A Wels catfish resting at the bottom.

The Wels catfish, or sheatfish, is a massive type of freshwater fish from Eastern and Northern Europe. This species was additionally introduced to Western Europe, where it is regarded as a prized sport fish.

The Wels catfish is significantly larger than most of its counterparts. In fact, only two other species of fish can rival it in terms of size. These are the Mekong Giant fish and the Piraiba.

It is not surprising, especially when considering that this species of catfish can weigh more than 300 pounds. Explore several more interesting details about the Wels catfish.

Largest Wels catfish: World Record.

Sources say that Dino Ferrari, an Italian native, presently holds the record for the biggest Wels Catfish ever reeled in on the rod.

Dino caught this particular beast along Italy’s Po Delta. When measured, it reportedly stretched an impressive 8.8 feet long, weighing 280 pounds in the process. When he was interviewed, Dino revealed that it took about 40 minutes to bring this massive catfish to heel.

Dino Ferrari posing with his record wels catfish.
(Image source: https://www.flickr.com/search/?text=wels%20catfish)

However, the fact that Dino released the fish back into the water after he had recorded its measurement threw this record into doubt.

Interestingly, a few other sources such as the Mirror ran a story that suggested that the largest Wels Catfish ever caught along the 400 mile Po River measured at about 308 pounds. Another publication disputed this, saying that the fish only weighed in at about 317 pounds.

One thing that both publications agreed on was the fact that this large beast measured at about 9.1 feet in length.

Wels catfish Size.

Research has shown that, on average, an adult Wels catfish stretches about 4 to 5 feet long, weighing anywhere between 30 to 40 pounds. It is rare to find an adult that is about 6 ft 7 inches. On the larger end of the spectrum, they can easily weigh over 140 pounds.

Experts say that the size of this species of fish is directly linked to its surrounding area. If it lives in decent conditions, it is likelier to grow bigger.

A captured Wels catfish
The wels catfish is one of the largest species of catfish on record. (Image source: https://www.flickr.com/search/?text=wels%20catfish)

It is believed that they can grow up to 15 feet. With a measurement like this, it comes as no surprise that they could easily weigh anywhere between 300 to even 600 pounds. One study carried out in 1856 recorded species that were easily over 16 feet tall.

Wels catfish Description.

One of the most stunning features about the Wels catfish is its head, which is shaped like a triangle. Remarkably, it accounts for about 20% of the catfish’s body. This particular fish also lacks scales on its body; instead, its body has a lengthy coat covered with mucus.

Its snout is also flat and circular. The Wels catfish additionally has nostrils that are spaced far apart. This fish also has a tiny mouth, equally smaller eyes, and about a hundred soft teeth that are pointed. The Wels catfish’s tail is not only flat but also round and small.

Another remarkable feature the wels catfish has are six protruding barbules that resemble cat whiskers. Interestingly, this is where they get their name from.

Wels catfish Diet.

This type of fish is classified as an opportunistic feeder. They survive on a diet of insects, annelid worms, crustaceans, crayfish, mollusks, worms, mussels, and gastropods.

Larger Wels catfish have also been known to prey on ducks, other aquatic birds, rats, mice, and even frogs. When food is scarce, the wels catfish might even turn to cannibalism.

A Wels catfish trying to catch a bird
A catfish trying to consume a bird.

When they are young, these fish are reliant on a diet of aquatic plants, planktons, and larval insects.

Like other catfish, this species also boasts an acute sense of smell, which improves its ability to hunt. Being the opportunistic feeders that they are, the Wels catfish will feast on almost anything, whether it’s dead or alive.

Lifespan and reproduction.

Studies have shown that the Wels catfish can live up to 60 years in captivity. In some cases, however, they have been known to live for over 80 years.

Once they are fully matured, the female Wels catfish can produce about 30,000 eggs per kg of its total body weight. Their male counterparts will then guard the eggs until they hatch. This can take anywhere between 3 to 10 days, subject to the surrounding water temperature.

Can you eat the Wels catfish?

Experts recommend sticking to an individual no heavier than 14kg if you have a hankering for catfish.

The larger the catfish, the more likely they are to contain a higher fat count and toxic waste matter; the latter stems from the fact that they are at the very top of the food chain. While they don’t make for good meals, the Wels catfish still remains an excellent choice for most anglers.

Wels catfish-Nutrition facts (100 g)
Calories-115
Protein-17.2g
Fat-5.1g
Magnesium-20mg
Sodium-50mg
Potassium-240mg
Iron-1mg
Calcium-50mg

Location and Habitat.

Most Wel catfish prefer sunken trees, slow-moving rivers, river beds, and deep temperate lakes. Their ideal location is typically someplace sheltered. Remarkably, a small population of these catfish species was also discovered along the Chernobyl exclusion zone.

A Wels catfish resting at the bottom.
A Wels catfish resting at the base of the water. (Image source: https://www.flickr.com/search/?text=wels%20catfish)

Quite a number of catfish were found inhabiting long-forgotten cooling ponds scattered next to inactive power plants. Switching focus to their range, we found that Wels catfish mostly inhabit Eurasia, an area that stretches across Central to Eastern Europe.

This encompasses the waters of the Baltic, Caspian, North, and Aegean Sea. Originally, this fish species could also be found in the South of Sweden, Iran, Turkey, and Greece.

Facts about the Wels catfish.

  • The scientific name of the Wels catfish is ‘Silurus glanis.’
  • This species of fish additionally poses a threat to people. There have been several reports of the Wels catfish attacking humans in the water. One such incident occurred back in 2009 when an Austrian angler was bit by a catfish. Fortunately, he managed to break free of its grip.
  • The Wels catfish’s anal fin is so long that it stretches to its caudal fin.
  • These catfish can come in a variety of colors, ranging from yellow, blue, orange to green. Some individuals can even be classified as albino.
  • This species of fish relies on an ambushing technique to capture its prey. They lay in wait, typically at the river bottom or within a hollowed tree once it picks up vibrations emitted by nearby prey.
  • Its eyes have adapted to seeing in the dark.
  • The Wels catfish’s teeth do not allow it to chew its prey. Instead, it will just suck it in whole.

One Response

  1. William November 4, 2020

Leave a Reply