The wels catfish is a freshwater fish, also known as sheatfish. Its body is elongated and often reaches remarkable lengths. Some specimens reach up to 16.5 ft (5 m), with their weight exceeding 551 lb (250 kg). The wels catfish can easily be distinguished from other species. Its slimy body is not covered in scales.
Its head is relatively large and flattened. This species has a wide mouth and well-defined lips. The eyes are not particularly large. They are found above the corners of the mouth. The emblematic trait of the catfish is its (barbels) whiskers. It has a pair above its upper lips, one on each side. Two more pairs of whiskers can be seen on the lower lips of fish, on both side of the mouth. They are shorter than the upper ones.
Another recognizable trait of this species is a fin located on its back. You'll identify a wels catfish by the green coloration of its body. Sometimes yellow nuances can be seen on it as well. Its back is dark grey and its stomach - white or light grey. Usually male specimens have a more interesting coloration of the body.
Wels Catfish Behavior
The wels catfish inhabits deep waters, in rivers that flow into the Black, Caspian and Baltic Sea.
The wels catfish is a carnivore. It hunts small fish, crabs, insects, frogs, mollusks. The larger specimens are even capable of swallowing pets. During the spring months, representatives of this species feed in the shallows of the water body they inhabit. When temperatures drop during the fall, wels catfish swim down to the bottom where they bury themselves in pits to get through the winter. Usually during this period, there are other representatives of the species in these shelters.
But during the rest of the year they are solitary. Once the shallows warm, it's time to release their roe. This process takes place among the shore's seaweeds in closed water bodies. Curiously, the males make something like a nest along the bottom, where they later protect the roe. The hatched fry are voracious eaters and begin developing quickly. They reach sexual maturity around age 3.
Wels Catfish Aquaculture
Wels catfish can be bred artificially as well. The artificial rearing of this species is in great part due to the fact that in the past few years, its population in the wild has dropped. Since the wels catfish is a carnivore, experts advise breeding it in water bodies where it will not hinder smaller fish with its supremacy.
Catching Wels Catfish
Experienced fishermen recommend using pieces of press cake and maize. But perhaps the most alluring bait is pieces of older liver. Frogs, snails and large worms are also used by fishermen.
If you use larger insects, you will also have success. At the break of dawn and in the evening, the wels catfish hunts in the upper layers of the water body. The hooks you intend to use need to be tough and able to handle the fish as it flops around. Wels catfish can be caught from the shore. Larger fish can be caught further out in the water body using a boat. The catch is then dragged to shore.
Composition of Wels Catfish
The raw meat of the wels catfish is a source of a whole bunch of prized substances. It contains vitamins А, С, Е, К and D, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, magnesium, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, copper, sodium and others.
Culinary Use of Wels Catfish
The wels catfish has incredible culinary properties. It is used gladly by chefs since its meat is tender, fatty and very appetizing. After heat treatment it gains a white color and is easy to cut. Another positive aspect to this fish is that it doesn't need have too many bones that need cleaning. According to chefs, the most delicious part is the region around the head of the wels catfish.
When preparing wels catfish, sometimes the layer of fat needs to be removed - it can be over 3/4″ (2 cm) thick. The wels catfish can take all kinds of heat treatment, which is why it is used in a wide array of recipes. The whiskered fish is eaten by residents of the US, Malaysia, India, Hungary, which even have their own specific ways of serving catfish.
It can be oven roasted or grilled, even boiled in a pot. The fish is seasoned with lemon juice, garlic, black pepper, oregano, dill, parsley, thyme and others. Over the years, the appetizing fish has turned into a key ingredient of delicious baked dishes, salads, soups, pâtés. Wels catfish go excellently with vegetable garnishes and spicy sauces, the end result is irresistible.
Choosing and Storing Wels Catfish
When choosing a wels catfish, just follow a few simple rules. The meat must not be elastic and sticky. If it's a whole fish, look at its eyes. If they are clear, it means it's fresh. But if they are murky, there is a high chance that it's old. Fresh fish can be stored unsalted in the fridge for a time. Wash and dry it, then wrap it in foil. Still, it shouldn't be left like that more than 2 days.
Benefits of Wels Catfish
As is known, the consumption of fish is crucially important for the body. The healthy components found in the wels catfish make it an important part of our menu. Among the benefits of this type of fish is its oily meat, containing proteins and fats, a vital source of energy. At the same time, the meat of the fish is easily digestible, which is of import to people who lead a sedentary way of life and aren't as active.
Women simply must consume this type of fish, since it is proven that it has a positive effect on skin and hair. Additionally, it helps the nervous and digestive systems and regulates blood sugar levels. In the past, the wels catfish was eaten as a way to fight colds.