do catfish have bones

Do Catfish Have Bones? (or boneless)

We have all seen fish bones before, whether it be while walking on the beach or while eating a piece of walleye. I know most of us have probably wondered, “are these really bones?”. Well, there are two types of skeletal structures for fish. Bony fish, and cartilaginous fish, bony fish obviously have bones and cartilaginous have completely cartilage skeletal structures.

Do catfish have bones? Yes, catfish have bones. They have a main long bone similar to a spine, and smaller offshoots of bones that resemble ribs. Catfish have thick, dense bone structures. They are a perfect example of the saying “big-boned”.

Read on to learn about the different catfish bones, what to do if you swallow a fishbone, how to de-bone a catfish after you catch it with a reel, what to do with leftover fish bones, and more about fishbones as fossils, in art, symbolism, culture, and society.

Catfish Bones

are catfish boneless

The main bone in a catfish is located in the upper part of the catfish’s body. The smaller bones are connected to the main bone on both sides of the body. Catfish have ridged spines, so they can shift back and forth perfectly for swimming.

Some catfish are also known for having boney plates around their bodies, that serve as body protection for their internal organs. Not all catfish breeds have this extra protection, but most of the smaller dwarf breeds do.

Can You Eat Catfish Bones?

It is not recommended to try and eat a catfish bone straight. Our teeth are not strong enough to break up these bones, and they won’t taste or feel good trying. Our digestion systems can also not digest these dense bones, so if anything it could cause an impactment. Leftover catfish bones can be used for other things, but not for direct consumption.

What To Do If You Swallow a Fish Bone

If you swallow a fishbone and feel fine, you do not need to do anything. If you feel pain, you might’ve been scratched by the bone. Sometimes a scratch can make it feel like something is stuck in your throat when there is not. Overall, scratches will generally not need looking at. Most of the time, a small bone will not cause a bowel impactment. But make sure to have your throat and or stomach examined if you feel ongoing serious discomfort or pain.

How To De-bone a Catfish

You will need to retrieve a catfish for this part. You can buy them dressed in all kinds of different ways, some even come de-boned for you. If you get one that’s not, you need to follow these steps. First, make sure your catfish has its fins and skin removed. Then, you need to remove the head and interior organs from the catfish. The easiest way to debone a catfish is to cut in filets, because you can cut directly around the bone.

You can use leftover pieces of meat as bait, for stocks and soups, for tender nuggets, in gumbo or in any other mix of seafood dishes.

What to Do With Leftover Fish Bones

You can use leftover fish bones to make seafood bone stock, in soups, gumbo, and it can also be used to make garden or plant fertilizers. You can also use meat scraps as bait for future catching of fish. Different types of house animals also enjoy knawling on fish bones as snacks or treats, such as dogs and cats.

Does Fried Catfish Have Bones?

Typically, when prepared for cooking, catfish filets and nuggets are completely de-boned. Catfish can be cooked with their bones, but it may just be a splintery hassle to eat around them. They don’t provide much more flavor to the meat as beef does.

Are There Any Fish With No Bones?

Cartilaginous fish technically have no bones. These fish are structured completed with cartilage. Types of cartilaginous fish include; sharks, skates, stingrays, chimeras, and sawfishes. Cartilaginous fish are viewed as important parts of any ecosystem because they are oftentimes top predators.

Fishbones as Fossils

Fishbones have often been at the center for archilogical research and study. Fossils are often all that are left behind of Earth’s history, and we can study through fishbones what the earth looked like thousands to millions of years ago.  Fishbones are some of the most abundant types of fossils we have.

Fishbones also help researchers study breed sizes and how they have changed over the years. Fishbones have been found of fish that are larger than any fish we’ve seen today. Also, extinct types of fish that looked more similarly to dinosaurs.

Fish Bones

Fishbones are used in plenty of different ways in various cultures and societies. They can symbolize different things in literature and art. Images of fishbones can be associated with luck, faith, and religious stories.

Also, fishbones were the first types of sculpture and utensils. Before modern ages, people would carve fishbones in utensils to use for eating. Fishbones could also be carved to use as knifes or weapons for protection and hunting. Fishbone sculpture is some of the first known types of recorded art in history.


Fishbones and images of fishbones can symbolize fertility, feelings, creativity, good luck, rebirth, transformation, health, abundance, serenity, intelligence, prosperity, union, happiness, strength, and endurance. It is known for being associated with the water element, obviously because of fish living in the water.

You will find images, diagrams, sculptures and fossils of fishbones everywhere you look, once you are really looking. Fishbone images can be seen in tattoos, on wall decor, in stores and on informational diagrams. Also, in the spiritual realm “lucky” fishbones are often sold on decor and merchandise such as keychains.

Fish Bone Art

Collections of art centered around fishbones are vast on Etsy and other local market websites. Many have created fishbone wall decorations,  keychains, wishing bones, sculptures, and paintings of fishbones. Those who favor outdoor, native, or natural themes tend to use fishbones in their art pieces. Local farmers markets or world market is another great place to discover fish bone art.

There is also a long history of fishbone art in Native American and early human history. Along with bones of other animals, early humans would sculpt figures of different significances. Meaning, they would symbolize or bring different things to the person who was gifted the sculpture. Whether it be luck, fertility, abundance or happiness.

Conclusion – Do Catfish Have Bones…or are they Spineless?

In conclusion, catfish do have bones all throughout their body. They have a main spinal bone and smaller rib bones on reach side of the spinal bone. Catfish are known for having thick and dense bone structures. Some catfish also have boney plates protecting their body. Catfish bones are not edible or digestible and should not be consumed. Although, you can use them to infuse various stocks and soups.

If you swallow a catfish bone, it usually is no big deal. If you feel extreme pain, seek medical attention. If not, then it will pass naturally with time. Most of the time, catfish is deboned before it is prepared for consumption. Cartilaginous fish are fish that contain no bones. These types of fish have skeletal structures made completely of cartilage.

Fishbone fossils have been researched for years to study history and evolution by archiolgists. Fishbone sculptures are some of the first ever recorded art in Human history. Collections of fishbone themed art are very popular among online marketplaces and farmers markets or boutiques.