What is a Speckled Catfish?

There is no doubt that you can find many different catfish species. This means that there are many different appearances that a catfish’s body can take. Therefore, what does it imply if you hear the term speckled catfish?

One term to describe a pattern on catfish is called speckled. This is a broad term that does not include just one species of catfish. There are many speckled catfish that you can find in the wild when fishing or simply observing.

What are speckled catfish?

Speckled catfish is a broad term, and sometimes these fish are also called salt and pepper catfish. Most of the time, when you see a speckled catfish, it is either a bullhead catfish or channel catfish. However, there is a captively bred spotted Raphael catfish that is also considered a speckled catfish. This captively bred fish is kept as a pet in an aquarium.

One thing about speckled catfish is that they are not caught in the wild most of the time. The markings on their body are prominent when the fish is farm raised. In the wild, the body of the catfish is determined by the diet and the environment that it is living in.

Here is more about these three main types of speckled catfish.

Channel Catfish

This is one of the most common catfish species out there. It is found in most bodies of water and has taste buds all over its body, especially around gills and whiskers. It is a big catfish that can get around 22 inches in length but even get 52 inches in length in the wild.

The fish is found in many places, which means it is considered invasive. However, anglers target them a lot because they are famous as food and people all over love eating these catfishes. Needless to say, these fishes are very famous among anglers and people.

Channel Catfish

Bullhead Catfish

This is another highly famous catfish that is less widespread than channel catfish but just as popular. The most popular type of bullhead catfish is the brown bullhead catfish that is native to North America. These are also large fish that get around 20 inches in size. The fish can have a speckled look that is a different color of brown than their body.

Bullhead catfish are also eaten by people, which is why they are caught in many places. They are mostly caught in the evening and in cooler weather. Just like channel catfish, they are considered to be a delicious meal.

Black Bullhead Catfish

Spotted Raphael Catfish

This is one fish that is not a food item and instead is a very sought after pet. Like most other catfish, it is also omnivorous and eats whatever it can find in the tank, but it is a peaceful community tank fish that many people like to keep.

This fish has beautiful black and white marking which gives it the name speckled catfish. The main attraction of this fish is the ability of the fish to make a croaking noise when it is taken out of the water. This is why it is also called a “talking” catfish. It is a rare species of catfish, so it is expensive to buy and keep in the tank.

How to identify speckled catfish?

Now that you know the three types of speckled catfish, you know that when you fish for catfish, there are chances of catching only bullhead or channel catfish in the wild. The third type of spotted catfish is very rare in the wild, so there is almost no chance that you will stumble upon it. When you catch a speckled catfish, you should identify what type of catfish you have caught.

The location

The place where you went fishing for the catfish can determine the species that you have caught. If you went to a spot that mostly has channel catfish, the speckled catfish that you caught most probably is channel catfish. Similarly, if you go to a spot that has lots of bullhead catfish, you will catch that one. However, this method does not tell you 100% about the catfish that you have caught.

Physical Characteristics

One way to determine what fish you have caught is to look at their tail. A bullhead catfish will have a tail that is rounded, and a channel catfish has a tail that is forked. This is very easy to identify the fish that you have caught. These two species of catfish have very similar spotting, so it can be hard to know which one is which by looking at the spots alone.

Another way to determine is by looking at the color of the fish. A bullhead catfish has a yellow belly and is usually brown to black in color. On the other hand, channel catfish have a belly that is whitish in color, so when the fish is cleaned, if it has a white belly, it is catfish.

Ask Others

Another way to be completely sure about the catfish that you have is by asking others. If you have someone with you, ask their opinion. If not, you can take a picture of the fish and search online to see what species of fish it is.

If you have time, you can even post the fish picture on online forums that specialize in fish, as they are very good at identifying the species of the fish. There are experts everywhere that will be able to tell the species of the catfish just by looking at the picture.


Speckled catfish is a broad term that can include many different species of catfish, so you cannot use it to talk about only one catfish. There were three popular spotted or speckled catfish mentioned here, channel, bullhead, and spotted Raphael catfish. However, there are some more catfishes, like Corydoras catfish, that can be considered to be speckled catfish.

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