There is no specific average growth rate for catfish, but to get an idea, you can assume that six to eight-inch catfish can grow up to 2 pounds in a year. However, there are many factors that are influencing this number.
Catfish are one of the most diverse species in this world, and there are a wide variety of catfish out there with their own unique characteristics. That, of course, includes their own individual growth rates.
What factors affect catfish growth?
Six to eight inch catfish will grow a couple of pounds a year only if it is under regular feeding in warm weather. Without proper feeding and the required temperature, the growth can take up to two or three years. There are some factors affecting the growth. Let’s take a look at some of the major ones-
The greatest factor for catfish growth is undoubtedly the temperature of the water they reside in. After a lot of research, scientists proved that catfish begin active feeding and undergo rapid growth at water temperatures above 70°F. If adequate food is available, then this growth is not suppressed at high temperatures in the natural waters.
However, the effect of temperature on a catfish’s growth rate can differ among different types of catfish. For example, blue catfish will do better in the middle grounds of water temperatures. But for flathead and channel catfish, the warmer water temperature will be their favorite one.
In relation to temperature, the geographical location of a catfish will have an effect on its growth rate. While it is not 100% proven yet, it is generally assumed that catfish in the South grow faster due to the warm-water season being longer than in the North. While there is truth to this assumption, there are always exceptions.
This is to say it’s not always the case that catfish in the North always grow slower than that in the South. There are giant channel cats swimming in the Red River of northern Minnesota and mammoth flatheads in Elk City Reservoir, Kansas. In these cases, however, other external factors aside from temperature were in their favor when it came to growth.
Still or flowing water
The flow of water impacts the growth rate of a catfish. The flow of water also impacts the growth rate of a catfish. This is because food resources in still and flowing waters vary. Due to these reasons, the growth rate might vary depending on the type of water.
In this case, too, which type of water would help out the growth of which catfish can differ. This is because every fish thrives in different environments. The previous examples can be mentioned again. Blue catfish will grow faster in environments with flowing waters. For channel catfish, they will do so in standing water, particularly in reservoirs. Whereas the growth doesn’t differ at all between flowing and standing water for a flathead catfish, which is to say this specific factor doesn’t affect them at all.
Quality of The Water
This is not just in the case of catfish, but any fish in general. How good the water quality is and whether the parameters are within their preferred range are crucial factors ensuring their healthy and speedy growth. The better the water is, the healthier they will be both physically and mentally, and the nourishment will contribute to their natural growth.
For catfish, a proper pH level between 6.5 to 9 will help to stimulate growth. On the other hand, if there are chemical factors mixed within the water or the pH level is unstable, these will diminish the speedy growth of the catfish. So, if you are raising them in an aquarium, these are things you have to seriously look after.
How large can a catfish grow?
Now that you have an idea about the growth of catfish, you might be wondering what the extent of that growth can be. Well, you will certainly be blown away by it. Catfish come in several different sizes, and the largest ones among them are quite literally large.
In fact, the largest freshwater species ever caught was a catfish. A nine-foot-tall Mekong catfish was pulled out from the Mekong river of northern Thailand in 2005 which had a record-breaking weight of 646 pounds. Seven years before, in 1998, a flathead catfish caught in Elk City Reservoir of Kansas weighed as much as 123 pounds.
Channel catfish don’t typically grow that big, the average size being around 22 inches, but in 1964, Santee-Cooper Reservoir in South Carolina, the largest channel fish to date was caught. The length of it was almost 48 inches, carrying a massive weight of 58 pounds. Similarly, the largest blue catfish ever caught was in the Mississippi River in 2005, which was 130 pounds. Those would have been some crazy catfish to reel in!
These shocking numbers should give you an idea that there is no specific limit to how much a catfish can grow and how fast. These catfish that managed to grow so big must have been heavily influenced by the factors mentioned, but not all of them, even within the same genus, will be equally affected, thus the sizes continue to vary greatly.
When do catfish stop growing?
We, humans, stop growing in height after a certain age. Is it the same for catfish? The answer is no: catfish never stop growing, as in, they do have endless potential for growth. However, as they mature and reach an older age, the growth rate slows down to a great extent. This also means that the longer the fish lives, the larger it can grow.
There is no specific reason behind this continuous growth. However, it is worth mentioning that since the factors impacting catfish growth vary based on the species, how much growth potential they have is also the same. In the right water, under the right temperature, with the right food, a catfish of certain species will be able to reach their full size. The catfish growth rate is a curious matter indeed, but while science keeps exploring more about it, we can continue to be fascinated by them!