CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. —
The largest catfish in North America is the blue catfish. Connie Arthur, an aquarist at the Tennessee Aquarium explained that they grow to be between five and six feet long. Blue catfish can weigh well over 100 pounds.
"They are they largest so whenever you see a really big catfish that means it is really old, because catfish actually never stop growing," said Arthur. Catfish are well known for what look like whiskers, but are actually called barbels.
"There is a big myth saying that those whiskers will sting you -- absolutely not. They don't. They don't sting you. They use those for tasting actually," said Arthur. "A lot of times they are in very murky water so they might not be able to see their food. They can certainly taste it with those barbels so that's what they are doing is searching for food."
Blue catfish are omnivores and will each pretty much anything. These catfish also don't have scales so they are known to have "naked" or scale-less skin. Because they are so large, blue catfish do not have any enemies in the wild. This can occasionally pose a problem with population control.
"They can be a very invasive species. They were initially stocked in some lakes and since they eat everything -- fish, crawfish, and frogs -- sometimes they will eat too much of a native fish. So that's when they have to increase the fishing of the blue catfish," said Arthur.