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).
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.
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.
The LSU AgCenter and the LSU College of Agriculture