Different Types of Catfish

The order Siluriformes has a significant quantity of variety. It has over 3,000 species spread across 35 distinct groups. In contrast, there are just a few hundred species in the primate order, which includes all humans, apes, and monkeys.

In terms of diversity, they rank second or third among all vertebrates. Curiously, one in twenty vertebrates and one in ten kinds of fish are catfish.

Different Types of Catfish

On every continent save Antarctica, you may find several varieties of catfish. Some species of catfish are also found in marine habitats.

However, catfish are most regularly and widely found in freshwater environments.

Here are a few catfish species to get you started:

Blue Catfish

This is the biggest species of catfish in North America, native to Mexico and the southeastern United States. Because of its blue-grey coloring, this fish is very tolerant to brackish water, allowing it to flourish in various rivers and lakes.

This species of catfish is also known as Mississippi White Catfish, high fin blue, and humpback blue, among others. Ictalurus furcatus is the scientific name for the Blue Catfish, where ‘Ictalurus’ is Greek for “fish cat” and ‘fucatus’ is Latin for “forked.”

Together, the scientific name references the blue catfish’s forked tail fin. Most of these species inhabit the tributaries and main waterways of vast river systems.

In the winter, all blue catfish species migrate downstream in quest of warmer waters. In contrast, in the summer, they migrate upstream in search of cooler temperatures.

Blue catfish are endemic to the Mississippi, Ohio, and Missouri river basins, Mexico, Texas, and northern Guatemala.

They are simple to detect because, unlike Channel Catfish, they lack spots and often have a slate grey back and upper sides with a conspicuous white belly.

Blue catfish often have 30-35 rays on their anal fin and an estimated 20-30 year lifetime.

Channel Catfish

This species is found east of the Rocky Mountains in the United States and Mexico. It holds the distinction of being the most fished catfish species in the world. If you’ve ever eaten catfish, you’ve probably eaten this sort of fish.

Because of its popularity has spread throughout Europe, Asia, and South America, where it is often considered an invasive species.

Ictalurus punctatus is the scientific name for the Channel Catfish, which refers to its speckled appearance.

These species, like the blue catfish, have highly forked tails; the main difference is that the latter’s tail has a different color.

Channel catfish are often olive-brown or slate in color, with blue or grey tones on the sides. Also, their bellies and undersides are white to silvery white.

As their scientific name suggests, one of the most noticeable characteristics of channel catfish is the presence of many little black dots down the length of their bodies.

Intriguingly, these patches may not always be present in more critical fish species. For example, compared to the blue catfish, the anal fin of this species has 24-29 rays.

Channel Catfish are abundant in lakes, rivers, major streams, and reservoirs with a low range of current velocity.

The popularity of these species in the United States is primarily due to two factors.

First, they are abundant and easily accessible in most rivers and lakes in the United States.

Second, they are an excellent food source. This is also how they are often captured. Nonetheless, constructing baits with grains like wheat or range cubes is a common approach or strategy for capturing them.

Cory Catfish

Cory catfish are widely used in aquariums. The species burrows its nose into river bottoms and vacuums food in the wild.

When raised in captivity, cory catfish consume an omnivorous diet of fish pellets and other things such as worms.

This species of little aquarium catfish reaches a maximum size of 3 inches. Their size makes them a good option for folks with tiny aquariums who like keeping a limited number of fish as pets.

Cory catfish are also often referred to as Corydoras catfish and Cory cats. In addition, widespread freshwater fish species are frequently referred to as “armoured catfish” because their bodies seem to be covered with bone-like substances.

They also have whisker-like barbels on either side of their lips and, if properly cared for and maintained, may live up to 20 years on average.

Cory catfish are famous in most fish retailers and aquarium owners due to their ease of maintenance.

They have a calm, non-aggressive disposition and seem quite meek and timid compared to other catfish species.

They are known to be bottom-dwellers that search for food near the tank’s bottom. These species are also omnivores.

Therefore they strongly choose a combination of plant-based and animal-based.

Glass Catfish

This must be one of the most intriguing and unique species of catfish. Glass Catfish are so called because their bodies are entirely translucent. This is also why they are popularly known as “ghost catfish” or “phantom catfish.”

Their bodies are translucent, allowing one can view their innards and bones, and their ‘hidden’ tail fin is barely visible to the human eye.

The glass catfish’s ability to hide in the face of fish predators is an extra benefit of their transparency.

The species of glass catfish have large barbels on their heads and a prominent dorsal fin on their backs.

Their whisker-like barbels extend beyond their face and emerge from their nostrils, making them very sensitive to environmental changes.

Intriguingly, most glass catfish are believed to be able to detect electromagnetic waves in their environment, which has attracted a large number of scientists who are currently researching how this exceptional ability of this catfish can be used to aid patients with Parkinson’s disease and epilepsy.

Glass catfish inhabit slow-moving rivers and streams and originated in Thailand. Although their transparent bodies are often favorable, they represent a significant hazard to their survival when the water quality is low, and they are mistaken for garbage.

Chinese Algae Eater

Catfish of the species Chinese algae eater are also known as Sucker Fish, Lemon algae eater, Honey Sucker, and Siamese algae eater, among others.

They flourish in medium to large bodies of water, such as lakes, rivers, tributaries, and inflowing streams.

Popularly regarded as the most significant aquarium fish, they are indigenous to the southern regions of China and a few expansive regions of Southeast Asia.

Due to their slim bodies and sucker-like mouths, these species are known as “suckerfish.”

Their average lifetime is between 5 and 10 years, and their average length is 2 centimeters.

The body of the Chinese algae eater has a gorgeous golden hue with a series of black dots and a band of a deeper hue running down its length.

Micro Catfish

This tropical freshwater fish from South America is one of the world’s tiniest catfish species. It only develops to a length of one or two inches.

Mekong Giant Catfish

At the other end of the range, the vast Mekong giant catfish is a member of the shark catfish family. It lives in Southeast Asia and China’s Mekong basin.

The Goonch

They are also known as the giant devil catfish, which is a notable species that may reach more than 200 pounds. The goonch, predominantly found in India, has sometimes generated both interest and dread.

In conclusion, there are many different types of catfish that can be kept in a home aquarium. Some of the most popular types of catfish.

If you’re interested in keeping a catfish, it’s important to research the various types available so you can choose the right one for your aquarium.


  1. Wikepedia: Catfish
  2. The Catfish Book Paperback by Linda Crawford Culberson (Author), Craig Claiborne (Foreword)
  3. Tucker, Craig C., and Edwin H. Robinson. Channel catfish farming handbook. Springer Science & Business Media, 1990.