Channel catfish culture
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CHANNEL CATFISH CULTURE. Channel Catfish ( Ictalurus punctatus ). Native Range of Channel Catfish in the United States. Food Habits. Preferred Habitat. Reservoirs and lakes. Rivers. Reproductive Live History. 1. Sexual maturity is reached in 2 to 3 years in the southeastern U. S.

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Channel Catfish ( Ictaluruspunctatus )

Native Range of Channel Catfish in the United States

Food Habits

Preferred Habitat

Reservoirs and lakes


Reproductive Live History

1. Sexual maturity is reached in 2 to 3 years in the southeastern U. S.

2. Spawning takes place in a cavity formed by rocks, logs or a hole in a lake or river bank.

3. Preferred spawning water temperatures: 21-29 C, with optimal temperature 24 to 26 C.


1. Males defend a territory/cavity.

2. Female enters the cavity and spawns.

3. Males incubate eggs and defend fry.

4. Males can spawn with more than one female a season.

Spawning cavity

Catfish are grown in 4 to 10 ha earthen ponds with flat bottoms.

Catfish ponds are filled with either:

Filtered surface

water or rainfall

Well water

Spawning in captivity:

1. Stock adults 3 to 8 years old

2. Stock 1 male to 2 females

3. Stock 800 kg of brooders/ha



Spawning Containers

Ammo cans

Milk cans


Wooden box

Boxes in spawning pond

Spawning occurs during May and June in the Southeastern U. S. Spawning cans are checked every 2 to 3 days for spawns.

Hatching Shed

Eggs are transported to a hatching shed.

Eggs are placed in 5-mm squarewire mesh baskets suspended in a paddlewheel incubator.

Eggs hatch in 5 to 6 days at watertemperatures of 24 to 26 °C.

Fry are placed in screen boxes or troughs for 7 to 14 days before stocking in ponds.

Fry are fed powdered feed.

Screen bottom boxes

Fiberglass trough

Fry are stocked at 150,000 to 250,000/ha and grown for 5 months.

Fry are fed powdered, crumbled and pelleted feeds.

Fingerlings are stocked in fatteningponds during January to March. Stocking density is 15,000 to 20,000/ha.

Catfish feed is purchased by the bag or delivered in bulk and stored in silos.

Floating pellets aredistributed by a feedblower mounted on atruck.

Floating pellets

corn wheat soybean

Feed amount is controlled by an electronic scalelocated in the truck cab. Catfish are fed what they will eat up to a maximum of 120 kg/ha/day.

Dissolved oxygen concentration ischecked night and day to assurethat levels remain above 2 mg/l.

Electric (fixed) and tractor (mobile) powered paddlewheels are used to increase D. O. levels.

No water exchange is practiced because ponds are large and pumping water is costly.

Low D. O. can kill catfish within 1 or 2 hours.

Many diseases cause fish mortality.

Birds consume many fish in some regions.

Shoo !

Gas cannon to

scare the birds

Catfish are removed from the pond with a seinestored on a hydraulic reel powered by a tractor.

Management systems used:

  • Monoharvest

  • All catfish are removed from the pond when they reach 0.5 to 1.0 kg, 6 to 12 months from stocking.

  • Ponds are drained yearly.

    2. Multi-harvest

  • Only catfish larger than 0.5 kg are removed by partial seine harvest.

  • Ponds are restocked yearly with small catfish. Large and small catfish are in the pond together.

  • Ponds are partial harvested 2 to 3 times per year. Ponds are drained every 5 to 8 years.

Catfish are retained in a holding net overnight to eliminate small catfish. Fish are crowded for loading onto the transport truck. A crew of 5 can load 15,000 kg of fish in 1 hour.

Catfish are weighed onto trucks taking the fish tothe processing factory. Each basket holds 900 kg of fish.


Fish are checked for off-flavor 2 weeks, 1 day and upon arrival at the processor. Off-flavor fish are not harvested.

Catfish are weighed a second time upon arrival at the processor. Fish arrive alive.


Catfish are cleaned, filleted and frozen by the processor.

Processed forms as a percentage of total catfish processed:


Fillets and




1. Whole - 20 %

2. Pieces and bellies - 20%

3. Fillets - 60 %

Preservation method as a percentage of total catfish processed:

1. iced - 20 %

2. frozen - 80 %

The catfish industry maintains a qualitycontrol program to insure the consumera fresh and healthyproduct.

Principle farming states are located inthe Southeastern U. S.. Mississippi (MS) Alabama (AL) and Arkansas (AR) produce 90 % of the farmed catfish.

Mississippi accounts for 65 % of farmed catfish

The channel catfish industry developed in theSoutheast because:

1. Popular food fish - market

2. Warm climate

3. Abundant water and clay soils

4. Close to major grain farming regions - cheap fish


Pond yield

4,000 to 7,000 kg/ha/year

Channel Catfish Growth in Live Weight Processed and Average Price per Kilogram, 1970 - 2002



  • ---------------------------- -----------------

  • 1970 2,609,545 0.75

  • 1975 7,336,363 1.09

  • 198021,120,000 1.50

  • 1985 87,098,181 1.58

  • 163,636,360 1.69

  • 203,130,000 1.74

  • 1999 271,194,000 1.63

  • 269,819,5401.65

  • 271,141,272 1.43

  • 2002 286,636,8101.25

  • * Price to farmer for fish delivered to the processing plant




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