How to Raise Catfish in a Barrel

Catfish is a rich fish species that can thrive without much care and maintenance. This is one of the reasons why they are the perfect choice for backyard fish farming. The meat of catfish is also very delicious, rich in nutrients, and easy to make. Let’s take a look at a simple method. You can raise your own catfish in a 55-gallon barrel with minimal expense, equipment or expertise.

Prepare barrel

The first step is to make a hole near the bottom of the barrel, which can be used as a drain. The edges of the barrel are round and tapered, and barrels leading from the side to the bottom are ideal. You can easily install a plug or valve and plug at the bottom of the cone. This is the perfect location for the drainage system because it will capture and discharge most of the waste that accumulates near the bottom of the tank.

You can choose the diameter of the hole according to your requirements, but remember that smaller holes will take longer to drain. They will also become blocked as fragments escape. Consider making the hole at least half an inch in diameter. Install the valve assembly or drain plug in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. Use some special marine-grade sealant to seal it on the barrel to reduce leakage or accidental drainage.

Filter and pump

It is strongly recommended that you buy a small aquarium pump and filter, and install it on the barrel as well. You will most likely need to drill two holes, one for the water inlet and the other for the drain. Although you can use a small pump to pass a tube and you insist on aerating the water through the surface, a good pump and filter will introduce more oxygen into the system and also help remove waste from the water. However, this is not absolutely necessary. However, you will need a small pump to introduce oxygen in the water.

If you are not using a filtration system, you should drain and replace the water in the barrel every day. Make sure you install a screen inside the drain pipe to prevent fry and small fish from coming out of the barrel. If you are using a filter, please clean the filter every day and drain water as needed. Remember, fish will produce a lot of waste. For the overall health and growth of the fish, keeping the water clean is vital. Doing so will also help ensure that you get the best fish.

Preparation area

It is best to store the wooden barrel in a moderately cool, well-drained place in the yard. The ground should also be level and stable. Use 2×4 wood chips to make a simple base and place the barrel on it. Also, consider where you want to drain the water so that the barrel will be in the most ideal position.

Fill the barrel

Make sure the faucet, valve or stopper is sealed, then pour ordinary tap water or hose water into the barrel. Fill it until the water is between 6-8 inches from the top of the barrel. This space will help minimize the chance of catfish jumping out of the barrel and the ground below. Let the water rest overnight to allow the chlorine to evaporate and the temperature to stabilize.

Remember, catfish like warm water, and when the water temperature is between 70-80 degrees, they will grow quickly. They can also grow in cold water, but due to a slower metabolism, they will grow more slowly and eat less.

The catfish can be added when the water is ready. It is best to fill a barrel of water from the barrel and add a few hands of fish at a time. Let them rest in the barrel for about an hour to adapt to the water environment. Transfer the fish from the barrel to the barrel and repeat the process. If you like, you can use more barrels to speed up the progress.

This barrel should be big enough to hold about 40 small fish or fry.


There is no general rule of thumb when it comes to feeding catfish. They need more food when they grow up, but what you feed them is up to you. Remember that you will eat catfish food, so the selected items will also be good for you. As long as it contains natural ingredients, commercial fish feed is perfectly fine. However, you can also use food scraps, insects, bugs and grubs as food.

You really can’t overfeed catfish, they usually stop eating when they are full. Try to use nets to remove excess food to maintain a high water quality level. Looking forward to some trial and error to get the right amount, you can feed them twice a day.

Once the catfish stops growing in the barrel, it can be harvested. You can also move the fish to a larger aquarium or pond so that they can also grow bigger. In any case, as long as the fish can survive and grow, you can expect to get about 60 pounds of meat from each barrel. Clean the water regularly and make sure to feed them enough food every day.

This simple fish tank system can produce enough catfish to sustain you for a whole year. Give it a try and see how this will greatly improve your food security if we eventually leave the grid.