Carp vs Catfish: What’s The Difference?

Carp and catfish are two popular species of fish that are commonly kept for recreational fishing or for ornamental purposes in aquariums and ponds.

Although both species belong to the order of ray-finned fish, they have distinct differences in terms of their physical characteristics, behavior, and habitat preferences.

In this article, we will discuss the differences between carps and catfish (carps vs catfish), including common FAQs and their answers.

Carp vs Catfish
Image: Carps vs Catfish

How To Identify A Carps Species?

To identify a carp species, you can look at the following physical characteristics:

Body Shape: Carp have a large, slender body with a cylindrical shape and a large head.

Size: Carp can grow up to 4 feet in length and are typically larger than catfish.

Color: Carp have a brown or greenish color with dark spots or scale patterns on their bodies.

Fins: Carp have two dorsal fins, a small anal fin, and a large caudal fin.

Mouth: Carp have a small, downward-facing mouth that is adapted for bottom-dwelling and feeding on plants and small invertebrates.

Scales: Carp have large, easily visible scales that can be used to identify the species.

How to Identify a Catfish Species?

To identify a catfish species, you can look at the following physical characteristics:

Body Shape: Catfish have a more streamlined body shape with a distinct head shape and a large mouth.

Size: Catfish range in size from a few inches to over 6 feet in length.

Color: Catfish can vary in color, with some species having a brown or greenish color, while others may be dark gray or black.

Fins: Catfish have a single dorsal fin, an adipose fin, and a large caudal fin.

Mouth: Catfish have a large, downward-facing mouth that is adapted for feeding on a wide range of food items, including insects, crustaceans, small fish, and other aquatic creatures.

Whiskers: Catfish have distinctive whiskers, or barbels, around their mouth that are used for navigation and to locate food.

Carp vs Catfish

Physical Characteristics

Carp have a large, slender body with a cylindrical shape and a large head. They typically grow to be larger than catfish and can reach up to 4 feet in length.

Catfish have a more streamlined body with a distinct head shape and a large mouth. They range in size from a few inches to over 6 feet in length, depending on the species.

Carp have scales on their sides and a protruding upper lip, while catfish have no scales and a smooth underside.


Carp are found in a wide range of habitats, including slow-moving rivers, lakes, and ponds. They prefer still or slow-moving water bodies with a soft substrate.

On the other hand, catfish are more versatile in their habitat preferences and can be found in both fast-flowing rivers and slow-moving lakes and ponds. Some species of catfish are also found in brackish waters.

Carp are freshwater fish found in North America, Asia, and Europe. Catfish, on the other hand, are both saltwater and freshwater fish found in lakes, rivers, and coastal waters worldwide.


Carp are bottom-dwellers, primarily nocturnal, feeding on plants and small invertebrates.

Catfish are opportunistic feeders found in different parts of the water column. They feed on various food items, including insects, crustaceans, small fish, and other aquatic creatures.


Carp are herbivores and feed primarily on plants and algae. Catfish are omnivores and feed on a wide range of food items, including both plant and animal matter.


A carp is a large protein source that can be found in many lakes and rivers. They are a popular food fish in Asia.

When it comes to significant protein sources, few can compare to the common carp. This fish is a popular food in many parts of the world, and for good reason, it is packed with nutrients.

Carp are often kept for recreational fishing, and some species are also cultured for food. Catfish are also famous for recreational fishing and are kept as ornamental fish in aquariums and ponds.

Carp are especially noted for their high protein levels, making them an excellent choice for anyone looking to increase their intake. In addition to protein, carp also provide significant amounts of other vital nutrients like thiamin, niacin, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12.

Carp can grow to be quite large and provide a lot of meat. They are also easy to catch and can be caught with simple fishing gear.


Both catfish and carp are considered to be good to eat, and their taste can vary depending on the species and how they are prepared. Some species of catfish and carp are known for their sweet and delicate flavor, while others have a more robust and earthy taste.

Catfish are often considered to be a mild-tasting fish that is versatile and can be prepared in a variety of ways. They are commonly battered and fried or grilled, and can also be baked or steamed.

On the other hand, carp are often thought to have a strong, earthy taste and are often considered an acquired taste. They are commonly smoked, grilled, or baked, and can also be added to soups and stews.

In general, the taste of both catfish and carp can be improved by removing the skin and bones and cooking the fish properly. The way the fish is prepared, such as the type of marinade or seasoning used, can also greatly impact the final taste.


Can catfish eat carp?

Yes, catfish can eat carp. Catfish are omnivores and will eat various food items, including other fish species such as carp. In fact, some species of catfish, such as flathead and blue catfish, are known to feed on smaller fish, including young carp.

The size and species of the catfish, as well as the size and abundance of the carp in the area, will affect whether or not catfish will feed on carp. Smaller catfish may feed on smaller carp, while larger catfish may feed on larger carp. In some cases, catfish may feed on dead or injured carp, but may not actively hunt and feed on healthy carp.

It is important to note that in some areas, the introduction of non-native species, such as carp, can significantly impact the ecosystem and the food web, and may affect the abundance and distribution of native species, including catfish.

It is important to carefully manage and monitor the introduction of non-native species to minimize any potential negative impacts on the ecosystem.

Do catfish and carp eat the same thing?

Catfish and carp are omnivorous, meaning they eat various food items, both plant- and animal-based. However, the specific diet of each species can vary based on their size, age, habitat, and other factors.

Catfish tend to feed on a wide range of food items, including insects, crustaceans, small fish, and other aquatic creatures. Some species of catfish are bottom dwellers and feed primarily on insects and other organisms that live on the bottom of the water body. Other species may feed higher in the water column and prey on smaller fish or crustaceans.

Carp, on the other hand, feed primarily on plant-based food items, including algae, leaves, roots, and other aquatic plants. However, they will also eat small insects, crustaceans, and other small aquatic creatures if they are available.

Some carp species are notorious for damaging aquatic plants and vegetation, and they are often considered invasive species in some areas.

Can you use carp as catfish bait?

Yes, carp can be used as catfish bait. In fact, carp are one of the most popular types of bait for catfish fishing because they are widely available and their scent and flavor are attractive to many species of catfish.

Carp can be cut into chunks, fillets, or whole baits, and they can be used either fresh or frozen, depending on the preferences of the angler.

When using carp as catfish bait, it’s important to consider the size and species of the catfish you are targeting, as well as the time of year and the location of the fishing. Some catfish may prefer live or fresh bait, while others may be more attracted to frozen or processed bait.

Experimenting with different types and sizes of bait and different fishing techniques can help you determine what works best for the species and location you are fishing in.

In conclusion, carps and catfish are two distinct species of fish with differences in physical characteristics, habitat preferences, behavior, and diet. Both species have their own unique characteristics that make them popular among fish enthusiasts.

Whether you are interested in keeping carp or catfish, it’s important to research each species’ specific needs and requirements to ensure their health and well-being.