According to a popular saying, “Prevention is better than cure.” This is due to the fact that the cost of prevention is always cheaper than the cost of control/cure. In catfish farming, effect of mortality due to disease may be severe. In fact, some diseases in catfish are incurable when they are discovered late. For instance, crack/broken head disease in catfish is difficult to cure. Any attempt to administer drug is usually a wasted effort. My recent experience in a friend’s farm prompted me to write this short note. He lost almost half of his capital to a disease that can be prevented.
Here are the ways to prevent Diseases in your stock:
- Prepare Your Ponds: Prevention of diseases starts with pond preparation. Pond preparation through de-mudding and liming help at removing some incubated diseases that could cause mortality in small fishes. For example, leech in an abandoned pond can be completely destroyed by liming after mud has been removed from an earthen pond. Other types of ponds can also be prepared for stocking through washing of walls with salt water, formalin or any other formulation that can kills germs without residual effect on the pond.
- Source for the Right Juvenile: Like I’ve always said, seed is one of the three major determinants of success in catfish farming business. How your fishes are bred affect the resistance of your stock to certain prevalent diseases. I have discovered that apart from poor nutrition, in-breeding is the second major cause of “Crack Head” in catfish. Crack Head disease due to poorly bred fish cannot be cured.
- Avoid Contaminated Water Source: Most catfish diseases are contracted through contaminated water source. When pathogens in pond water increase above a level that can be tolerated, disease and consequently mortality are the result. Have you ever noticed that when you allow affluence from other ponds where fishes are dying into your pond, you will soon notice the same problem from such ponds in your pond. For those running flow-through system from natural stream or river, you must always keep your eye on the water quality entering into your pond. This is due to the fact that your water source can be polluted upstream at any time by either artificial or natural pollutants. To be on the safer side, you can make use of devices than can screen water coming into your pond from the inlet. Some of these screens can prevent any of the common pollutants be it biological, chemical or physical.
- Avoid Contaminated Feed: Be it expired feeds or feed ingredients, contaminated feeds must be avoided like a plague. Aflatoxin in catfish feed exceeding permitted level can cause or induce diseases. No matter how cheap those feeds are sold, you must not use them because you may not be able to prevent what will happen next.
- Prevent Pond Water Pollution: Your pond can be polluted through overstocking and overfeeding. Once change in water quality is discovered, farmers must take prompt action to either refresh or change the water. For the benefit of people who are new to the catfish business, change in water quality can be known through change in water color, odor coming out from the pond, sometimes low response to feed by your fishes, etc.
- Give Balanced Nutrients: There is no shortcut to profitability in catfish farming business. Giving your catfishes balanced nutrition will help their body to be in the proper shape to fight diseases. Honestly speaking, some catfish diseases are caused by feed deficiency in one nutrient or the other. Before you replace one feed ingredient with other, you must be sure of the suitability of such ingredient to provide the required nutrient. As rich as blood meal is, it cannot replace fishmeal. The reason is that fishmeal has as many as twenty different amino acids that are crucial for balanced growth in catfish. Blood meal has less of important proteins and an attempt to use more than required in feed can cause broken head disease in your stock. Also, I have concern for the ways local blood meal is processed. It is better for farmers to buy fresh blood from abattoir and process. It will save farmers of contaminations in some local blood meals.
- Routine Medication: I am never an advocate of medication but use of drug once a while to prevent disease outbreak is not too bad. I will like to recommend use of light drug periodically for local feed formulation. It will save you from unnecessary stress due to disease and mortality.