Pond preparation is one of the major activities preceding stocking of fish seed. This stage is so important that the success or failure of each farming season depends largely on how well a pond is prepared. Pond preparation includes de-mudding (removal of mud from ponds) of existing ponds or digging of new ones. Consideration must be given to proper layout of pipes, to ensure adequate inflow and outflow of water in and out of the ponds. Also under this stage, consideration must be given to stability, strength, and thickness of the dike. Failure to observe/comply might lead to run off water entering into the pond.
Also worthy of note under this section is the depth of the pond. It has been observed that shallow water, of less than 3 feet, often limit the growth potential of fishes stocked. Catfishes do better in a pond with depth of between 4 and 6.5 feet. A pond that is too deep puts farmers at a disadvantage in many ways:
- A pond of more than 7 feet is too deep to allow the penetration of sun rays to get to the bottom of the pond, causing the water to turn grey/black before long.
- A pond that is too deep can also affect the uniformity of pond temperature, making the fishes to avoid certain parts of the pond since catfishes are warm-blooded organisms just like you and I.
- Safety of farmer and weed pollution control might not be attainable with a pond that is too deep.
- Removal of pond from the pond might be too difficult depending on the depth of the pond in relation to the dikes.
- Finally, harvesting will not be easy without pumping out some water from the pond, and that will lead to extra cost of harvesting.
At the stage of pond preparation, a farmer must make sure that there are no fishes remaining in the pond – especially when the pond has been in use previously. For instance, a fish of 1kg remaining in the pond can eat up an average of 50 fingerlings per day. In essence, in less than 25 days, a table size fish can finish up to 1,000 fingerlings. Therefore, pipes linking ponds of old stock and new stock must be blocked to avoid movement of bigger fishes into newly stocked ponds.
In addition to other points mentioned under this section, there may be need to lime the new or existing pond to keep at bay the growth of pathogens that may cause diseases capable of wiping out the entire stocked fish and also to encourage the growth of plants which may serve as food for our fingerlings as well as regulating the acidity or alkalinity of the pond.