How Long Do Catfish Live? You May Not Know!

how long do catfish live

Despite being widespread, catfish have a short lifespan. Let’s learn more about the lifespan of catfish and the variables that may impact it.

In the US, catfish is one of the most well-liked and common fish species. In most of the nation’s rivers, streams, and freshwater lakes, they can be found. They are enormous and produce delicious fish fries despite their unattractive appearance. Catfish have a particularly long lifespan because they can survive quite well without water. How long do catfish live, then?

Ideally, catfish can live from 8-20 years. Again, this varies depending on the species. Your catfish’s lifespan will largely depend on its diet, the quality of its water, and the size of its tank.

How Long Do Catfish Live?

Different species of catfish can have different life spans. Catfish can typically live up to 20 years, but Wels catfish can endure up to 30 years in the water.

The Mekong giant, which can live up to 60 years old, is the species with the longest lifespan. The number of people living nearby and the types of food available to catfish both affect how long they live.

how long do catfish live

How Long Can a Catfish Live Without Food?

In waters that are cooler than 70 degrees Fahrenheit, catfish can go for extended periods without eating. In fact, during the winter, when the water temperature falls below fifty degrees, they frequently stop eating.

The rest of the year, they feed themselves by eating every day and moving to where the food is. Catfish are known for consuming a wide variety of foods, including larvae, insects, snails, other fish, and fish eggs.

Even dogs occasionally swimming in the lake or river with them are eaten by some catfish, along with frogs, birds, and other animals. Additionally, they consume plants and algae, particularly those young fish, also known as fry. Learn how to catch river catfish here.

They are typically fed every day in catfish farms, which helps them grow quickly, at least during warm weather. Since they didn’t notice a significant change in weight, some feeders stop feeding them when the weather gets colder.

According to studies, catfish that were fed at least one percent of their body weight over the winter gained 18% of their body weight, while fish that weren’t fed over the winter lost 9% of their body weight.

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How Long Can a Catfish Live Out of Water?

Catfish, in contrast to much other fish, have a special organ that allows them to survive out of water for up to 18 hours. Several hours without water are possible for some catfish thanks to a suprabranchial organ. Located above the gills’ arches, this organ resembles a lung.

Similar to how a human’s lungs work, it aids catfish in taking in oxygen from the air. Catfish benefit from this organ because it frequently enables them to travel overland to look for more water when there is a drought. Because they can breathe oxygen from the air, they can endure muddy conditions for a long time.

The time that can be spent surviving without water is constrained because it does not absorb as much oxygen as it does in the water.

When bringing a catfish home after fishing, it is best to pack some water in a cooler with plenty of water, kill it, and clean it at home, or kill it, clean it, and pack it on the ice at the lake to keep it fresh and prevent it from spoiling on the way home.

how long do catfish live

The Lifespan of Different Catfish Species

Depending on the species, different catfish have different life spans. The majority of catfish species, however, only live for five to seven years on average.

Flathead Catfish

A flathead catfish’s life expectancy is how long? Five to twenty-two years is the average life span of a flathead catfish. However, there are reports of some people living to be 28 years old.

The most distinguishing trait of the species, as its name implies, is the flat head of a catfish. Because of its yellow skin, some anglers call it the “yellow cat.”

Channel Catfish

The lifespan of channel catfish is how long? An average member of this species lives 14 years. The oldest channel catfish known to science is 24 years old. The most valuable aquatic species raised commercially in the US are channel catfish.

In North American waters, there are several species of catfish, but only seven are cultured or have the potential to be produced commercially. They are freshwater species, but they can live and even flourish in brackish waters.

At 18 months or when they weigh 11/4 pounds, the majority of farm-raised channel catfish are harvested. In production ponds, the length of time the fish are kept in various water temperatures, the water temperature, the palatability, quantity, and quality of food fed, the water quality, and the frequency of feeding determine their rate of growth.

Wels Catfish

The Wels catfish, the only catfish species that is native to Europe, matures to a length of 60 inches and has variable coloration depending on its habitat.

Welsh catfish raised in clear water have skin that is nearly black in color as opposed to those raised in murky water, which has greenish-brown skin. Although they typically live for 15 to 30 years, some have reached the old age of 80.

Blue Catfish

How long do catfish, especially blue catfish, live? Averaging 25 years, these ones have a remarkable lifespan. The blue catfish has a large body and smooth blue skin.

They have barbels on every surface of their mouths, just like other catfish species. With a length of up to 65 inches, they are the biggest catfish in North America.

Mekong Giant Catfish

The Mekong giant catfish is a white and gray fish that is among the largest freshwater fish known to man. It can be easily distinguished from other species by its sparse to nonexistent barbels.

A specimen of the species can weigh up to 440 lbs. and grows quickly. in just a matter of 6 years. Ages of 60 are not uncommon for Mekong giant catfish.


How Long Do Catfish Live in a Tank?

Catfish typically live for 5 to 10 years, but some species have been known to live up to 15 years. How long a catfish life depends on a variety of factors, including diet, water quality, and tank size.

How Old is a 24 Inch Catfish?

In many river systems, flatheads take 5 to 7 years to reach an approximate 30-inch length. However, in the Three Rivers system, it takes 15 years for a flathead to reach 24 inches. In the Three Rivers system, large trophy flatheads can live up to 35 years old.”

How Long Can a Catfish Live in Mud?

If there is enough water around it, catfish can survive for months in mud if necessary. They will attempt to relocate to an area with more water if it becomes too dry. They can use their suprabranchial organ to stay alive for several hours without water or in a muddy environment with little water.

Conclusion: the Lifespan of Catfish

Depending on the level of fishing in the area, a healthy channel catfish has a normal lifespan of between 6 and 10 years. Some cunning and renowned catfish, like Old Jake in the fishing pond in my hometown, have been known to live 18–20 years.

It’s exciting and difficult to catch catfish, which are plentiful in the US. Knowing the exact lifespan of catfish is crucial if you practice catch and release, especially when they are out of the water. Make sure the fish doesn’t dry out so they can return to their habitat unharmed.

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