Are Wels Catfish Dangerous?

Wels Catfish is somewhat dangerous. There have been instances of the Wels catfish attacking humans, but is it the fish’s fault? Many times, the fish is blamed for an attack when it is provoked. Regardless, Wels catfish is a giant fish, so staying safe when encountering it is best.

Wels catfish is a species of catfish that can get very big. Due to their size, many people wonder if the fish is aggressive. Sometimes, some fish get the reputation of being dangerous. So, is Wels catfish one of them?

Wels Catfish illustration
Wels Catfish illustration

Can Wels catfish be considered dangerous?

Yes, it is a good idea to consider any super-large fish to be dangerous in water. The Wels catfish can get up to 10 feet in size and weigh around 500 pounds. This is much bigger and heavier than humans, so it is natural to be wary of a catfish this size.

Since medieval times, the Wels catfish has been depicted as predatory to move back in time. In ancient times, it was shown as a species that swallowed children whole. Of course, this is rare nowadays, considering the safety precautions put into place. But this is not entirely a story because there have been many incidences of the Wels catfish attacking humans and biting them. However, there are no direct reports of deaths caused by the Wels catfish, so it is not that dangerous. Here are the three ways Wels catfish can be dangerous for humans.

Through Biting

As mentioned above, there are chances of Wels catfish biting you, especially if it feels threatened. The catfish is not aggressive but territorial and protective over its fry. So, if you encounter a Wels catfish that is a variety of humans, it will try to ward you off and bite you if needed. The Wels catfish has tiny teeth lining its mouth that can harm you and its super-powerful jaws. So, you can end up with a missing arm or a leg if you are not careful.

When the catfish tries to warn you, it might not bite you. The Wels catfish has no scales but sharp fins that can penetrate the skin. These fins can do some serious damage as well and hurt us terribly.

Sometimes, it might not be because you did something but because the Wels catfish was hungry. Compared to Wels catfish, the humans are tiny, so the fish must think it is big enough to overpower humans. Although the catfish mainly only eats small fish, it will not hesitate to devour other catfish and maybe even try to attack humans. If the catfish does try to eat you, you are not big enough to leave with no damage. The catfish biting you is the first way you can get hurt due to this enormous catfish.

Through Infection

Another indirect way the Wels catfish can harm humans is through infection. The Wels catfish does not have poisonous fins like some other catfish but still has sharp fins. Even if the Wels catfish tries to bite, that is another way the catfish touched you.

We know that catfish are not the cleanest fish. They live at the bottom of the water, scavenge for food, and even eat the leftover food from other fishes. They carry a lot of pathogens on their bodies, even if the pathogens do not harm them. If you do not clean the wound immediately, the bacteria or virus will enter your bloodstream and, as a result, will cause serious infection.

Through Poisoning

This is a more indirect way of getting hurt due to the Wels catfish. Even if you do not come in direct contact with the fish, you can still get sick.

The Wels catfish can act as a vector for potential parasites and pathogens such as spring viremia of carp and European sheatfish virus to native fish populations. Not only will it kill these fish, but if the fish is caught and eaten, there is a chance of humans getting seriously sick as well. This is why the US has banned the Wels catfish from entering its waters. Once it enters the water, it will grow quickly and soon take over the water body, introducing infections to the fish and humans.

How to stay safe from Wels catfish?

It is straightforward to stay safe from the Wels catfish. Just stay away from it, especially if it is pregnant or newly given birth. The Wels catfish is territorial, so if you come too close to its habitat, it will drive you out in any way it can.

Also, staying far from the fish when you see it in water is recommended unless you are an experienced angler and know what you are doing. Even then, it is essential to take proper precautions because humans are no match for this aggressive fish.


The Wels catfish is a huge fish, which makes it dangerous for humans. There are also historical records of this fish being aggressive. Humans will be safe if they keep their distance from the fish.

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