Monster wels catfish found in Swiss lake

Monster wels catfish found in Swiss lake

A European wels catfish stretching over two metres in length has been discovered dead in a small lake outside the city of Zurich

Wels catfish discovered by paddleboarders

Already dubbed “The monster of Greifensee," the fish was discovered this week by Ursi Ingold and Andy Oppliger while stand-up paddleboarding on lake Greifensee, a small lake in Canton Zurich. "We went into the water with our paddles and took photos to show how huge the fish really is," they said after finding the fish in the water near the town of Maur.

The pair used their paddleboards to measure the beast, finding that the fish was over two metres long. Subsequent visits brought the sighting to the attention of the maritime police, who disposed of the body days later. 

"This catfish is one of the largest specimens I have ever seen in Greifensee” commented the fisheries overseer for the lake, who estimated that the fish was around 25 years old. Catfish can live until they are 60.

Are Swiss catfish dangerous?

Wels catfish were introduced to Switzerland illegally in the 1990s and have dominated Swiss lakes and rivers ever since. Catfish have found plentiful food in Swiss waters, one of the reasons why they have grown so large. Only two weeks ago, a swimmer found himself attacked by a large catfish on the Greifensee. Maritime police were unable to confirm whether it was the same fish. So the question remains whether locals should steer clear of the water? 

According to Andreas Hertig from the Office for Landscape and Nature in Canton Zurich, swimmers shouldn’t be worried. “There are horror stories” he concedes, noting the case of “Killer Catfish Kuno” in Mönchengladbach, Germany, but on the whole, catfish do not target humans. It is a voracious predator, but “On his menu are primarily fish. Or sometimes a duck, a seagull or a swimming rat.”

In the case of the attack on the swimmer, it was agreed that the swimmer accidentally swam near the catfish’s nesting sight, provoking an attack in self-defence. These cases are noted as one of the few times a catfish would knowingly attack a human. Catfish do have small teeth, arranged in a wide mouth, flanked by the whiskers that give it its' name. Although a well-discussed topic throughout the canton, it has not yet stopped people from taking a swim.

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Editor for Switzerland at IamExpat Media. Jan studied History at the University of York and Broadcast Journalism at the University of Sheffield. Though born in York, Jan has lived most...

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