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We went out to feed our catfish last night and we were practically horrified. Something is literally taking chunks out of the catfish. Any ideas what to look for? I don’t have any pictures. But one had about a quarter size chunk missing and the others look like they have been in a war. Can bluegill get that aggressive? As far as I know we only have large mouth, striped, bluegill and channel cats, and a coup/few grass carp in the pond. There are crawfish holes around the pond but I’ve never seen any. Maybe a turtle? I feel awful for the fish as it looks like they are literally being eaten alive.

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Welcome to Pond Boss!!

Sometimes, bass and bluegill have 'puncture' wounds and Great Blue Herons tend to be the culprits, but these wounds don't really have chunks of flesh missing.

Snapping turtles can take chunks of flesh out, but they really are not a threat to healthy fish.

Spawning activity for catfish does make some of them look battle-scarred, but not chunks of flesh missing.


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"She took another microscopic bite of her sandwich, then pushed it away. Maybe she absorbed nutrients from her surroundings."

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Sounds like otters may be another possibility?

Can you post some pics?

Lots of people on the forum have battled herons and otters. They might be able to give you a good idea just by looking.

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Originally Posted by Soundguy
... a coup/few grass carp ....
You sound like a fellow native Ahian.

Otters seem most likely based on the bite description. I don't know for sure that we have otters around here (although we have all kinds of wildlife - bald eagles, osprey, bobcats - that were unknown in these parts back in my distant youth). I have found the remains of eaten fish consisting only of hard parts and scales, which might have been otters. Pics of a deceased catfish would be interesting and probably useful.


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Otters have made a great comeback in Ohio. We have a trapping season in all counties. Please note that they are NOT in season right now and that you should contact your county's wildlife officer to see if you allowed to trap nescience ones. I believe that all trapped otters need a CITES tag also. Otters can wreak havoc on a pond. My Uncles FW prawn farm in Noble co. was completely wiped out in a matter of days due to otters.

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It would be odd for an Otter to bite and not kill a fish. When they get to "play-hunting" they will quite often drag them up on shore, take a bite or 2 (sometimes not even that) and then go back for another. It would also be especially strange for a turtle to land a bite on numerous fish, same with a Heron. Otter is probably it, but that's strange behavior from what I've ever encountered.

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If it's just skin removed and not an actual chunk/bite taken out at this time of the year (depending on water temp) it could be make catfish fighting over spawning areas too. Unless caught and the fish in hand it's hard to tell with the fish in the water if it's a sore or an actual chunk taken out.


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