Happy Catfish Day!
You probably already know that we’re pretty big fans of freshwater catfish, they did make it onto our list of the best fish to stock in your dam after all. But, since today is Catfish Day, we figured we’d break it down and give you a bit of a better insight into why we think they’re so wonderful. Below you’ll find answers to the top three questions we get asked about these little guys:
What’s so great about the Tandanus tandanus?
Firstly, they’re natives. Almost all catfish help keep your water body clean and balanced but native species also help the wider environment. Tandanus tandanus hail from the Murray Darling Basin which makes them particularly good for areas near the waterway but they can thrive in almost any water body that doesn’t have a swift flow. This is particularly important when we consider how quickly our native species, including these little guys, have been disappearing with the MDBC stating that “Most riverine populations have declined significantly since the late 1970s/early 1980s, and the species is no longer common in many areas where it was formerly abundant.”
Secondly, they’re incredibly versatile creatures. Freshwater catfish can survive in almost any temperature and since they’re able to essentially choose how big they grow depending on their environment, almost any size water body can present a good home for them as long as any currents are gentle. This is one of the reasons why they make ideal dam fish. Another reason, is that they are one of the few native species that can actually successfully colonise a water body like a private dam. This makes the eel-tailed catfish perfect for those who are looking for low maintenance dam stock and means that you can easily start off small and work your way up to larger quantities. This is also great from a conservation point of view because they will generally be far safer in your dam than in an open waterway.
Please Note: If you want your fish to breed as soon as they’re settled into your dam, you will need to ensure that your new friends are at least three years old and that there are plenty of pebbles for them to turn into a nest.
But how can they help my ecosystem?
Because freshwater catfish are considered as being medium to large bottom dwellers and don’t tend to move about much, some people write them off as pointless additions, but this simply isn’t true. Tandanus are scavengers by nature and will quite happily find their own feed if you’re not in the business of regularly feeding your dam fish. This is great for you because it takes a lot of the stress out of stocking fish, but also fabulous for your aquatic ecosystem as your new catfish will essentially sweep the bottom of your dam. This can help reduce nutrient load in your water as the debris and organic matter that end up down the bottom of your water body won’t have as many chances to turn into sludge. By reducing this risk, you also lower the risk of outbreaks of algae and other nasties. Over time, this improves your overall water quality and creates a cycle of positive changes.
Ok, but are they good for anything else?
For those of you chasing multi-faceted wonder fish, the Tandanus are out here in a league of their own.
These guys are pretty good fishing and, although we understand you may be a little sceptical of this bit, are known as being exceptional for eating. This means relaxing afternoons with your rod by the dam and fresh fish on tap are actually quite achievable goals as long as your dam is big enough.
Things to know when fishing or eating:
- If your dam water isn’t the cleanest, you may want to “flush” your catches in a tank or other container for a few days before eating to avoid any chance of “muddy” tasting fish. We’ve never had this happen personally, and it shouldn’t be a health concern but we just thought we’d share as we’ve heard that others prefer their catfish prepared this way,
- Please be careful when handling your new friends (or food) as they have a spine at the fin behind their head which may cause injury.
Bonus Question: Are they good with other fish?
While your freshwater catfish will be quite happy to share their new home with other species, it is advised that they are kept with larger friends such as silver or golden perch. They don’t mean to be aggressive to smaller varieties but, like with most catfish, if these guys can fit something in their mouth, they’re probably going to see how it tastes.
So there you have it, that’s why we think the Tandanus tandanus is such a great fish. Let us know your thoughts in the comments and please remember to check your local regulations before stocking any new types of fish in your dam.