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


Q: Should I put catfish in my pond?

Q: Should I put catfish in my pond?

Francis – Avalon, WI

A: Of all the fish species you could stock in your pond, catfish is an excellent choice. These bottom dwellers live in inland or coastal water on every continent, except Antarctica, and include some of the most varied fish on the planet. Channel catfish, the most common type stocked for sport fishing, thrives in shallow waters like your pond or lake.

Feeding Behavior
Catfish are well known for being scavengers. They’ll eat just about anything they can find on the bottom of a pond. Their anatomy makes this task easy – they are negatively buoyant, which means that they generally sink rather than float thanks to a small gas bladder. Catfish also sport a flattened head that allows for easy digging through debris, a mouth that acts as a substrate suction and a body covered in taste buds.

To supplement the natural diet of the catfish in your pond, we recommend adding Pond Logic® EcoBoost™. It adds more than 80 trace minerals to the water, promoting the fishes’ health. We also suggest feeding Game Fish Grower Fish Food to ensure your catfish have enough food and to increase their overall size.

Ideal Environment
Channel catfish prefer warmer water (about 60° to 70°F) in areas with little or no currents. They thrive in small and large rivers, reservoirs, natural lakes and ponds. Channel cats are cavity nesters, meaning they lay their eggs in crevices, hollows or debris, to protect them from swift currents.

In your pond or lake, catfish won’t reproduce if they lack an adequate spawning structure. We suggest adding some fish habitat to help improve fishing conditions and provide an attractive habitat for catfish to spawn and grow.

Troubled Waters
Because these guys are bottom dwellers, they can stir up a lot of debris or clay. That will contribute to cloudy, murky water. Aeration can help. Airmax® Aeration Systems increase the oxygen in your pond, circulate the water, promote the colonization of beneficial aerobic bacteria and help maintain clear water.

Ultimately, your decision comes down to personal preference. Catfish are well suited for pond life. They have little effect on the predator-prey relationship in freshwater environments compared to predators like bass or prey like bluegills. Plus, they make for good fishing. What’s not to love about catfish!

Pond Talk: What are your top reasons for keeping catfish in your pond or lake?

Promotes Fish Health & Bacteria

14 Responses

  1. First you need to find out what is eating the fish. Raccoons at night or even preditors that live in the water and dig holes in your pond about 2 feet below the surface. There are traps for each. Good luck.

  2. I have a fish predators eating all my fish. I bought Japanese Koi and they did not last a day. Kids were very devastated any ideas

    • Hi Maina – I’m sorry to hear about the loss of your fish, especially since the kids were so excited. Without any evidence it is hard to say exactly what type of predator got the fish. Herons are out in full force right now but in smaller, shallow ponds there may be others. Anything you can do to provide hide spaces for the fish would be helpful. Caves, aquatic plants, etc. Here is an article also about protecting fish when plants are not available.

  3. Can I put a catfish in my pond in Pa where the water temp goes down to the low 40’s in the winter?

  4. I have a half acre lake on my property can I put cat fish in to help clean the bottom

    • Hi Brett – Catfish can be added and will feed off the bottom but should not be relied on a the sole maintenance tool in the pond. They would never be able to keep up with weed growth in an established pond.

  5. If they eat just about anything on the bottom, why do we have so much chara every year. We had 2 lines of airation for the past 6 years. This year we bought a new system with 3 lines this year. Now we see brown swirls of sediment on the shallow end of the pond. We shut off the old system today to see if we have too many lines for the pond size. Any suggestions? Still lots of chara floating around edges of pond. Yes we use your care package chemicals with the algicide, eco boost, pond clear, muck away, and coloring for 6 years.

    • Hi Gwen – Their diet may contain a variety of foods however that doesn’t mean they will be able to consume everything in the pond. I’m assuming the shallow end of the pond where you are seeing sediment in an area where one of the new aeration lines was added and that it is just beginning to mix up the accumulated debris, or it is the catfish rooting around in the shallow area of the pond. This should improve over time. I’m not sure how old your pond is but it takes years to accumulate sediment and debris and will equally take a long time to break it all down. Hang in there and the pond will continue to improve. Unfortunately algae, like chara, needs only a little food source and some sunlight to grow easily around the pond’s edge.

      • Thank you for the advise. Our pond is about 20 or more years. We bought the property and added the 1st airsystem 6 years ago and all pond guys products at that time . Last year was lots of raking the chara. We added the 2nd air system this year. We have less chara than ponds near us, but would love to have your pictures of none on the edges and no raking

      • Hi Gwen – Hang in there, at least you are seeing improvement. Just a word of caution since you mentioned raking the chara… Be sure to treat and kill the chara first, and then rake the dead chara out. Chara grows by fragmentation and if pieces of chara break off in the raking process they will still continue to grow. When raking dead chara, if anything breaks off and remains in the pond the natural bacteria will be able to help break it down.

  6. How do I clean large rock in pond that is looking green fron algae?

    • Hi James – You can use Oxy-Lift™ Defense® to lift debris off the rock. If it is fully submerged deeper in the pond you would either need to drain some water down or use an algaecide for treatment.

  7. My grand daughter loves to feed the fish and the catfish come to the top to eat. They are huge and a real crowd pleaser. Everyone loves them.

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