Catfish are the largest freshwater fish. Only representatives of the sturgeon family are larger than it (for example, beluga - up to 1.5 tons), but they are not purely freshwater. Sturgeons are anadromous fish that can live in both fresh water and salt water. Rumors about how much the largest catfish in the world weighs are different. According to the testimony of contemporaries, in the 18-19 centuries, when our rivers were much cleaner and there were fewer fishermen, these freshwater predators grew to enormous sizes - up to 400-500 kilograms and even more. But even now, sometimes real river monsters come across.
From the life of a river monster
Small catfish feed mainly on aquatic insects and their larvae. As they get older, they switch to molluscs and frogs. And adults, hardened catfish can eat large fish (even pikes), ducks inadvertently crouched to feed themselves, and occasionally attack humans. The last statement is not an idle "horror story": there are documented cases when the remains of previously missing children or women were found in the stomach of a caught catfish.
A large hungry catfish can drag to the bottom even a strong adult man who has inadvertently swam into the depths. And in the Khopersky reserve, local huntsmen witnessed how a catfish, emerging from the water, dragged a deer into the water that had come to drink - just like an African crocodile, which hunts land animals in this way! Of course, a catfish cannot swallow a deer whole, but it does not disdain carrion either. Having pulled the victim to a secluded place at the bottom of the river, he returns to her after a few days.
Within the CIS, catfish inhabit large bodies of water almost throughout the European part, with the exception of the northern regions. And in Asia - in the basin of the Aral Sea and Lake Balkhash. Despite the almost complete drying up of the Aral Sea, in the rivers feeding this sea - the Amu Darya and the Syr Darya - you can find rather large specimens. In other countries, the catfish lives in more southern latitudes, for example, in South and Southeast Asia.
And yet: who is the record holder?
Different sources have published different information about which catfish caught by a person is the largest. There is no unanimity even in the Guinness Book of Records. The obtained information can be seen in the following table:
|Mass, kg||Time of capture||River|
|347||19th century||Volga (Russia)|
Occasionally in the media there are reports about the capture of catfish heavier than 400 kilograms. True, the journalists are mainly based only on the words of the fishermen who allegedly caught such a river giant. But no one can provide not only documentary weighing results, but even a simple photo of a record-breaking catfish. Therefore, this information is better attributed to the category of fishing tales.
It is interesting that catfish take root well in a new place. In particular, two of the five large fish shown in the table were caught in the rivers of Spain and France. And these regions are not their natural habitat. In recent years, the rivers of Spain have often been mentioned as places where very large representatives of this family were caught. If this continues, it is possible that over time we will witness that the world's largest catfish will be caught in the Iberian Peninsula. It seems that life there pleased him very much..