European catfish | European Tracking Network

European catfish

Silurus glanis

European catfish (Silurus glanis)

Image: Bernardo Quintella ©


Species description and status: The European catfish is the largest freshwater predator in the European rivers and has an extensive geographical range (Figure 1). It is present in the western and southern parts of Europe where is considered as invasive species with negative effect on native fish species1. In its native area its highest abundance is in the Danube and Volga river basins. Catfish is nocturnal predator, larvae and juveniles are feeding on invertebrates and fish. Adults prey on fish and other aquatic vertebrates. The first sexual maturity catfish attain at 2-3 years of age. European catfish in Danube River starts spawning during the April and May when the water reaches temperatures of 18 to 20 °C2. Anthropogenic changes in the river section near hydropower plant could create very good conditions for European catfish withspecific artificial resting places and high food availability3.

The first telemetry study of catfish was performed in the reservoir of the River Ebro in 20074.  Subsequently telemetric investigations have been performed in water bodies where European catfish is a native species (Czech Republic, Netherlands) and in France and Spain where it is a non-native species using radio and acoustic tracking1, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8. These investigations included juvenile and adult catfish with maximum weight of 16.16 kg4.

Adult catfish tracking with the use of depth and temperature sensors was performed on catfish (total length 2m, weight approx. 80 kg) in the vicinity of Iron Gate II on the Danube River9.

Knowledge gaps:

  • The degree of seasonal mobility for European catfish still is unknown even in its native area.
  • There is lack of data concerning upstream spawning migration especially in large rivers.
  • There is a need to conduct telemetry investigations of catfish in European water especially in large rivers over prolonged periods which will include also extreme weather conditions to reveal specific behavior under these conditions.
  • Preference in water depth during annual cycle.
  • How European catfish is adapted in high peaking rivers
  • The rate and patterns of dispersion when introduced in a new system

Regions of interest:  Even catfish has the highest abundance in large rivers, there were no telemetry studies of European catfish in the Danube River. Some investigation started in regions where it is not native species, like in River Tagus (Portugal), and that could be continued.

Telemetry tools: Radio, acoustic and transponder tags were used for telemetric investigation of this species. Additionally, acoustic tags with sensors for depth and temperature were used.

Benefits: The ETN present opportunity to compare behavior of catfish in different regions where it is native or non-native species.

Contacts: Mirjana Lenhardt (, Marija Smederevac-Lalić (, Sladjana Spasić (


1 Danek T, Kalous L, Petryl M, Horky P (2014) Move or die: change in European catfish (Silurus glanis L.) behaviour caused by oxygen deficiency. Knowl Manag Aquat Ec 414:08 DOI: 10.1051/kmae/2014020

2 Antipa G (1909) Ichthyological Fauna of Romania (in Romanian). Institutul De Arte Grafice “Carol Göbl”Bucuresti, pp 93-98.Bănărescu P.  (1964). Fauna Republicii Populare Romîne. Editura Academiei Republicii Populare Române, București Volumul XIII. Pisces - Osteichthyes (peștiganoizișiosisi) [in Romanian] pp.547-551

3 Breve NWP, Verspui R, de Laak GAJ, Bendall B, Breukelaar AW, Spierts ILY (2014) Explicit site fidelity of European catfish (Silurus glanis, L., 1758) to man-made habitat in the River Meuse, Netherlands. J Appl Ichthyol 30: 472-478 doi:10.1111/jai.12410

4Carol J, Zamora L, Garcia-Berthou E (2007) Preliminary telemetry data on the movement patterns and habitat use of European catfish (Silurus glanis) in a reservoir of the River Ebro, Spain. Ecol Freshw Fish 16: 450-456. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0633.2007.00225.x

5 Slavik O, Horky P, Bartos J, Kolarova J, Randak T (2007) Diurnal and seasonal behaviour of adult and juvenile European catfish as determinate by radio-telemetry in the River Berounka, Czech Republic. J Fish Biol 71: 101-114 doi:10.1111/j.1095-8649.2007.01471.x

6 Danek T, Horky P, Kalous L, Filinger K, Brichacek V, Slavik O (2016) Seasonal changes in diel activity o juvenile European catfish Silurus glanis (Linnaeus, 1758) in Bysicka Lake, Central Bohemia. J Appl Ichthyol 32:1093-1098 DOI: 10.1111/jai.13146

7 Capra H, Plichard L, Berge J, Pella H, Ovidio M, McNeil E, Lamouroux N (2017) Fish habitat selection in a large hydropeaking river: Strong individual and temporal variations revealed by telemetry.  Sci Total Environ 578: 109-120

8 Capra H, Pella H, Ovidio M (2018) Individual movements, home ranges and habitat use by native rheophilic cyprinids and non-native catfish in a large regulated river. Fisheries Manag Ecol 25:136-149 DOI: 10.111/fme.12272

9 Lenhardt M, Suciu R, Hont S, Cvijanovic G, Nikcevic M, Skoric S, Smederevac-Lalic M (2018) Investigation of fish behavior et Iron Gate II Hydropower plant by acoustic telemetry. Book of Abstract, The 42nd IAD Conference, Smolenice, Slovakia, 2-6 July 2018: 39.