Catfish farming guide for beginners

Catfish are cold-hardy fish that can survive in any region and they are easy to farm, especially in warm climates. Raising catfish in tanks and channels is considered to be the safest method as their waste and diseases do not spread to the wild. Catfish farming is very lucrative because of the low cost and the fact that these fish gain weight in a short period of time. There are many varieties of catfish available across the globe. The size of these catfish depends on the species and can range from small size to very large size. However, in India, the African catfish is a major breeding species among all other species. Commercial and small scale catfish farming business is becoming more and more popular day by day. If you are interested in fish farming, you can keep fish even in a small tank at home.

Pond options for catfish farming

Choosing the right pond for a successful catfish farming business is a very important factor before starting a commercial fish farming operation. When building a new pond or utilizing an existing pond, consider the following factors.

  • Make sure to choose or build a pond that is in an open area with direct contact with sunlight.
  • Make sure you choose an area that is not subject to flooding.
  • Make sure that the pond is surrounded by a solid shoreline and is free of various holes and crevices.
  • Be sure to check the pond regularly for holes, otherwise most of the fish will escape through these holes.
  • Rather build a rectangular pond than a square pond.
  • During the rainy season, the water should not be deeper than 4-5 feet.
  • Make sure that any wildlife is kept away from the pond.

Machines For Making Fish Feed

Fish feed extruder is a necessary equipment for small and medium-sized fish farms and fish feed processing plants. Through the fish feed extruder we can use cheap local raw materials to produce high-quality feed according to the nutritional needs of fish, which may save your feed breeding costs.

Pond Management

Catfish can be farmed in both new and old ponds. However, if you use an old pond for catfish farming, you will get better results. If a new pond is to be used, fertilizer such as manure and lime will be used. Fertilizing after building the pond will make the soil fertile. If the soil of the pond is not fertile, it will affect the health and proper growth of the fish. If the pond is in an old pond, dry the pond completely before stocking the catfish. Remove excessive soil and harmful gases before stocking. Apply fertilizer such as lime afterwards. Cover a certain area on the pond where the first stocking of small fish takes place. Covering the area with a net will protect the fish from some harmful predators like frogs and snakes. Snakes are much more harmful than frogs. After making the fence, fill the pond with fresh water (2-3 feet deep for the first stocking). Fill the pond for 2 to 3 days and stock it with small fish.

Catfish fry and their density

Select quality catfish fry (small fish) of 2 to 3 inches in size from the fish farm. Selecting small, high-quality, disease-free, high-yielding catfish is essential for successful catfish farming. Stock the fry in the pond for 3 days and then spray the pond with antifungal medication to prevent any diseases.

Well, ponds can be stocked with catfish alone or together with other carp. When catfish are raised with other carp, then the recommended fish stocking density is around 2500 to 3000 fish/acre pond. If you plan to stock catfish only, then the density can be as high as 4000/acre pond. Mixed stocking will reduce feed costs. Therefore, mixing catfish with carp and tilapia will reduce feed costs. Since catfish are a good bottom feeder, the feed provided to the carp will be consumed by the bottom catfish and will not be wasted, except for normal feeding. The main benefit of mixing catfish and carp is that it reduces the amount of ammonia in the pond and ensures a healthy environment for all fish species in the pond.

Feed Management

Provide 20% of the feed daily for the first 10 days depending on the weight of the stocked fish. Usually catfish minnows prefer to feed at night. So provide them with feed twice a day. After the first 10 days, reduce the feed rate to 12 to 15 percent. When the catfish grow to about 3 inches, start feeding during the day. After 1 month of stocking, feed 5 percent of the feed daily, depending on the catfish’s weight. When measuring the average weight of catfish, measure the total weight of 10 fish and divide the total weight by 10. e.g., if the total weight of 10 catfish is 2 kg, divide the result by 10. now the average weight of one catfish is 200 grams. Measure the average weight of the catfish after some time and feed them according to the average weight. Feed twice a day (once in the morning and once in the evening). It is important to provide enough feed according to the age and weight of the fish. If you provide catfish with less feed than their daily needs, they will not be able to live and grow properly. And if you provide more feed than they need, the extra food will contaminate the water and increase feeding costs.

Fish health and water quality

I always try to maintain a healthy pond environment because it is easier and cheaper to manage a safe environment than to manage a disease outbreak. If the water quality is good and the pond is not crowded, the fish grow better, reproduce more efficiently, and have a higher survival rate. Also, a running water system is best recommended when maintaining clean, quality water. I always make sure that I keep my pond’s pH between 6.5 and 9.0. If the pH is below 6.5 and the total alkalinity and hardness is below 10 ppm, I apply limestone to the pond. I always check for dissolved oxygen and impurities. A successful farm requires a dissolved oxygen concentration of 5 ppm or higher. When you maintain a healthy farming environment, your fish will develop a stronger immune system that can fight or withstand minor disease exposures and stresses. Maintaining the health and water quality of your fish is key to profitability.

Dry Season Catfish Care

  • With constant water changes, the pool water quickly becomes dirty as the residual sediment is not eaten by the catfish during the dry season. If the water is not changed it can create a very pungent odor that can affect the catfish’s health.
  • To overcome the water change if it is really difficult, you can use probiotics that will speed up the decomposition of catfish debris and reduce the smell of the catfish pond water.
  • To overcome the heat in your catfish pond during the day, install a 3/4 or 1/2 shun net in your catfish pond.
  • Do not overfeed the catfish, and stop feeding immediately if the catfish have been slacking off on food.
  • For adding water it is recommended to do it at night or in the morning as the temperature is more stable in the morning/evening.
  • Open the lid of the pool in the morning so you can ventilate.
  • If you see sick catfish, treat them immediately to prevent infection and hang/disease catfish can be netted and isolated and kept in separate ponds.
  • If you see some dead catfish floating in the water, take them away immediately to prevent water quality from deteriorating.


Winter is not good for catfish farming. During this season, various diseases can affect the growth of catfish. So special care should be taken during this season. Change the water regularly, usually every 15 days.

Apply an antifungal medication after every other month. Keep the water depth to 2 feet or less. If you notice an ammonia overgrowth, use Ganonex (a medication that is often used to remove ammonia).

Catfish harvest

You can use a net when collecting fish from the pond. However, it is very difficult to collect catfish from a pond with a net. You can use a net to collect a few catfish. But if you want to collect all the fish at once, you have to pump the water out of the pond. Always collect fish in the morning or afternoon. Never collect catfish when it is too sunny outside. This is because collecting catfish on a day when the sun is too strong will destroy the fish and reduce the turnover in the fish market.

Catfish have a high demand and price in the market. Almost all types of people like to have catfish dishes on their dinner table. Catfish also has medicinal properties and is very suitable for patients. Therefore, doctors would advise their patients to eat catfish. However, catfish farming is a very suitable way of earning income while working at your existing job. It is also an important source for meeting the daily nutritional needs of the family. The average one-acre pond can produce about 4 tons of catfish (with proper care and management) in 10 months.