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Remedy to Catfish Mortality: What to Do When Your Fishes are Dying


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The recent rise in rate of catfish mortality is a phenomenon. Mortality rates in some farms are above 30 percent, which is not acceptable in any way. A proactive farmer can reduce catfish mortality by at least 50 percent if causes of diseases in catfish farms are taken care of. More so, if diseases are discovered and diagnosed earlier, solutions can be applied.

Control of catfish mortality is a knowledge all profit-minded farmers must learn to acquire. However, it is sometimes unfortunate that solutions recommended in books and other platforms are not always effective in this part of the world. In other words, indigenous researchers have to do more in the area of catfish disease control. Many at times, control of catfish mortality go beyond application of certain selected drugs. In fact, good observation of your stock could be all you need to avoid uncontrolled mortality.

I have discovered through my years of experience in catfish farming that mortality will not just occur; there must be a cause. It will be a good and wise decision to tackle the root cause of the problem and not just address the problem on the surface. You can only be sure of the root cause of the problem through laboratory tests which will help you to know the cause and specific solution to be applied. If the use of drugs will be required, you will know the specific drug to use. This is why a farmer must not wait till the time his fishes will stop eating before taking appropriate action. Once you discover mortality consistently, take action by applying the right therapy.

In Nigeria of today, there are not many drugs specifically manufactured for catfishes. A pharmaceutical company who will research into drugs for catfishes will do well in Nigerian market. All these while, catfish farmers in Nigeria have depended so much on poultry drugs to cure catfish diseases. Little wonder that some of these drugs will not work as expected.

Prevention is better than cure, says an adage. Mortality in catfish can be totally eradicated or controlled to the barest minimum if these two conditions are met:

  1. Good water quality
  2. And healthy feed

Every suggestion as regards prevention of catfish mortality is either related to good water management or feed management. Here are the highlights of what you need to do to limit mortality in your stock throughout a farming season:

  • Never stock your pond without adequate pond preparation. If your pond is not properly prepared, cycles of pathogens causing disease will not be broken. It will be a wise decision on your part as a catfish farmer to do the necessary as regards pond preparation. For lime treatment of your ponds, 250kg of lime is recommended per acre of pond surface. Also under pond preparation, ensure all macro-organisms (tilapia, frog, etc.) are eradicated from your pond before introducing new set of fishes. Do not allow residual infection to spread to your new stock through poor pond preparation.
  • Ensure that water quality entering into your ponds is not compromised. As much as possible, prevent turbid water from flood entering into your pond. Also take note of water coming into your pond from adjoining ponds. If you allow water from disease infected ponds to enter into your pond, sooner or later, you will start to experience the same diseases in those ponds where your water source is derived. Never allow water coming out of ponds with bigger fishes to enter into ponds of smaller fishes. It is possible that bigger fishes have developed resistance to certain diseases in their ponds. Smaller fishes receiving water from bigger fishes with disease will be at the risk of infection.
  • Proper monitoring of feed consumed by your stock of fish is very important. Certain feed and feed ingredients can induce mortality if some toxic substances are found in them. Make sure you buy floating feed with pedigree. Select your feed ingredients well.
  • Keen observation of fish stock on a daily basis is what every farmer must learn to prevent heavy mortality. Before feeding, farmers must look out for any behavioral change in their fish stock. Prior to mortality is behavioral change. The change in behavior of these fishes may be in the way they react to your movement, sound of your vehicle, change in their swimming pattern, their activeness and so on. It could also be a change in their response to feed. Instead of rushing to consume their feed, they run away as soon as feed touches their water. A proactive farmer should observe these changes in behavioral pattern and act accordingly. Stop feeding as soon as you notice any negative change in the activities of your fishes. Never force your fishes to eat what they cannot eat.
  • Routine medication can be applied to prevent mortality. This is done by adding certain mild drugs into your feed periodically (e.g. once in a month). However, experience has shown that there are certain challenges related to routine medication in catfish feed. It can lead to development of resistance to certain drugs causing them to be more vulnerable when they are sick and the same drug is applied.

What to Do When Mortality Occurs

Many have asked questions on what exactly to do when mortality occurs. I must say that the cause of mortality will determine the method to use in controlling it. For reference purposes, here are the steps you need to follow in the process of controlling mortality in your farm:

i) Identify the root cause of mortality through intelligent observation and laboratory test. Some experienced farmers can diagnose the cause of mortality through close observation. However, observation might not work sometimes. To be on the safer side, the need for laboratory test is very crucial. Farmers are to take a sample of the following for laboratory test in the case of mortality:

  • Water sample
  • Dead/sick fish
  • Feed sample

The diseases causing mortality could be water-borne or feed-borne. Only laboratory test will let you know the exact cause of the problem.

ii) Analyze the results of your test or observation to know what exactly to do. Cure for water-borne disease is not the same as the cure for feed-borne disease.

iii) Embark on application of right treatment at the right time, based on the analysis of your results, to prevent uncontrolled mortality.

Cure/Treatment of Catfish Diseases

As said earlier, the treatment of catfish diseases is based on the cause identified. In essence, there are different kinds of treatments based on the cause. Generally, below are the treatments for catfish diseases:

a) Drain out the water from your pond if results reveal high level of pathogen in the pond water. The pond water drained out should be replaced with fresh, unpolluted water. If your fishes are still very young, ensure you introduce the fresh water gradually into your pond to ensure your fishes are not stressed up.

b) Where you don’t have enough water, salt can be used to treat your pond water. Salt treatment is always applied by farmers because salt contain chlorine, and chlorine is a good water sanitizer. Dissolution of industrial salt into your pond water will release chlorine gradually into your water to get your pond treated. However, effectiveness of such treatment is not always guaranteed because farmers may not apply the right quantity of salt into the pond water. To ensure proper treatment of your water with salt, the volume of the water in your pond must be known. Bear in mind that salt can be used to treat your water and also used to kill your fishes if it is applied in wrong quantity.

c) Iodine treatment can also be applied to treat your pond. The use of formaline (Formaldehyde) is a nonconventional treatment for catfishes because of the health implication on end consumers. If you are to use formaline at all, you must observe a withdrawal period of at least five months before the fishes are sold to the market.

d) Feed-borne mortality is treated by immediate withdrawal of feed causing mortality. Farmer should discontinue using a feed that is causing mortality not minding the cost of purchase.

e) Fishes that have been affected by pathogens are treated by applying the appropriate medication based on the recommendations on the laboratory test results. As a matter of fact, laboratory test will tell you the specific type of drug to use.

f) At times, all you need to do is to stop feeding for a minimum of two days and a maximum of five days if nothing is wrong with your water and feed.

g) For further clarification, consult experts.


How to Succeed at Catfish Farming: Here’s the Process Every Farmer Must Follow


Help Your Fishes Grow: Factors to Consider before Selecting your Feed Ingredients


  1. Oladunmoye Muideen

    God bless you for these insightful mind blowing write ups may you continue to increase in knowledge as you contribute ur quota to humanity.

  2. sessi ogunme

    good morning sir. pls which lab can i do tests on fish. cos ive recorded lose to 800 death within one month
    im a new in d biz and im getting discouraged already. pls i need urgent reply. i stay in abeokuta.

    • Hi,
      I want to say sorry for the lost.Please take the sample of your water,feed and mortality to Zatech Lab in Ibadan. Thanks

      • sessi ogunme

        thanks. pls where in ibadan is that. pls can u give me the full adress
        pls can i have your number sir. thanks

      • Mur'tadho

        Sorry, is there no lab in Osogbo state of osun?

  3. sessi ogunme

    good day sir. the test result is out and the cause of death is acidity of water 5.2ph and low calcium. pls do you kmow how i can correct it sir.

    • Increase DCP in your feed. Also, change your pond water with fresh water from flowing stream, if condition persist please sell them and start afresh. Remember to lime your pond when you want to restock. Thanks

    • Had DCP to your feed to correct calcium deficiency…..Remove the pond water and allow the fresh one to flow in.

  4. Increase DCP in your feed. Also, change your pond water with fresh water from flowing stream, if condition persist please sell them and start afresh. Remember to lime your pond when you want to restock. Thanks

  5. oby chukwuka

    Good day sir I think I have a similar problem wt Sissi and am new in this biz, pls what is DCP. I’m in Abuja and I don’t knw any where I can do d test. Thanks.

    • Oby! DCP means Di-calcium phosphate. You can use it instead of bone-meal,limestone-meal and seashell-meal. You can do test for your fish in any animal lab usually owned by big farms.

  6. Adelakun Idowu

    What can I use to lime my Earthen pond and is going to be for hw many days or weeks before deliming it, or don’t I need to delime it again?

  7. Precious Chimuanya

    Please what are the main cause of stunted growth of a well fed cat fish? please am new in this business and I am experiencing this stunted or no growth at all in my fishes. My fishes are four months old now but looking at them is like they are one or two months old upon all the feeding.

  8. Olaleye Nathaniel

    Mr Eniola Abiodun. Tanz a lot for diz gr8 enlightenment. The Lord is ur strength… Plz, kip it up!

  9. Sofoyeke Adesina

    My fish are still under 2 months eating Coppens floating feed. I have sorted them into three different sizes. I have serious mortality when they were still fingerlings. Though it has reduced but they still drop. I have administered Potassium Pomunganate as directed by the hatcher. But now am administering anti biotics by name Floxinor distributed by Jubaili Agrotech. U use Concrete tanks.

    • I do hope your antibiotic will cure your fishes completely.


        Honestly i must confess, i have been peeping on your articles….as a practicing young fish farmer i testify with all my heart that all your prescriptions are very accurate sir. What sweets me the most was the issues of book prescribing medications…they are not always accurate but and illitrate experienced catfish farmer can prescribe medication for a fish professor which i have witnessed tens of times…indeed this site is not suppossed to be freely visited because of the helpfull informations it contains but all i want to say is that ” more grease to your elbow”….

  10. Temiloluwa

    For those using plastic ponds what are the preparation needed Thanks

  11. Echem Ogbonda G

    Thanks for your lecture.
    Echem, O.G

  12. Joseph

    What is the present cost of feeding 3000 fingerlings to average of 1.5kg, and how many months would it take?
    Also, I’m about starting a fish cycle, but the problem is my earthen pond has very little water during the dry season, even if most other ponds around there have fresh water. From your experience would there be enough water supply during the rainy season?

  13. Ibk

    I use old bath tube for my juveniles ,is it okAy? They are not feeding well and changing coloured ,what can I do?

  14. EMD

    Nice work sir…. Very impactful

  15. Omotayo rasaq olusegun

    What could always cause high mortality rate of 4 weeks stocked fish : solutions

  16. Chidinma

    Please I am using bath tub pond. Fibre bath tub. What cabin use to prepare the pond and is Skretting feed good?

  17. Austin

    After treating my pond with lime, potash and salt, how many days should I wait before introducing my juvenile fish

  18. Nawaz pasha

    Sir my catfish is dying lakhs of fishes in my ponds wat medicine i shud use sir can u help me…sir

  19. Hope

    Good morning, please I’m New in this fish training business, my pond is built with tiles. MY fish is juvenile but for some days now I noticed that one or two will die but yesterday four died. What should I do ?

  20. Vivi mike

    Thanks very much for this gr8 information on fish ceases am actually planing to go into fish farming and am in delta Warri am trying to use concrete pond but I have were I can rent up to 50 earthen pond , and am also trying to start with 16000 fishes pls what do you advice for me thank so much

  21. Sunday Obi

    Good morning sir, I introduce fingerlings inside the pond, two days after I saw a big snake inside during feeding. How do get rid of this snake without stressing my small fishes. Thanks and hope t hear from you soon



  23. Yaniya

    We used last 5 days puberaid powder that used for cow n bafflow we lose 300 catfish in one day ryt now isn’t any problem wid this powder what we do

  24. vincent ogbogoh

    what antibiotics is used to treat fish. please whats DCP?

  25. Gloria

    Hello, thanks for this insightful teaching… I’m new in the Biz and my fish is just 3wewks old..noticed mortality in one of my ponds, asked to open the water pipe to allow water flow in and out and treated it with salt..still experiencing more fishes dying..
    Observed some of the fishes has sore on their body and some are standing at attention… Just started administering antibiotics..
    Pls, is this all I should do…well over 50 fishes are dead already…need all the help I can get..thanks

  26. Morning sir I have experience very high mortality 1,000 fish died in two day please which lab will you recommend for me in ABUJA for the water test tnx

  27. ADE

    Good day Eniola, I’m New in fish farming and my pond is sandcrete (block) made, pls do I need to treat it with chlorine or formalin?

  28. My name is Eugenia Igyuh.

    Hello sir, thank you for the enlightenment.My fish dy at the post-fry stage, infact the last stocking was 4000 a month ago and as at now, i have 800 left, i feel so sad. i have taken a sample of the water from the pond and tap to the lab, awaitng result. I started last year at about this time without much problem. I use plastic tanks.
    Thank you sir.

  29. Oluchi Leonard

    Please Sir, what causes swollen of stomach in catfish

  30. precious

    Good morning sir, some one told me I can harvest a mature fish In four month if I bust their growth and add calcium to my fish so I want to know if it is possible and if yes how can I get the calcium

  31. Lanre

    can we use poultry feed like finisher or layers marsh mixed with EBA to feed catfish going to 3months?

  32. Clement Akwa

    my fishes of 2 months just turn white and die. what do I do ?

  33. ADEYEMO adeyinka

    Pls my name is ADEYINKA I’m living in Lagos..I’ve been experiences mortality in my fishes for some months now..and I’ve tried all the medicine that prescribe for me but it didn’t work..I’ve used OTC still it didn’t work …the mortality started when they are 3months plus…please what can I do again because I’m running at lost now…

  34. Stephen ABEJIDE

    Please I want to learn how to hatch catfish I’m in ondo state or Ekiti

  35. Stephen ABEJIDE

    And how to be made feed by myself

  36. Abdulsalam

    Great one…. Thank you all

  37. Muideen Abdulsalam

    Good morning my senior colleagues in fish farming business, I noticed a small small but glaring sore like Marks on the head of the fishes I hope this is not an infection and how can I fight the effect.

  38. I will love to know about catfish more

  39. Ahmed busari

    Good day… God bless you for your forensic analysis.. I face alot of challenged during this dry season base upon the borehole water I used…. I just notices my fish was die although am using this water before during rain season … I just want to know what can I use to treat the borehole water .. I mean the drugs to use and where can I get the drugs

  40. Ahmed b

    Good day… God bless you for your forensic analysis.. I face alot of challenged during this dry season base upon the borehole water I used…. I just notices my fish was die although am using this water before during rain season … I just want to know what can I use to treat the borehole water .. I mean the drugs to use and where can I get the drugs

  41. Mary bee

    Thanks for this great article, May God continue to strengthen you, please I will like to know the cause of cat fish floating,I always find one dead fish each day in my pond, and I have evacuated the water and refill then it stopped for lime a week and occur again, am confused and worried, am new to this business

  42. Adeleke Taiwo

    Thanks so much for the information and God bless you. Now I:m really encouraged to continue in the business at least with this write -up of yours , I ve know more than before.

  43. Mercy

    My one week fries are just laying down under the pond and dieing please do you know any drugs for the treatment

  44. Egworefa Maura

    pls I noticed my fishes vomit after I drain the pond to replace with clean water….pls why is that

    • Easygold fisheries

      Probably you changed the water immediately after you feed them. If you want to change your water, ensure they have not been fed for at least 2-3 hours

  45. Gud evening Sir, please what causes hanging of fingerlings resulting to mortality.. Am new in the business.. Any solution sir?

  46. Kenneth Reuben

    God bless you sir

  47. Steve

    Thanks for the info. But please can any medical lab run the test? Where I stay there is no animal or aqua lab. If they can how will I describe the kind if test I want to run? Your contact pls


    Rapid death on dialy basis despite changing of water. What could be the possible cause and cure.
    Pls specify wether treatment should be done with fish inside the pond.

  49. Adekoya Gbenga (Halleluyah farm)

    Please i will advise we have a whatsapp group so that we can discuss on how we can improve on our fish farming, last week and this week have loose more than 50 fishes, the disease is called jaundice
    That’s my whatsapp, i produce my feed myself.

  50. Wilfred Komone

    May God continue to promote u, the sky shall be ur start point, the information shared here is more than a million bucks, it is saving many people from frustration and bankruptcy. Thanks

  51. ife

    Thanks for the insightful write up.

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