Do you have a catfish pond? A pond with bass in it? If you’re looking to celebrate diversity by introducing other species of fish, you might be wondering “will bass eat catfish”? After all, you don’t want it to be a bloodbath with incompatible fish. Why can’t we all just get along?!
So, will bass eat a catfish if you put them in the same pond? Some, but not all bass eat catfish. It’s usually a size thing: if the bass is big enough and the catfish is small enough, there’s a high probability the bass will eat the catfish.
We’ve all heard of the food chain. We all know that on land there are animals that rank higher and will eat other animals. The same rules apply in the water world. Sharks are obvious predators that have no problem eating pretty much whatever they can get their mouths around.
Let’s break it down.
It is important to note that largemouth bass are hunters. You’re most likely to find the bass hunting during the day so that they are able to see and catch their prey. These fish use weeds and/or logs to lay in wait for their next meal. They quietly stalk their victim before lunging out with their mouths open wide to quite literally swallow their prey whole.
A bass has a cleverly camouflaged appearance that makes it easy to blend in with its environment. Typically they will be green and/or black on the tops and sides and white on the bottom. When viewed from the top, they easily blend in with moss, other underwater vegetation, or even the floor of the body of water. If they are viewed from the bottom, their white bellies simulate the sunlight shining through the water.
There are several species of catfish. Channel catfish are known as scavengers that hunt for food at the bottom of the body of water. They will use their barbels (also known as whiskers) as feelers to search for food.
Channel catfish will eat pretty much anything, but most often chow down on dead fish or other animal pieces that have made their way to the bottom.
Now that we have a little background information on each fish, what’s the real answer to the question? To reiterate, yes, a bass will absolutely eat a catfish, but it depends on the sizes of the fish involved.
To put things into perspective, the largest channel catfish ever caught in the U.S. weighed in at a monstrous 58 pounds. The record for the largest bass caught is a mere 22 pounds. As you can see, channel catfish can grow to be substantially larger than the bass.
There are exceptions of course.
A largemouth bass will happily make a meal out of baby catfish. Additionally, this fish will also take down an adult catfish provided it will fit in its mouth. So there you have it: if the bass is big enough and the catfish is small enough, there’s a good chance that the catfish will become dinner.
Can you have bass and catfish in the same pond?
You can absolutely have both bass and catfish co-existing together! However, it does take a little work to ensure a successful environment. The best step to start with is having the water from the pond you want to use tested to make sure the pond will provide the best environment for the fish and the food chain of the pond. You should verify the correct recommended pH levels with a professional before stocking your pond.
It can also be a good idea to fertilize your pond. Fertilization helps breed plankton and other small fish and insects that become part of the food chain in the pond. It is important to ensure that sufficient food is available.
You’ll want to wait about a year before adding any bass or catfish to the pond. This allows the water to be its best to give the fish their best chance. The catfish can be added at any time after the bass have been stocked. It is important to keep in mind that catfish may prey on the baitfish and cause a food shortage for the bass. You want to make sure you don’t end up with an overpopulation of catfish.
You can expect a fully functioning, quality fishing pond in about three years. All of that to say, as long as you follow the process, you can have both bass and catfish co-existing peacefully in your pond.
Should I put catfish in my bass pond?
So now that we know that you can in fact have both catfish and bass in the same pond, the next question is should you do it? It really is a matter of personal preference. You should only stock catfish in the pond if you plan to harvest the catfish at 2 pounds or larger. Keep in mind that larger catfish will prey on the baitfish and will reduce the food availability for the bass. A pond will only support so many catfish.
If the pond is smaller than a half acre, stocking largemouth bass and channel catfish is an excellent option. It will be easy to manage and you should come away with enough fish for a good fishing experience.
The ideal stocking numbers would be about 100 catfish fingerlings per surface acre. Because the growth of a catfish is based on space availability, if you stock more than 100, you may end up with much smaller catfish. For largemouth bass, you’ll want to stock at about 40 bass fingerlings per surface acre.
Will bass eat catfish fingerlings?
Yes! If the bass is bigger than the catfish fingerling, the bass will most definitely eat it. This can present a problem when deciding to stock a pond with both bass and catfish.
If you decide to stock the catfish and the bass at the same time, make sure that the channel catfish fingerlings are larger than the bass fingerlings. This prevents the bass from outgrowing the catfish too quickly and eating them.
Alternatively, if you are stocking bass and catfish fingerlings that are the same size, the channel catfish should be stocked somewhere between six to eight months before the bass. This way the catfish will have grown ahead of the bass and will be less likely to get eaten.
Recap: Do bass eat catfish?
In conclusion, yes, a bass will eat a catfish. However, there are many ways to ensure that the two species can live together in the same pond.
As long as you follow the process, you should have a thriving pond that is home to plenty of both catfish and bass!