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Crack Head Disease in Catfish: Causes and Treatments


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A lot has been said on crack head disease of catfish on this blog. I think I mentioned this subject in two of my previous articles. However, I will like to dedicate this write-up to causes, identification and treatments of crack head in catfish.

Causes of Crack Head Disease in Catfish

  • We cannot completely rule out the possibility of crack head disease being a genetic and hereditary related problem. The fact remains that well-bred catfish may not develop this deficiency-related disease. I wish to challenge scholars in the field of aquaculture to take up more research on this topic.
  • Without any doubt, almost everyone in aquaculture/catfish farming believes that crack head disease is caused by either lack of certain nutrients or inability of catfish to make use of these nutrients in the feed. It has been observed that Vitamin C in catfish feed plays an important role in enhancing the ability of catfish body system to absorb vital micro-nutrients that support bone health and formation.
  • Crack head disease has also been linked with excess use of blood/feather meal in catfish feed to replace fish meal. In reality, blood meal and feather meal are rich in protein but lack some vital amino acids required for balanced growth of catfish. As high as protein in blood and feather meals are, they must be used with caution. The inclusive rate should not be more than five and ten percent respectively to avoid possibility of crack head disease.
  • It can also be caused by other diseases that are not treated on time.
  • Also both locally-pelleted sinking and floating feeds have shelf value after which the validity of essential nutrient in such feed is no longer guaranteed. The use of any expired feed might cause this disease. Recently, I discovered that poor drying process can cause locally pelletized feed to lose its essential nutrient whereby catfishes that feed on them are exposed to such disease as crack head.

How to Diagnose Crack Head Disease in Catfish

Crack head is not a common disease in juvenile and other smaller catfish. It can be treated if discovered earlier especially in small table size catfish. Farmers should suspect crack head in their stock if:

  • There is a sharp/sudden drop in feed consumption;
  • There are frequent mortalities of two or more before sudden drop in feed consumption;
  • The joints on the head of a fish mortality easily parts as soon as you touch it;
  • You notice blood stains on the heads of some of your live catfishes;
  • Feed consumption reduces to less than twenty percent of the previous feed record, followed by increased number of mortality at the secondary stage;
  • Little stress triggers much mortality;
  • And at the stage of losing so much catfishes through crack head induced mortality, treatments might be less effective.

Treatments of Crack Head Disease in Catfish

  • Early discovery of this disease is a key factor in the treatment process.
  • Immediately stop any suspected feed that could cause this disease.
  • Fortify your feed with Vitamin-C and other amino acids for quick recovery.
  • Treat any disease that could be primary cause of this disease.
  • Get some drugs specifically formulated for this particular disease from a Vet store around you.
  • For additional treatments, consult experts.


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  1. Kamanya Simon

    This is what we have been experiencing in our fish farms and I would like to thank you for this knowledgable post and i will follow it up

  2. Amaka Charles

    Thanks. very educative and helpful. just what am dealing with now. thanks once more

  3. Vinoth

    I have newly started cat fish farm.i noticed my fishes affected by head crack disease i stopped feeding but death is happening daily .in the head and fins become reddish in colour after that fish is dying please tell me the medicine to fish farm is about half acre and fishes are 30000 fishes are there in my farm

  4. Iorchir Augustine T

    Thanks For The Infor, I Have Treated The Creak Head Disease in my Farm

  5. Thanks so much for this interesting and helpful article. But please how do I know the quantity of the salt yo apply to my stock water? Thanks

  6. ayodeji akomolafe

    can high level of iron in water cause head breaking for fish?

  7. Erasmus Ibom

    I love this topic on catfish crack head and the solutions given.

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