Do Catfish Have Scales?

Do catfish have scales? No, catfish do not have scales. Some creatures breathe through their mucus-covered skin. Catfish have various forms of body armor, including bony plates called scutes.

Do Catfish Have Scales?

About Catfish

Scientific Classification

Name Catfish
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Class Actinopterygii
Order Siluriformes

Ray-finned fish such as catfish come in many varieties. In the wild, a wide variety of catfish species are named for the prominent barbels that resemble those of a cat’s whiskers.

Not all catfish have noticeable barbels or “whiskers,” as their name suggests. Skull and swimbladder characteristics distinguish Siluriformes from other taxa.

Others (such as the Auchenipteridae family of catfish) are crepuscular or diurnal (most Loricariidae or Callichthyidae, for example).


Many of the bigger species of catfish are farmed or fished for human consumption, making them a valuable economic resource. Many smaller species, notably the Corydoras genus, are significant to aquarium hobbyists. –

What is a Fish Scale?

An individual fish may be recognized by its scales, one of its most distinguishing characteristics. Plates that cover the entire body from head to tail are made of thin, flat, and overlapping plates. Scales defend the fish from predators and parasites, aid in movement through the water, and maintain the fish’s body temperature, among other functions.

Scales can vary in size, shape, and color depending on the type of fish. The scales of certain fish are so little that they can hardly be seen, whereas the scales of others can be several inches long. Throughout the fish’s life, its scales shed and grew again and over.

Why Do Fish Have Scales?

Defining what a fish scale is is the first step. It’s a hard, thin plate that develops on the fish’s skin. Scales cover the majority of fish species. Scales provide several advantages for fish, including:

Reasons Explanation
Camouflage When the fish’s scales have a reflective sheen, they can act as a camouflage against hungry predators, allowing them to sneak up on prey without being seen.
Parasite Protection Fish may be infected with external parasites like nearly every other living creature can. Some parasites are kept at bay thanks to the scales on their skin.
Hydrodynamic Advantage Skin coated with scales lowers friction between the fish and water, making it simpler for them to swim. This advantage hasn’t been well explored, and experts are still debating it.

What Is the Function of the Fish Scale?

An essential part in fish is its skin, which is made entirely or mostly of scales. A fish’s scales are one of its most distinguishing characteristics. They defend the fish from predators, parasites, and illness, among other things. Defense and prey capture are two more possible uses for fish scales in some species.

Are There Scales on Catfish?

Catfish do not have scales, even though this is a frequently asked subject. The majority of catfish species have bare, unprotected skin. Even the most seasoned angler can’t possibly know all catfish species around the globe. This is because just a few species are targeted by fishermen and have the unique catfish appearance that most of you envision catfish to look like.

The skin of some catfish species is coated with mucus, and this mucus serves as a respiratory part. Scutes are found on other catfish species. Bony plates known as scutes are minute in size. They come in many forms and sizes, like scales, and may be seen on various animals, including terrestrial animals.

The function of scutes and scales is the same, yet they differ in biology. It is in this layer of skin that the scutes are created. Callichthyidae, or armored catfish, is an example of a catfish with scutes. These aren’t likely to be encountered by anglers.

If you’ve ever wondered why catfish lack scales, I’ll do my best to explain it in a way that’s easy to understand. A creature’s bodily features evolved to allow it to live, consume, reproduce, and survive as a species.

Note: Some needed scales to survive and reproduce in harsh environments, but others didn’t since their bodies didn’t require them.

What Are Their Scales Made Of?

The mesoderm is where the scales are produced in the body. This suggests that the growth of scales is more similar to that of teeth or bones than scales seen on reptiles. The scales of reptiles are more like hair or feathers because they are formed in the epidermis.

There is blood flow in the scales because of the vascular bone core. Like teeth, this is protected from the elements by a thin coating of dentine or enamel. The outer layer of keratin is also found on certain scales. Nails and hair are made of this protein, also found in the skin.

In the microscope, Placoid scales seem like teeth, the sort that sharks and rays have. Enamel covers the dentine and bone core of cosmid scales, coated with enamel. Ganoid scales of gar, like placoid scales, have an enamel shell.


A peg and socket is also present between them. Trout and other bony fish have ctenoid scales, which lack an enamel layer. They are more pliable due to their keratin-coated exterior.

What Fish Do Not Have Scales?

Many fish species lack scales, including the following:

  • Jawless fish like lampreys and hagfishes

  • Many eel species

  • Many catfish species

  • Mandarinfish

  • Anglerfish

Tubercles cover the bodies of several of these animals, such as anglerfish. It is still a hard-formed “growth” on their skin, but it differs from a scale in that it is not the same.

Pipefish, for example, have exterior bone plates to defend them from predators. However, as seen in other species, these plates are not physiologically the same as scales.

Why Do Catfish Have No Scales?

Can you recall ever seeing a fish without scales? That is, until today. On the other hand, professional anglers who are well-versed in fish biology and the numerous species within it should not be surprised by this.

People who know nothing about fishing may be surprised to learn that fish don’t have scales because they don’t. Catfish don’t appear to have the jagged skins that other fish have; instead, they have a leather-like skin.

As a discerning reader, you are probably eager to learn the reasoning behind that. As a cautionary note, the cause is simple and doesn’t require a long science-backed explanation.

The bony plates called scutes are a type of body armor that may be seen throughout the catfish group. The same reason cats lack scales probably applies to other fish, such as sharks, clingfish, and others.

Keep in mind: These fish have developed uniquely from all the rest of the ocean’s creatures. Just like we humans entered the world with a pair of eyes, they entered it the same way.


Some related questions are given below:

1 - Can you eat fish scales?

Absolutely, along with some fish. When it comes to most fish, the issue is why you would want to. Salmon does not need to be scaled before it is cooked, and many chefs prefer getting the extra skin crispy and eating it. Scales may be removed after the salmon has been cooked. Ingestion of a few scales by accident won’t adversely affect you.

2 - Are there any catfish that have scales?

There are a few other species of fish without scales in the globe, in addition to those already listed, and the overwhelming majority of these fish belong to Siluriformes. These comprise a wide variety of species of catfish. Additional examples of fish that do not have scales include the following: Catfish with a red tail (Phractocephalus hemioliopterus)

3 - Is gravel safe to use while keeping cory catfish?

Corydoras can make a living on gravel, although it is not the best environment for them. We do not advise maintaining corydoras on gravel as their substrate. It is a bummer for people who have aquariums and choose gravel over sand since corydoras cannot flourish in gravel environments.

4 - Do trout have scales on their bodies?

Yes. Scales of varying sizes cover a trout’s body. If you rub their skin from the tail up, you will feel the scales, even though they appear to have practically no scales.

5 - Do tuna have scales?

Indeed, they do so! They are extremely minute, and, on most of the body, they are nearly unnoticeable. The scales on the head and chin are the ones that stand out the most.

6 - Can you name any fish that do not have scales?

Lampreys and hagfishes are two examples of jawless fish. Their skin is smooth, without scales, and they lack dermal bone. Lampreys have a strong leathery skin that provides them with some protection.

7 - Do salmon have scales?

Yes, at least until they have babies. Salmon have scales that are very much like those of trout. When salmon travel from salt water to freshwater to breed, their bodies digest their scales, causing them to have a leathery texture. Because spawning salmon do not consume food, this allows them to store energy.

8 - Have you ever seen a Cory catfish with scales?

They can locate food in the substrate because of the four sensitive barbells wrapped around their jaws. They are protected from harm by bone plates that serve as “armor,” despite the absence of scales on their bodies. These are arranged in two rows along the body of the corydoras.

9 - Do catfish have scales on their bodies?

No. Scales are absent from the body of a catfish. Although the majority have a thick covering of slime that lets them breathe through their skin, a few of the types also have bony plates called skutes. North America is often the region’s primary location for finding slimy catfish. Catfish with bony plates are often found in South American waters.

10 - Can catfish and corydoras be bred together?

It is possible to combine different species; when they do so, they frequently congregate together. Five of them are recommended to be purchased together to achieve the optimum effects. These catfish may occasionally dart to the surface to take large gulps of air there.


As an angler, you need to have a fundamental understanding of the species of fish you are targeting and catching. It is helpful to understand the factors contributing to the differences between the various kinds of fish. You should now know the answer to the issue of whether or not fish have scales.

Scales have two purposes: they protect the fish and allow it to blend into its environment. Those who lacked it adjusted themselves in some other fashion. Because catfish do not have traditional teeth, they cannot sting or seriously bite people.

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