Celebrate National Catfish Day!

June 25th is National Catfish Day so we’re shining the spotlight on one of the most impressive creatures of the monster fish family. With its diverse make-up ranging from the walking catfish to the massive Mekong, the catfish class is full of unexpected surprises. There’s something in the water, and it’s a force to be reckoned with.

With close to 3,000 known species of catfish in the world, today we celebrate a famous few with the help of Monster Fish host, Zeb Hogan.

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Photograph by National Geographic Channels

1. The Trouble Maker:

Photograph by National Geographic Education

The walking catfish happens to be a major invasive species in the state of Florida. Native to Asia, this fish’s ability to survive in stagnant waters makes it a valuable source of food. However, this critter has taken over land because of two unusual adaptations: it can breathe air, allowing it to survive out of water, and it can use its spiny front fins to waddle from wetland to wetland.

Why did the catfish cross the road? The walking catfish often feeds in aquaculture ponds, “walking” from fish farm to farm farms, preying on its inhabitants and wreaking havoc on its structures.

2. The Massive Monster:

Photograph by Zeb Hogan

As one of the largest freshwater fish in the world, the Mekong giant catfish can reach almost 10 feet and 650 pounds. They live mainly in the lower half of the Mekong River in Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam. This fearsome fish has very low-set eyes and are silvery to dark grey on top and whitish to yellow on the bottom. The monstrous creature is more so a gentle giant, a toothless herbivore who lives off the plants and algae in the river.

However, today, over-fishing and habitat destruction has taken its toll as population numbers have dropped by some 95 percent over the past century and this critically endangered creature is on the brink of extinction. International efforts are underway to save the species but enforcement of fishing restrictions is challenging.

3. Your Average Joe:

Photograph by NGT

Blue catfish are the most common of the catfish family. They are found in large rivers in the channels of major river systems, like the Tennessee River. They move up and downstream as seasons and temperatures change. This particular kind is native to many of the rivers in southern and Midwestern United States.

Ready to see the big fish in action? Check out this video of Zeb Hogan catching some catfish:

Learn more about the biggest and baddest river giants on Monster Fish on Nat Geo WILD.