Many catfish farmers wonder why their fishes sometimes become restless especially during feeding. In many cases, once fishes scatter they might not return to feed for the day again. This situation may sometimes persist if necessary action is not taken.
The effect of restlessness in catfish is not small. It can affect feeding habit in fishes thereby affecting their growth. Also, restlessness induces unnecessary stress in fishes. If the stress persists, certain numbers of mortality occur daily. Researchers have shown that there are at least five major causes of restlessness in catfish, and below are the causes identified:
1. Presence of predators: Certain predators live with your fishes, especially in earthen ponds, and others that do not live in water can attack fishes from land or air. Predators like snakes, alligators, crocodiles, tortoises, ospreys, eagles, herons and some group of amphibians are known as animals that feed on fish. The best time water predators attack fishes are when they are feeding. This is due to the fact that gathering of fishes during feeding makes it easy for them to identify their prey and also launch an attack. As one of the fishes is attacked, others run for their lives. This results in restlessness of fishes sometimes during feeding. A fish of about 100 grams or below can be preyed on by birds. Juveniles/post juveniles can also run for their lives when eagles or other fish-eating birds fly over them.
2. Presence of big fish: Due to poor pond preparation or poor management of pipes linking two stocked ponds of different ages, bigger fish(es) could enter into the pond of new stocked fish. It has been observed from experience that big fishes prefer to feed on smaller fishes. They do this during feeding or any other time they feel like eating thereby causing restlessness in small fishes. The best solution to this problem is to drag the pond and remove bigger fishes that will not allow smaller ones to rest.
3. Disease and infections: Restlessness is one of the signs you must look out for when your fishes are in early stage of infection. Instead of rushing their feed, they will run away from it. Occasionally, some of them run away at intervals. The next thing you notice is one or two mortality per day. If not controlled on time, it might lead to high rate of mortality. When next you notice restlessness not related to disturbance from predator, take the right step of treating your fishes before this leads to economic loss.
4. Man Interference: This comes in two ways: Firstly, legitimate interference by the owner or any other authorized agent to carry out any assignment in the stocked pond. Such assignment may include removal of water weed, test cropping or any other assignment. Secondly, someone might enter into your pond by accident or to steal your fishes. Any of these interferences can cause your fishes to be stressed and restless. I often encourage catfish farmers to always respect the privacy of their fishes. Limit your activities in a stocked pond. If possible, don’t enter into your stocked ponds unless you are ready to crop.
5. Polluted Water: Have you ever witnessed a situation whereby your fishes attempt to run out of pond for safety. Sometimes, your fishes could swim vertically on water as if police is running after them. Check it well, your pond water is polluted and there is need for you to refresh the water. If you have fresh water entering your pond from another direction, you will see almost all your fishes at the same point. When next you witness restlessness due to water pollution, do the needful by refreshing your water.