how fast do flathead catfish grow

How Fast do Flathead Catfish Grow?

The flathead catfish is among one of the three most abundant breeds of catfish in North America. Whether you’re interested in getting flatheads for your pond, or if you’re interested in fishing for them, flatheads are arguably the best breed of catfish to exist.

How fast do flathead catfish grow? Flathead catfish reach sexual maturity or adulthood around four to five years old. Flatheads can live a total of twenty-four years.

Read on to learn more about flathead catfish, their reproduction cycles, and the correlations between their age and size. Also, discover flathead catfish ideal living conditions, pond requirements, catfish pond mates, flathead catfish fishing, and the ideal catfish cooking procedures!

What Is A Flathead Catfish?

A flathead catfish is an abundant breed of American catfish. Many are subject to sport fishing, Flathead catfish have been seen to get up to as large as sixty-one inches long and 123 pounds in weight.

flathead catfish growth rate

Naturally originating from basin inner-state rivers, flathead catfish have journeyed into lakes, ponds, rivers, channels, and oceans. They are the third-largest breed of catfish in the world, and arguably the best tasting catfish of all breeds.

Flatheads and all other catfish breeds have non-poisonous barbels or whiskers to help them smell and taste food around them. This is helpful because catfish typically cant see in the dark and murky waters they live in.


Flathead catfish reproduce through spawning. Spawning is the process of laying and fertilizing eggs. Typically, spawning for flatheads occurs once a year in late June, early July. Once the female lays the eggs, they are fertilized by the male catfish. Males build the nests before the eggs are born, and protect the eggs during incubation and hatching.

Incubation and Hatching

The size of the nest made for the eggs by the male catfish is dependent on the size of the female catfish. Nests are built for an adequate among of eggs to be laid comparative to the mother’s size. Once eggs are fertilized, they usually incubate for six to nine days. Once hatching, the babies or “frys” form large schools until eventually separating weeks later.

Age of Sexual Maturity

Before sexual maturity, catfish babies are considered juveniles at this point. Flathead catfish reach sexual maturity at around four to five years old and become adults. It is typical for males to reach maturity quicker, around four or five, while females can reach maturity anywhere between five and ten years old.

Correlations Between Size and Age

Flathead catfish can weigh anywhere from two to three pounds at around a year old. These catfish can get incredibly large throughout their lives. At twenty-five pounds, a flathead catfish has to be around seven to eight years old. The largest flathead catfish ever caught was one hundred and sixty-one pounds. This catfish would’ve had to of been over fifty to sixty years old, if not more!

Flathead Catfish Ideal Living

The natural habitat for flathead catfish is typically rivers, lakes, ponds, creeks, and channels. Flathead catfish will never travel into fully ocean water but will experiment with brackish water. These catfish typically enjoy waters that stay at temperatures around 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

Flathead catfish are bottom-feeders and will thrive in an environment with lots of vegetation, smaller fish, crustaceans, or shrimp. The floor of the water should be covered in mud or gravel, for the catfish to rummage through while hunting.

Flathead Catfish Pond Requirments

The most ideal requirements for a catfish pond are;

  • 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.

Fish Breeds That Do Well With Flathead Catfish

Fish breeds that mingle well with catfish are danios, gourami‚Äôs, 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.

You can also house turtles and frogs in your pond with your catfish, to make for an ultimate nature experience. Beware that koi fish and catfish typically don’t mix well together, because the catfish bully the koi’s and take their food.

Flathead Fishing

Flathead catfish prefer live prey over anything, so live bait will always be the best option for this breed. Flathead enjoys hanging out in deeply covered areas with a small current, so these will be the best locations to fish for them. The best time to catch flatheads is right before winter and during their breeding season. Catfish are nocturnal, so you’re always more likely to catch them during the night.

Can You Eat Flathead Catfish?

Yes, you can eat flathead catfish! Flatheads are actually known to be the best-tasting catfish breed you can eat. Because flatheads mainly eat live prey and smaller fish, their meat is more muscular and flavorful. Other breeds of catfish taste more gamey and muddy. Flatheads are some of the best types of catfish you can find for consumption purposes.

Catfish is typically best prepared pan-fried or deep-fried. Catfish will usually be served with coleslaw, hush puppies, and french fries.

Do Flathead Catfish Stop Growing?

Catfish in general never stop growing. The largest freshwater fish ever to be recorded caught was actually a catfish, in Thailand. Growth, in general, will slow down as the catfish grows old, but their size will keep expanding. The older the catfish gets, the more the catfish will weigh in pounds. Protein is the key material in catfish growing larger, flathead catfish grow so much more compared to other breeds due to their high consumption of live prey.

Conclusion: Flathead Catfish Growth

Flathead catfish reach sexual maturity at around four to five years old. Flathead catfish can typically live up to around twenty-four years,  but never stop growing in size. The older the catfish gets, the larger in size it will get. Flathead catfish reproduce through spawning, which is the laying and fertilizing of eggs. Male catfish are the ones responsible for creating the next and protecting the eggs until hatching.

Flathead catfish’s ideal living conditions are freshwater at a temperature between 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit with a plentiful supply of live prey food. Flatheads can live in ponds, given the right environmental factors. There are plenty of other breeds of fish and animals that can be in a pond environment with flathead catfish. Flathead catfish will prefer live bait over anything else and are easiest caught at night time.

Flathead catfish are the best catfish to eat and taste best pan or deep-fried. It is most popular for its flavor and lack of gamey texture like other catfish breeds. Flathead catfish lack this gamey texture due to their love for live prey.