Do Catfish Clean Ponds?

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“Can I get some catfish to clean my pond?” 

We get asked this question quite frequently…  The one-word answer to that question is “No”.  Contrary to popular opinion, catfish don’t eat muck and vegetation from the bottom of the pond.  Catfish are predators that prey on a wide variety of aquatic animals, but they do not eat pond muck.  I believe that this misconception may arise from observations of catfish stirring around on the bottom, hunting for aquatic invertebrates like crayfish that live on the bottom.  I also think that there is a widely held belief that catfish are “bottom feeders” and thus the legend of catfish “cleaning the bottom” was born.

So, if catfish don’t clean ponds, what good are they?  That depends on your pond and more specifically, the goals for your fishery.  Catfish are predators, so they fill a similar role to Bass in many ways.  They keep forage species such as Bluegills in check and help to balance your pond populations.  Given the right conditions, catfish can grow very large and can certainly fill the role of “top predator” in a pond.  In most northern ponds, they don’t tend to reproduce prolifically like Bass can, so overpopulation of catfish is something that we almost never hear about.

Catfish can also be very fun to catch on a rod and reel and when grown in high quality water, they are excellent table fare if you are interested in using your pond as a food source.  Catfish can also be grown at fairly high densities in a monoculture (only one species) by folks that are interested in more intensive fish farming activities.  Most of the commercial production of catfish is done in the southern United States because of higher water temperatures which promote faster growth.  But that does not mean that high quality catfish can’t be grown up north; it just takes longer with colder water temperatures.

To have catfish stocked or not, really depends on management goals.  If you like to have catfish, like to catch catfish, or like to eat catfish, then catfish can be a great addition to your pond community.  If you are not a catfish fan, they aren’t absolutely necessary if you have other predator species such as Largemouth Bass to balance your forage species.

Catfish are a great tasting sport fish that can be a great alternative predator for your pond, but they simply do not eat muck or “clean ponds”.

Call us toll free at (877) 389-2514 to place an order, or for more information and advice on how to stock your pond to best meet your expectations.