View Full Version : Flathead Catfish advice?

08-02-2012, 11:56 PM
My boyfriend and I went to a large creek a few days ago and caught a baby flathead catfish. We took it home and now have an aquarium set up for it, but we are having trouble finding something that it will eat. It's no more then half an inch long. We've read that they will eat algea, shrimp pellets, small bugs and small fish, but so far it hasn't taken to anything we have been giving it (we havent tried small fish yet because petsmart doesn't carry any that are small enough). Any suggestions?

08-03-2012, 12:01 AM
Might seem a little harsh, but unless you fishless cycled that tank before adding that fish - youre definitely best off to return the fish to the wild, read about cycling, cycle, then catch another one and go from there.

If you've just added water, its only a matter of time until ammonia levels start hurting the little fella, especially considering he's a bottom dweller and probs a messy waste producer like most catfish.

If you don't wanna do the fishless cycling thing, you'll have to get an API Master test kit and do massive and frequent water changes to keep ammonia below .25ppm.

edit: oh yeah, not eating, could be he's still settling in, but as those ammonia/nitrite levels hit dangerous levels chances are he will be being slowly poisoned to death and will definitely not eat under such stress

08-03-2012, 12:01 AM
+1 to the above about cycling.

as for food, try frozen bloodworms for starters.

08-03-2012, 12:25 AM
Might seem a little harsh, but unless you fishless cycled that tank before adding that fish - youre definitely best off to return the fish to the wild, read about cycling, cycle, then catch another one and go from there
Ugh. No! Do not return the fish to the wild. Do I seriously need to start a thread to make into a "sticky"? It seems that the only times I ever write a posts it is about NOT returning wild-caught fish to the wild.

Okay, so you've got info about how to cycle, and how to take care of fish if you haven't cycled. Aside from the returning to the wild part, I do agree with everyone else. Wild caught fish take time to adjust and start taking food. Try frozen bloodworms as mentioned (should be perfect size for a cat that big).

Also, are you sure it is a flathead? Where (state / drainage) did you catch this fish? Flathead young of year (YOY) should be a bit bigger than that right now. I suspect you may have a species of madtom (Noturus sp), Madtoms look VERY similar to young flatheads (especially at 0.5''). If you get a chance, take a peak at the adipose fin. If the rear margin of the adipose is fused / continuous onto the the caudal fin, then you have a madtom. Madtoms make awesome aquarium catfish because they don't get very big (most are 3-5''). If the adipose is clearly separate, then you don't have a madtom.

Sorry for being long winded, but I love hearing about people catching and enjoying fish that occupy waters near their homes. It will be very hard to get a glimpse of the tail - I know. I actually have two speckled madtoms that I never saw for 4 months, and two snail bullheads that I saw once every 6 months, until they got so big they couldn't hide anymore. Anyway, try feeding a small amount of bloodworms right at lights out - it should do the trick. I am a firm believer in when a fish gets hungry enough, they will eat.

08-03-2012, 12:27 AM
Thank you both for the advice :)

I'm a beginner when it comes to aquariums (obviously) so I didn't know about fishless cycling before placing my fish in the tank. I read up on it and the website I found said that adding live plants will help with the ammonia levels. Is there a specific type of plant that will be best for my fish?

08-03-2012, 12:28 AM
Whats the reasoning behind being opposed to returning a recently wild caught fish back to the wild? Am i missing something? Are they a pest or something?

Returning to the wild seems like a sound alternative to torture

08-03-2012, 12:30 AM
Nah - plants wont do the trick at all. Theyll survive the cycling process but will do little to remove large amount of ammonia.

Best thing if you're gonna keep going with the Fish-in cycle is to do lots of big water changes.

And you'll definitely need a test kit, most people here would agree the API Master test kit is pretty reliable..

08-03-2012, 12:49 AM
Uncle Willie,
I do not intend on returning my fish to the wild, its quite a bit of a drive. I have been lead to believe it is a flathead based on the pictures I've seen online, its the only one similar. The next time it decides to come out of hiding I'll take a better look at his fin and let you know which one it is.

Half an inch was my guess at its size because like I said, it likes to hide and I can hardly get a look at it before it goes back. We caught it in a large swimming hole (about 50 yards and 20 feet deep) in a small creek in California.

08-03-2012, 12:56 AM
I also have a good sized pond in my back yard that is currently holding several koi and gold fish, and various water plants. Would it's chances be higher out there?

08-03-2012, 01:08 AM
yes, I would think that it would do better in the already-cycled pond.

Goes to 11!
08-03-2012, 01:52 AM
Whats the reasoning behind being opposed to returning a recently wild caught fish back to the wild? Am i missing something?

A. How about NOT returning any of the nastys [viral, bacterial or fungal] that are in the tank to the wild with the fish.

B. It may or may not be legal to take them in the first place and the same goes for re-releasing them.

Yes Willie, Apparently you do need to write it up.

08-13-2012, 05:43 PM
No sure about the pond bit. Koi and gold fish depending how big they are may try to eat the catfish depending if they can get it in to it's mouth without the spikes Harming it.

The only thing plants help with is removing nitrates from the water. Keep doing what you are soun and do plenty of water changes. There are additives you can put in the tank to help it cycle and yes the ones I use do work. The most common one is tetras safe start. The other Is Fritz Zyme 700. It's roughly $25 for a 4oz bottle. Pricey but worth it.

08-23-2012, 03:39 AM
post a pic?

10-08-2012, 03:06 AM
my other hobby is fishing,do you know how big flatties get, i catch them around 40 lbs all the time... they will take down a 2 foot koi, turtles, frogs, snakes.. it will be the only thing in the pond before it is over... trust me:help:

ps flatties get BIG if they can get to 70 + on there own in the wild, it will be huge in a non-threatened pond...

10-08-2012, 11:09 PM
Do not lesson to them when it comes to releasing. It was probably illegal anyway to keep a wild catfish for a tank unless you have a DNR fishing lisence.
There's far worse woes in nature right now then ANYTHING you could possibly put into the "wild" from a wild caught fish (just be sure to return where you found it) Asian carp for example are invading the great lakes.. Flat heads are native fish.

its better to release your fish. You obviously cannot care for such a large catfish, I'm asumming you don't want to or cannot shell out the millions of dollars it would take to have a tank big enough. and I think its best for everyone involved if the fish is either killed or more mericfly released. The river/creek has everything the catfish needs, millions of gallons of water, live food,ect,ect and if it gets eaten that's nature

You've already broke the law once ( assuming you do not have a Lisence) anyway.:scry:
As people have told you this isn't a fish to be kept in aquariums. They are better off in the wild.