How long do they live? The oldest known Wels catfish was 80 years old [1]. They can likely live longer than that depending on if they can avoid being ate.

Where are they found? All throughout Europe and Asia [2]. Refer to figure 1.

Figure 1. Where you can find Wels catfish.

What do they eat? Wels catfish eat smaller fish, frogs, snakes, and many other vertebrates [3].

What do they look like? They can get rather large. The maximum length and weight recorded for a Wels catfish is over 5 feet and 484 pounds respectively [3]. Refer to figures 2, 3, and 4 to see what this giant looks like.

Figure 2. Wels catfish face.
Figure 3. Wels catfish looking like a catfish.
Figure 4. No seriously, every catfish that I’ve seen looks like this, except Sail catfish, which now has me curious about the lifespan of the catfish in Florida.

How do they reproduce? This will be one of the more unique sections of all the species so far. Males and females reach sexual maturity around 3 to 4 years of age and they reproduce by spawning [3]. There’s no information about reproductive senescence, but that’s not the interesting part.  Males will create nests for the females to lay her eggs in. Once the eggs are laid, the male will protect the eggs until they hatch [3]. Mind blown.

How do scientists know how old they are? Size to age estimates are commonly used and some groups have looked at otolith rings.

So what are we lacking?  Although the complete mitochondrial genome of Silurus glanis is available through the NCBI website, there’s no information regarding the nuclear genome of this great fish. Reproductive senescence is another big question mark, along with some age verification data. 

Conservation status: Least concern, although habitat destruction and over fishing may alter that status soon.

Please contact me if you would like to contribute knowledge about this species.

  1. Page, Lawrence M. “Handbook of European Freshwater Fishes.” Copeia2008.3 (2008): 725-727.
  2. Wels Catfish. Accessed 11/9/2016.
  3. Animal Diversity Web. Silurus glanisAccessed 11/9/2016.