A catfish farmer who does not know how to breed for his personal use cannot be said to be prolific in his business. This is due to the fact that no matter how good you are as a catfish farmer in raising for market sizes, your effort and skill can be made useless by catfish breeders. The quality of your seed has a lot to do with your eventual output at the end of each farming season. There are three major factors that usually affect the performance of catfishes: water quality, feed quality, and quality of seed. Among the factors mentioned, seed is the major determinant of success rate in catfish farming business. In fact, it determines up to 70% of success or failure of the business. Many breeders, especially small scale ones, might breed against the principle of breeding, intentionally, due to high demand sometimes at a particular season of the year or due to high cost of quality broodstock. Some of the ways catfish breeders violate the principles of breeding include:
- In-breeding: Geneticists (scientists that study genetics) have made us understand various benefits of crossbreeding over inbreeding. However, some breeders overlook this important principle of breeding due to their poor understanding about the subject or inability to go extra mile to get broodstock with exceptional qualities to produce improved breed.
- Poor selection of breed: Due to high demand for fingerlings and juvenile, many catfish breeders do not really care about the selection process for the broodstock. They have forgotten that they can only choose two individuals per generation and, as a matter of fact, if the best is not chosen they have to wait for another generation to correct or improve on what is on ground. Many at times, poor farmers are always at the receiving end since the breeders would have collected their money whether or not the generation bred is good or bad.
- Underage or Overage Broodstock: It is advisable for catfish breeder farmers to use a catfish of between 3 to 5 years of age for broodstock, and their sources should not be limited to cultured catfish alone but their search for good broodstock can take them to wild catfishes that posses the quality and attributes needed. In a situation whereby the farmer uses underage catfish for his broodstock the effect will be evident on the seed produced.
Here are some tips you should consider when sourcing catfish seed:
- Make sure you take your juveniles/fingerlings from qualified breeders.
- You should only collect juvenile/fingerlings from trustworthy breeders.
- Always try to ascertain the age of your intended seed from the breeder.
- Under no condition should a farmer collect juveniles/fingerlings that are not of the same size. They should be well graded.
- If a breeder is not trustworthy, it is advisable that a farmer takes fingerlings so as to be double sure that you are taking the right grade.
- The type of breed you stock – whether Clarias, Heteroclarias, Heterobranchus, etc. – does not matter provided they are of good grade.