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What Is a Wels Catfish?

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  • Written By: Alex Paul
  • Edited By: Jacob Harkins
  • Last Modified Date: 17 October 2014
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The wels catfish — sometimes known as the sheatfish — is commonly found throughout Europe and in the Baltic Sea. It’s a relatively large type of catfish and is recognizable by its wide mouth and flat head that contains a large amount of teeth. The wels catfish usually inhabits warm and large bodies of water such as lakes although it can also be found in some rivers. Some wels catfish are kept as pets in fish ponds.

Catfish are a group of fish named after the whisker-like barbels that are used to locate food when in cloudy waters. Not all catfish have barbels, however, although the wels catfish has two particularly long ones on the top jaw. There are also four smaller barbels located on the lower jaw.

The color of a wels catfish varies depending on where it lives. For example, if the fish is living in murky water then it is likely to be a brown color. If the fish is living in clear water then it will probably be blacker. The maximum length of the fish is around 10 feet (approximately 3 meters) although this is only achieved in ideal living conditions. Typically, the fish will grow to around 4.5 feet long (1.3 meters).

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The diet of the wels catfish mainly includes worms, smaller fish and insects although some of the larger examples may also feed on mammals such as rats and mice. Some are even known to eat ducks. There are various reports of wels catfish attacking humans although these are unconfirmed. Due to the large size of some of the bigger sheatfish there is little doubt that they could attack humans successfully although it is not known whether the fish will knowingly attack such large prey.

Although the sheatfish can be eaten, it’s only attractive as food when the fish is young. This is due to the fact that after the fish grows beyond a certain size it becomes too fatty to eat. On a side note, the eggs of the Silurus glanis species are poisonous and hence shouldn’t be eaten under any circumstances.

The sheatfish is kept as both a pet and for food. The fish usually prefer to live in sheltered conditions although they come out to prey on other animals in open water. Its large mouth is often the most noticeable part of the fish when it is looking for food.

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