Many years’ experience in catfish farming and management has taught me basic things I need to observe in my day to day running of my catfish farm. Some of my observations are more or less basic principles of catfish farming. Once they are observed, success is inevitable. If you want to get good result like me, then these basic principles of catfish farming must be duly taken care of in your farms. I assure you, once you can observe the best practices in catfish farming as listed below, your return on catfish farming investment is guaranteed. The following are the summary of basic best practices in catfish farming:
1. Ensure You Stock Quality Fingerlings/Juveniles: Good seed, water and feed are the most important factors of catfish farming. No matter how good your catfish management skill is, poorly bred seed can frustrate your effort.
2. Stocking more than the carriage capacity of your ponds will not increase returns on your investment but trigger unnecessary management stress. The best practice to ensure your pond is neither overstocked nor understocked is to stock your fingerlings/juveniles in a separate pond and later count and restock in other ponds. This will make you to be sure of actual number of fishes stocked.
3. Feed Your Fishes Regularly: I recommend feeding twice a day for fishes under two months old. You can limit their feeding to once a day once they are grown up. Skip feeding will not enhance consistency in growth of your catfishes.
4. You can enhance your rate of returns by skillfully combining floating feed and locally pelletized feed to raise your fishes to table size. I recommend usage of good floating feed for minimum of six weeks and maximum of ten weeks. Follow up your feeding with rich, locally pelletized feed. However, you are permitted to use floating feed throughout if you raise your fish in concrete/synthetic rubber pond.
5. The use of quality feed cannot be overemphasized in catfish farming. Whether readymade feed or feed formulated yourself, basic nutritional requirement of your fishes must not be compromised. Cost should not be the only guiding principle in the choice of feed. Do not compromise quality for price. If you are not sure of the quality of your locally pelletized feed, it is better you use readymade feed with proven quality guaranteed.
6. Stop feeding once frequent or uncontrolled mortality is discovered on your pond. You can resume feeding once your fishes stabilize. Feeding fishes with health challenges can trigger increased rate of mortality. Make sure you increase feed given to recovering fishes gradually till they reach their normal health status.
7. Overfeeding is a waste of fortune. If only you can use camera to monitor wasted feed at the bottom of your ponds, you will see how much feed you have wasted. If you find it difficult to regulate your feeding, using floating feed all through will not be a bad idea.
8. Underfeeding encourages cannibalism and uneven growth/development. Don’t forget that it is natural for a hungry fish to feed on another hungry fish. Ensure you feed your fish well.
9. The usage of supplementary feed like offal, poultry waste, meat waste, maggot, earthworms, blood waste, etc. are never a bad idea provided they do not cost more than normal pellets. Don’t forget that they are wastes and they should be treated as supplementary feed, not real feed. Do not reject them if you can get them free or at cheaper price. Combining the usage of normal pellet and supplementary feed will help your fish to feed on variety of diets.
10. Water management is one of the core aspects of catfish farming that you must master. If possible, make your pond free of pollution. A good fish is a product of good environment (water).
11. A deep pond produces good results but your pond must not be too deep. A minimum of four feet and maximum of seven feet of water level is recommended for your pond. Shallow ponds produce small fishes except in a very rare situation where flow-through is in place.
12. Avoid usage of drugs when your fishes are healthy, except for routine management purposes. Ensure that your fishes do not develop resistance to drugs by avoiding it when necessary.
13. Never sell your fishes when they are still under medication. Ensure you maintain at least seven days withdrawal period before sales of your fishes. Do not sell disease infected fishes.
14. Do not sell your fishes before maturity. Make sure you plan the sales of your fishes as you are stocking them. Impulse sales will not favor you as a farmer. Sell your fishes to the best customer as you deem fit.
16. Consult an expert if you need further clarification.