12 Catfish Whiskers Facts

What are Catfish and Carps? What are their Features? Do they have Whiskers? What are Whiskers for? What type of Sound do they Make? Which other Fish have Whiskers?
Catfish Whiskers

There are thousands of fish species in the oceans. These fishes belong to different types of water and have different terrestrial habitats. Catfish is one of the fish species that is famous for seafood. Because of the name, many people wonder about catfish whiskers. I think you are also thinking the same about cat fish whiskers. So let us today find out about them and whisker seeker catfish and carp. 

1. What are Catfish?

Catfish are large fish among the species of ray-finned fish which belonged to the Siluriformes order. Catfish are related to carps, minnows, and characins. They are found in all the water bodies of the world except Antarctica. The members of this order are famous for their skull and swim bladder which is an internal organ filled with gas that lets the bony fish control their buoyancy. (See What is Blobfish or Psychrolutes marcidus?)

2. What are Carps?

Red-white and yellow-white carps inside a ying-yang.: catfish whiskers 1

Carps are oily freshwater fish native to Asia and Europe. Both catfish and carp belong to the same order that is the Siluriformes. All these form a superorder Ostariophysi. There are more than half a dozen species of carps. They also have a swim bladder which almost serves the same purpose as it has in catfish and there are no scales found on their body. While some scientists claim their swim bladder is associated with the perception of sound. They have scaly skin and some species can even survive without water (under ice, stagnant water, or muddy water) for a few months. (See How Do Fish Sleep with Their Eyes Open?)

3. What do you Know about Catfish Whiskers?

Green colored catfsh.

Mammals or snouted animals have long projecting hair growing from their face. It is like one of their sense organs. Cats, dogs, beavers, platypus, etc., have them. Catfish are known for their whiskers, but in fact, they are not whiskers. The floating whisker-like thing that they have is actually pieces of special skin that are shaped in the form of a whisker. They are known as barbels and you must not know that every catfish has whiskers. These organs are necessary for them to eat their food at the bottom of the oceans. (See How to Evade a Shark Attack?)

4. What are Barbels?

The term barbel is derived from the middle Latin word barbula, which means little beard. Barbels are the taste buds that help them search for food in deep-dark water. The concentration of taste buds in these barbels differs from species to species. Barbels can be located in different places on the head of a fish. The barbels, like that of a catfish, are located on either side of the mouth and are known as maxillary barbels. Barbels can also be nasal that extend from the nostrils. The mandibular or mental barbels are also seen, and they are located on the chin of the fish. 

A catfish may have about 4 pairs of barbel nasal (1 pair), maxillary (1 pair), and mandibular (mental) barbels (2 pairs). The barbels are always found in pairs. Whereas carps have 1 pair of maxillary barbels which serve the same purpose as that of the catfish whiskers. (See Why are the Bottlenose Dolphins becoming endangered?)

5. How do Whiskers grow again?

The whiskers may fall off, but for some reason, will grow again. Various factors are responsible for the time taken for whiskers to re-grow. The age of the catfish, nutrition derived from their food, and the water quality are the factors affecting the re-growth of their barbels. But damaged whiskers do not grow to the same size as they were before. (Also read How Fast Are Crocodiles on Land?)

6. How Big are the Cat Fish Whiskers and Carp?

The average size of the catfish can be between 1.2 m to 1.6 m (3.9 to 5.2 feet). A fish more than 2 m in length is rarely found, but there are cases where much longer catfish have been caught. Their average weight can be different depending upon their species and habitat.

A common carp can be 40 cm to 80 cm (15.75-31.5 inches) long. Their weight ranges from 2 kilograms to 14 kilograms (4.3 to 31 lb.). (See 21 Healthiest Fish for Fishetarians)

7. Which Water is favorable for Whisker Seeker Catfish and Carp?

Catfish are capable of surviving in brackish water, salt water, and freshwater. Depending on their species and habitat, they can prefer stagnant water with fast-moving currents.

Carps, on the other hand, can survive only in freshwater. Some species may move to salty or brackish water for some time but soon return to freshwater. The only species of carps that can tolerate saltwater is Tribolodon (genus- cyprinid). (See 45 Types of Fish)

8. How Long do they Live?

A bunch of carps.

The life span of catfish whiskers depends on their behavior, fights, or any such situations. The life span of catfish varies from species to species. On average, a catfish can live from 5 years to 30 years.

Carps can live for up to 20 to 40 years depending upon their species. Other factors influencing their life span are habitat, safety in their natural areas, food, captivity, and the level of water pollution. (See What Animal has the Longest Pregnancy?)

9. Are Catfish Whiskers Dangerous to Humans?

a person holding a Small sized catfish

It is possible to touch the barbels because they are harmless. Barbels do not have any toxins, and you are at no risk if you intentionally or unintentionally come in contact with these barbels.

Among the various species of catfish, a major part of their population is not dangerous to humans. Striped Eel Catfish have stings embedded behind their fins. Though these stings are non-venomous, in rare cases, people have died due to these stings. (See How Do Porcupines Attack?)

10. What Sounds do they make?

Catfish have the ability to make different sounds and understand different pitches and velocities. The sounds produced by them are categorized into two groups, drumming and stridulation sounds. Their pectoral fins are not a part of catfish whiskers, but they produce sounds.
Carps produce sounds by oscillating their swim bladder and rubbing the bones (the point where fins are attached to the body). The sound produced is similar to that made by crickets. (See What Is the Real Sound That a Fox Make?)

11. What is Aquaculture?

The process of breeding, harvesting, and raising fish, aquatic animals, and shellfish is known as aquaculture. In simple words, it is farming on water. Catfish are known to serve various purposes like food, ornaments, research animals, and sports fishing. Carps are also used as food and research animals. So this process is essential for their healthy growth under the water. (See Who is the Fastest Swimmer?)

12. What Other Fish have Whiskers?

Yellow black fish with barbels.

This sensory organ, barbel, is present in other fish also apart from catfish whiskers and carp and they are,

  • Hagfish, goatfish,
  • Black dragonfish,
  • Zebrafish,
  • Sawfish (a species of shark) 

So, now you know about catfish whiskers and whisker seeker catfish and carp. Spread this knowledge about cat fish whiskers and share with us your feedback about your experiences with these fish. (See What Are Shark Teeth Made Of?)

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