how fast do catfish grow in a pond

How Fast do Catfish Grow (in a pond? in a tank?)

Whether you’re looking into getting catfish for your pond or your freshwater tank, you’re probably wondering how big they will get and how quickly. This is an understandable question because many of us have other marine life and costs to consider before purchasing new catfish.

How fast do catfish grow? Catfish reach sexual maturity at twelve months and are considered fully grown. In a pond, a baby catfish can grow to one pound in six months of regular feeding. In a tank, baby catfish will typically grow to a total of three pounds by twelve months old.

Read on to learn about exactly how fast catfish grow in tanks and ponds. As well, discover the difference between catfish reproduction processes in ponds and tanks. We also let you in on the basic needs of your catfish for both ponds and tanks!

Want your catfish to have buddies?

Learn which breeds of animals pair best in ponds and tanks with catfish. Can you swim in your pond with catfish? How soon is fishing considered appropriate? The end of the article addresses these questions and discusses proper pond and tank sizes for catfish.

How Fast Catfish Grow

In Ponds

Once fingerlings are placed in a pond, it takes about five months for them to get to a noticeable size. They reach one pound around six months old. Obviously, by twelve months they are fully grown. Catfish never stop truly growing though, in pond environments, some breeds of catfish are known to get rather large. Research breeds before making a catfish purchase, to ensure you get one that can fit in your environment well with growth.

In Tanks

Catfish can grow an inch a week when they are young, depending on the breed chosen. For freshwater tanks, most people have smaller breeds of catfish. So size isn’t as much of an issue as having multiples of the fish is. Once smaller breeds are fully grown at twelve months, they will be about three pounds. If space allows, they will keep growing. If it does not, they will stay rather small.

Catfish Reproduction

In Ponds

In a pond, catfish will not reproduce if they are lacking adequate structure. Catfish require a high-quality water source, proper oxygen, neutral PH levels, and nesting grounds for breeding. Keep the catfish plenty fed and make sure there are hiding areas in your pond, such as old tree stumps.

If you live in proper arrangments, most shouldn’t be a problem. If not, you may need to buy an aeration system, PH testing kits, and oxygen level testing kits, to be sure.

In Tanks

It’s best to invest in a breeding tank so that other fish will not have access to the eggs laid.  Once the fish lay and fertilize the eggs, take the parents out to prevent them from eating their own eggs. Food for baby fish is sold at the pet store, and once they are three months it is safe to integrate them into the general population tank.

Catfish Facts

Catfish are a diverse ground of ray-finned fish. In nature, catfish are not an aggressive species of fish. They are bottom feeders and tend to stay close to the floor of their water bodies. They feel around the water floor with their barbels to catch food. While their barbels do not sting, their fins can poke you and some catfish have venomous cells on their spines. Always beware before picking up a catfish, never touch its back.

Catfish Needs

In Ponds

  • At least eight feet deep with pond edges sloping quickly to three feet deep.  Three feet is the minimum depth, the entire pond should be this or deeper.
  • Full of aquatic plants such as fishbone water fern, iris flag, Japanese iris, Egyptian paper plant, umbrella grass, watercress, or water mint.
  • Warmer water 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit. They can survive winter temperatures through hibernation. Catfish will enter hibernation when temperatures reach 40-50 degrees.
  • Stones or gravel at bottom of the pond with mud underneath. This way food can get trapped in the stones for them.
  • Some type of aeration or filtration system.

In Tanks

Catfish require a minimum of at least a 10-gallon tank. You could have six dwarf species of cory catfish in a 10-gallon tank comfortably. For all other varieties or more than six fish, a 20-gallon tank is ideal.

The bottom of the tank should have smooth sand or gravel. The tank ideally should be kept at around 74 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. As well, you will need a good filtration system. Catfish are bottom dwellers but thrive with a small current. You can have other fish living in the tanks with them, just make sure it’s a fish breed that mingles well!


Any pond type of fish will usually mix well with catfish, especially for fishing purposes. Some breeds of fish actually make reproduction for catfish easier! Koi fish usually get bullied by catfish, so they are not always the best choice for their own sake.

You can also house turtles and frogs in your pond with your catfish, to make for an ultimate nature experience. Beware that during winter your creatures might not make it if you experience harsh winters.


Fish breeds that mingle well with catfish are cory’s, danios, gourami’s, guppies, loaches, mollies, platies, plecos, rasboras, swordtails, and tetras. Although these breeds of fish mix well together, they all thrive best with multiples of their own kind.  It is recommended to get at least four to six fish of each breed you want for the highest success of integration.

Pond Recreation With Catfish

Can you swim in your pond with catfish in it? Yes, you can! As long as you only put non-venomous breeds in such as channel catfish. Also as long as your pond is in good health and does not have any algae or bacterial issues. As for fishing, it’s really up to you! Catfish grow to a catchable size from four to six months. Continue to catch and release to watch your catfish grow HUGE!

Pond and Tank Sizes

For ponds, a good rule of thumb is to have 50-100 catfish per acre of the pond.  Other fish types are welcomed on top of this, as well. Ideally, your pond is about five to eight feet deep. Catfish also love ponds to have shallow edges, around 3 feet deep, but no shallower than that.

You could have six dwarf species of catfish in a 10-gallon tank comfortably. For all other varieties or more than six fish, a 20-gallon tank or more is ideal. Many catfish do very well in large aquariums. Make sure to load with plenty of vegetation, for catfish munching.

Conclusion: How Fast do Catfish Grow? (Growth and Care Instructions)

So, catfish grow rather quickly. At twelve months old they can begin reproducing and can continue to once a week if conditions stay right. Pond catfish usually grow to one pound within six months of regular feeding. They will continue to grow if space is applicable.

Tank catfish usually grow to three pounds by the time they are twelve months old or fully grown. Most dwarf species do not get very large, but if you have a larger breed the fish will stop growing if space doesn’t allow it. It’s important to have a large enough tank for your catfish to grow with extra room included.