Do Catfish Keep Growing? Interesting Facts And FAQ’s

We have all caught some monster catfish in our day.

At least, I hope you have experienced it once or twice before.

Not too long ago after a day of catfishing, I started thinking and having a few questions about how these catfish grow so large. I also wanted to know, do catfish keep growing? Naturally, I was curious, so I did some digging.

Do catfish keep growing?

Catfish never stop growing but the growth does slow down as the fish matures and reaches older ages. Several factors such as geographical location, the flow of water and food availability can impact catfish growth and growth rates.

There is, however, much more to cover when it comes to catfish growth and what can impact not only overall size but the rate at which catfish are capable of growing. Even temperature can play a vital role in catfish growth.

Let’s take the time to dive in a bit further at all the catfish growth factors and answer other frequently asked questions around catfish size, growth factors and how big these trophy cats can get.

Why do Catfish Keep Growing

The first thing to keep in mind is that the reason catfish keep growing and the factors impacting catfish growth vary based on the specific catfish species. Not all catfish are created equal. For example, blue catfish have been studied and known tend to grow more rapidly and for longer sustained periods of time in active and flowing water where food sources are plentiful.

catfish just caught on a hook

In addition, blue catfish have been to thrive and grow into very large fish in reservoirs where slip jack herring are available in high numbers. Makes sense to me. Blue catfish love to devour these slip jacks so it would only make sense that blue catfish grow and flourish in waters where a favorite food group is present.

Do Channel Catfish Keep Growing?

Channel catfish were a bit different in growth patterns compared to the blue catfish. With channel catfish, they experienced more growth in standing water such as reservoirs.

They did have other factors in common however such as excelling at finding food sources near flowing water which helped propel growth as well.

What’s Different About The Growth of Flathead Catfish

Flathead catfish seem to thrive no matter where what body of water you find them in. They are predators and will consume about any form of baitfish they can find or fit into their mouths.

No studies or other research I did seemed to add up to anything showing that flathead catfish thrive in one body of water compared to another.

The research did show however that you should never put one of these beasts in your backyard pond if you want other fish to be around for any substantial amount of time.

Does Water Temperature Impact Catfish Growth?

Water temperature and overall climate have been shown to have some effects on catfish growth even if the impact is small. Blue catfish seem to do well right in the middle-grounds of water temperature.

On the other hand, flathead catfish and channel catfish seem to thrive better in the warmer water temperatures.

On average the ideal water temperature to encourage growth in catfish is right around the 70 Degree F mark.

Putting All of These Catfish Growth Factors Together

To wrap a bow on it and summarize these key growth factors let’s look at like this or from a different angle.

  • Flathead Catfish Continue to Grow and Thrive if They Can Eat
  • Blue Catfish Will Keep Packing on The Pounds in Rivers at Average Temperatures
  • Channel Catfish Will Keep Beefing Up Best in Ponds and Lakes with Warmer Water Temps.

If your anything like me, you probably have more questions about catfish and how much they can really grow. Let’s take some time and look at some other frequently asked questions about catfish growth and what other factors are important.

Remember to check out my post about how to catfish in lakes from the bank.

How Large Do Catfish Grow?

Catfish can grow extremely large. A 646-pound Mekong catfish was pulled from the Mekong River. This was the largest freshwater fish ever caught. In 1998 a 123-pound flathead catfish was caught out of the Elk City Reservoir in Kansas.

Channel catfish don’t grow quite as large but has reached 58 pounds in 1964 and was caught from the Santee-Cooper Reservoir in South Carolina. The largest blue catfish ever caught or recorded to date was 130 pounds in 2005 out of the Mississippi River.

fisherman caught large catfish

Here’s A Brief Recap of These Record-Shattering Numbers

  • Mekong Catfish Record- 646 Pounds
  • Flathead Catfish- 123 Pounds
  • Channel Catfish- 58 Pounds
  • Blue Catfish- 130 Pounds

Now that’s some trophy size catfish for sure.

How Long Does It Take for A Catfish to Grow Full Size?

Farm raised catfish can reach 1 pound with 18 months. The time it takes other species of catfish such as flathead and blue catfish to reach full size in rivers, ponds and streams will depend on climate, food source availability and the body of water they inhabit.

With fish farming, many want to know how to get catfish moving along quicker.

What Can Make Catfish Grow Faster?

Providing better water quality, having flowing water and proper disease control is a great start make catfish grow faster. Fish deed and proper balance can also contribute to a healthier pond and faster-growing catfish.

Let’s dive into these a little further.

  • Water Temperature: Catfish have been known to grow the best and most rapidly in water temperature ranging between 83-86 F.
  • Flowing Water: Just as we covered previously. Catfish can grow much faster with flowing water. Catfish tend to grow fastest due to the water flow element being so crucial in rivers.
  • Fish Feed: Fish feed with a good balance can help the pond flourish not only for the fish but for plant life, soil, and insects. This creates better feeding sources for the catfish and overall increases the natural balance within your ecosystem.
  • Quality of The Water: This can be a very crucial piece to catfish growth. Proper pH levels between 6.5-9 can help stimulate growth and chemical factors within the water can diminish the ability of the catfish to grow as quickly.

How Many Years Does A Catfish Live?

I have always wondered this. How many years does a catfish live? After some research, here’s what I learned.

How many years does a catfish live depends on the species of the catfish. Catfish can live up to 20 years old. The Mekong can live 60 plus years. For most of the fish we actively angle for, you are looking in the 8-20-year range.

How Long Will A Catfish Live in Capacity?

I was also curious if it made a difference in how long a catfish will live in the wild and the opposite end of the spectrum.

If conditions are ideal, you can expect a catfish in capacity to live 10 years or slightly longer in captivity if conditions are controlled and well maintained.

How Much Does A Catfish Grow in A Year?

This was something I have always wanted to know.

There is no universal growth in terms of how much a catfish grow in a year. When a catfish reaches 8 years old, they are 13 inches long a majority of the time.

How Long Do Channel Catfish Live?

Channel catfish in most circumstances live to 6-8 years old but cases have presented where channel catfish live past 10 years old. They will reach 12-32 inches in length during this time span and after the first year, channel catfish are about 2.5 inches in length.

Keep Catching, Taking A Picture and Releasing to Let the Catfish Grow

This was purely just to answer some of your frequently asked questions about catfish. In all honesty, they are fun answers to find and learn about our favorite fish to angle for. Catfish reaching the sizes that they do is what makes them so spectacular to catch on a consistent basis.

Make sure to keep catching, getting a nice photo and getting the catfish back in the water so we can all continue to catch the trophy size catfish and keep them living as long as possible.

You might also want to read my article; do catfish like cold water.

Bob Hoffmann

The author of this post is Bob Hoffmann. Bob has spend most of his childhood fishing with his father and now share all his knowledge with other anglers. Feel free to leave a comment below.

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