Catfish farming consists of two most important types, which could either be operated separately or as an integrated process. The two divisions are the Nursery Fish farming and the Grow Out Fish Farming. The grow out fish farming is dependent of the nursery fish farming because you can’t grow fish without the nursery. But, like I said, they can be operated separately by two different farmers.
The nursery involves the inducement of the female fish to lay eggs, which are then fertilized, incubated and hatched. Those little fishes are know as fries. These fries are then nurtured from between three and four weeks into fingerlings which is the size suitable for use in the Grow Out farming. A catfish farming is a major investment operation. And so, starting one needs careful consideration.
In between the nursery and grow out operation is what we referred to as the primary operation. It involves the nurturing of the three or four weeks within which they could grow into post fingerlings, mini juveniles and juveniles respectively. These can then be nurtured for between four to five month into grow out or table size fish suitable for sale and consumption. Going into catfish farming involves the following
Step 1: Land For Catfish Farming
This is very important. One has to acquire at least half plot of land in a suitable location. This means, you must consider good access road, closeness to market and labor. If the land is already available, it is good. Then we apportion it as follows:
- Location of ponds
- Location of farm house
- Location of water supply and lastly, location of drainage facility. The last point is very important, as you don’t drain your water to constitute public nuisance.
Step 2: Pond Planning
You need to determine whether you want to go into big or small-scale commercial catfish farming. Secondly, the pond system to adopt, Re-circulatory system, earthen pond or concrete/plastic pond or both.
Once the pond was dug and the area has been developed, there is nothing you can do to undo the work and recover the cost. So, extensive evaluation must be done by someone planning to start a catfish farming before he finally decides whether it is wise for him to pursue the particular type of pond construction project.
Where should the pond be located? Does the site have enough supply of quality water (from wells or springs)? There are minimum water flow rate requirement in building a pond for a catfish. Will the source meet them? Employ professionals to test whether the water supply volume and flow rate meets standard requirement. Is the water supply suitable for catfish farming? Try growing a few catfish using water taken from the target source. Is the area suitable for pond construction in terms of soil composition and permeability?
Ideal soil for pond construction is one with good compaction property. One resource you can run to check on this is your local soil management office. Catfish farming will require some water movement. Will you be able to obtain permits and other necessary licenses for the operation?
Step 3: Water Supply Source
The best water for catfish farming is from bore hole. One or two must be sunk to guarantee steady water supply. Overhead tanks for holding water should also be installed. The mechanism of pumping of water must be back up facility. The system must not fail.
Step 4: Pond Construction
It is advisable to engage the service of a consultant. The success or failure of this project depends largely on construction of standard ponds that can stand the test of time.
Pond Design And Construction
One major consideration in designing a pond for catfish production is the flatness or steepness of the area and the source of water supply. For a generally flat area that has access to a well, a levee pond could be built. Watershed ponds are built for steeper areas near a natural source of water. The depth of the pond is also crucial as this influences the availability of oxygen for the fish. And so is the amount of fish per surface acre of water. Check catfish growing manuals for standards to adhere to.