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Should I put catfish in my pond? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Should I put catfish in my pond?

Should I put catfish in my pond?
Steven – Middlebrook, VA

Catfish are some of the most diverse fish on the planet, both in behavior and appearance, and inhabit just about every continent except Antarctica. They live in shallow, freshwater environments, which can make them ideal for pond life here in North America. We generally only recommend channel catfish for ponds since they are the most common, but it will largely depend on your pond type and temperature. Catfish generally prefer warmer water (60-70 degrees Fahrenheit) with little to no currents, and since they are bottom feeders, they are drawn to darker areas.

They are also known to make for good fishing, and in warm environments they can be easy to farm and/or eat, and are very tasty if cooked properly. Fisherman and pond owners alike can use these Porcupine® Fish Attractors to help improve fishing conditions and to provide an adequate habitat for Catfish to spawn and grow. In addition we also recommend using this Game Grower Fish Food to guarantee your fish have food and to increase their overall size.

Catfish have little effect on the predator-prey relationship in freshwater environments comparative to predators like bass or prey like bluegills. They also pose no threat to humans, unless you’re planning on doing any swimming in eastern Europe, where there have been rare instances of large catfish (the 6 foot, 200 pound kind) attacking humans. Their only relative drawback is that they tend to kick up a lot of bottom debris, which can lead to cloudy, murky pond water.

In the end, putting catfish in your pond comes down to personal preference, rather than something that should or should not be done. They are well suited for pond life and will have little (if any) negative impact on the ecosystem already in place. It also doesn’t hurt that they can be pretty good to eat and easy to farm.

Porcupine® Fish Attractor Spheres

24 Responses

  1. Can we stock catfish in a spring fed pond. Without hurting the spring.

    • You can stock catfish but I would keep the population to a minimum since they do root up the bottom of the pond and can cause cloudy water. If you have a strong spring it is not likely they would disrupt it.

    • I have a 30 inch 15 lbs catfish, albino, now for 5 years, along with 20 other fish from a 24inch Coi 15in coi several shubumkins and 15 gold fish smallest is around 9 inches she eats everything I have not seen baby fish in 4 years and my grandson came over with 3 bull frog tadpoles and he was upset that the Cat fish swallowed them before they hit the bottom(I wasn’t home) would have advised placing them in the upper pond.

  2. I have a 270 gallon pond with 4 koi , can I put catfish in with them?

    • Hi Cecilia – You can put a small catfish in them but as they grow they may need to move to a new home as their barbs could cause some injury with a lot of fish in a small space.

  3. hi i live in michigan can we are thinking of adding flat head or channels in the pond but i dont know if they can survieve the winter

    • Hi Peter – Both should survive the Michigan winter as long as the pond is well maintained to reduce the chance of turnover and build up of gas under the ice. For Catfish just be sure not to stock an abundance as they do root around the bottom of the pond and can make the water cloudy.

  4. I have a Colombian catfish shark. He is getting too big for my tank and eating my fish. Can I put him in my pond outside my home in California?


    • Hi Joseph, I did a little reading about the catfish shark and if he is small and temperatures stay warm where you are at then you could probably add him to your outside pond, at least for now. As they grow however, they prefer saltier water so you may need to make some adjustments to the outdoor pond to keep their habitat. Also, since they are a more aggressive fish it may be possible that it will eventually eat smaller fish in the outdoor pond as well.

  5. hello i live in Maine and have a pond that is 90’x50′ and 12′ deep. i would like to put brook trout ,catfish,shiners in the pond. the ice will freeze 2′ deep on the pond it is spring feed and the pond is about 20 years old. it has some plant life catoninetails, frogs, pollywogs and insects larvae in it. and large rock . i would like to put native fish in it . what would be a good formula of fish in this pond. thank you.

    • Hi Will – For native fish to Maine, I would recommend getting in touch with your local Department of Natural Resources. As for pond stocking, we recommend 3 prey fish (Perch, Hybrid Bluegills, Redear Sunfish) to every 1 Predator Fish (large mouth bass, walleye). Adding Fathead Minnows is also recommended to get your population going strong. Adding catfish to your pond does not affect your predator to prey ration. But catfish will make your pond water pretty cloudy. We also recommend an aeration system in your pond. This will get you clean and oxygen-rich water, but also a healthy fish population.

  6. We are sorry we went with catfish. They have over populated the pond and the water looks like chocolate milk all the time. They have grown from 6inch to 7lbs in less than 3 years. We have offered free fish to any one that will come and catch them.

  7. Have introduced silver channel catfish 6-7″ in 2011 and they grew to 12-14″..maybe 2-3 lbs..and 2010 introduced koi and israeli carp..for algae control which has been a problem lately. Note from catfish hatchery, install breeding containers so male can protect the eggs

  8. Do not put catfish in very small ponds. My is 10×12 and I did the first year and they ate all the small and baby fish which had no where to hide.

  9. Don’t they eat tadpoles? I’d love to have catfish but don’t want to cut down on the frog population that we love so much.

    • Hi Diana,

      Any fish that is big enough will eat tadpoles regardless if its a catfish or other fish in the pond.

  10. Do catfish live well with gold fish?

    • Hi Janet,

      Catfish can mix with goldfish however keep relative size in mind. If your goldfish are small add small catfish.


  12. I have a 12″ albino channel catfish. It was only 3 inches long when I put it in a 90 gal. aquarium. By spring it will need to go out into the pond. Can channel catfish winter over, here in Ohio, like the Koi?
    Tod Norris

  13. I wouldnt mind haveing a cat for my pond, but where can I get one?

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