Channel catfish, Ictalurus punctatus (Rafinesque), is the most important species of aquatic animal commercially cultured in the United States.
The commercial production of catfish in the United States has increased at a phenomenal rate in the last three decades. By 1997, channel catfish culture was the largest aquaculture industry in the United States, with catfish production representing 72 percent (by weight) and 55 percent (by value) of the entire industry (U.S. Joint Subcommittee on Aquaculture 1999).
During the summer and early fall, it is not unusual for fish kills to occur in commercial ponds under uncertain circumstances.
This list is comprised of contact information for catfish experts within the LSU Agricultural Center and the LSU - Baton Rouge campus.
It is important to purchase the best available catfish fingerlings when stocking commercial production ponds. Poor quality can result in delayed harvesting, underestimated stocking weights and disease transmission to fish already present in the pond. Fingerling quality is judged on grading, strain, health, and the supplier's reliability.
Proper design and construction of ponds is critical to the success of a commercial catfish operation. Well-designed ponds, constructed on soil with proper clay content and adequate water supply, have a useful life of at least 10 years.
Considerable thought and planning should go into selecting sites for commercial fish production ponds. Construction costs, ease and cost of operation, and productivity can be greatly affected by the site selected.
To reduce losses caused by hungry birds, aquaculture farmers spend as much as $100,000 a year on abatement programs. Now, two LSU AgCenter agricultural engineers have developed robotic boats to keep these predators out of commercial ponds.
Heavy rainfall and winter feeding tend to add up to conditions that can lead to brown blood disease in the spring. Brown blood is caused by the buildup of nitrates in ponds, which produces a result similar to carbon monoxide poisoning.
Although many catfish producers rely on commercial hatcheries for fingerlings, onsite fingerling production is an important part of many operations. The tips below address channel catfish fry production in the hatchery and managing ponds for rearing fry into fingerlings.