The white catfish has a large head with a muscular body. Its white chin with four pairs of whisker-like barbels at the end help distinguish it from other catfish species. This fish has a body with a light bluish-gray color and a white underbelly. Its tail is moderately forked with rounded lobes at the end.


White catfish are omnivorous and have a broad appetite. Adults favor eating other fish but also consume crustaceans, insects and aquatic plants. Although white catfish are less nocturnal than other catfish species, they are still known to feed at night.


The white catfish is a favorite food source for predators such as ospreys and eagles.

Reproduction and Life Cycle

Spawning occurs nearby gravel or sand banks where the water is either still or flowing in the early summer. Ideal water temperatures range between 68-72 Fahrenheit. Fish nests are large and usually include several thousand eggs. Both parents tend to the eggs for about 6 to 7 days until the eggs finally hatch.

Males have been known to remain watching the baby fish or fry until they stop schooling and separate from one another. For white catfish, it takes 3 to 4 years to reach maturity and they have a life span of about 14 years.

Did You Know?

  • Catfish have many external taste buds located on their barbels.
  • White catfish are often referred to as “white bullheads.”

Sources and Additional Information