Catfish: Main Image

Buying Tips

Quality catfish is easy to recognize. Fresh catfish never smells fishy; it smells fresh, like clean river water. The eyes should appear bright and clear, almost alive. The gills should be clean; be sure to remove the skin before cooking. Fresh catfish flesh will give slightly when you press it with a finger, then spring back into shape. When choosing catfish steaks or fillets, whether they’re fresh or previously frozen, look for moist, translucent (never dried out) flesh.


There are more than 2,000 species of catfish, but most on the market are the native channel catfish. Wild fish are also sometimes available. Catfish are available live, fresh or frozen, whole or filleted, or in “nuggets” of meat cut from the belly.

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The information presented in the Food Guide is for informational purposes only and was created by a team of US–registered dietitians and food experts. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements, making dietary changes, or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires December 2024.