Catfish
The head is flattened, with a protruding lower jaw, and the tail fin isn’t forked like in blue and channel catfish.
Flathead catfish can be 3 to 4 feet long and 100 pounds (45 kg); 50-pounders are typical in mature populations. They are Texas’ second-largest sport fish behind blue catfish.
Flathead catfish enjoy murky (cloudy) and slow currents in deep pools of streams, rivers, canals, lakes, and reservoirs. They typically range from the Great Lakes to the Gulf.
10. Tiger Shovel Nose Catfish
The mouths of these fish are long, comprehensive, and flat, as implied by their common name.
They have long, somewhat forward-angled barbs that emerge from the front of their mouths. These aid them in navigating murky seas.
In terms of size, Tiger shovelnose catfish are typically between 2.5 and 3 feet long in captivity.
In the wild, these fish can get even larger, although, in their natural habitat, they rarely exceed four feet in length.