Catfish industry embraces USDA pond management research

January 27, 2014 by Sandra Avant
ARS scientists have calculated the dissolved oxygen level that catfish need for growth, giving producers an objective management measure rather than having to rely on when the fish are observed at the surface in distress. Credit: David Nance.

The aquaculture industry is taking notice of U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) research that gives the precise levels of dissolved oxygen needed to keep pond-raised catfish alive and growing.

Traditionally, fish farmers relied on daily observations to determine if fish were getting enough . If farmers saw fish sucking air at the water surface, they turned on aeration equipment. If no fish were seen, it was assumed that enough oxygen was being provided.

Les Torrans, a fish biologist in the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Warmwater Aquaculture Research Unit in Stoneville, Miss., pinpointed the concentrations needed to keep fish alive and growing. ARS is USDA's principal intramural scientific research agency.

Dissolved oxygen is the most critical water quality factor in aquaculture. If oxygen gets too low, fish can die or become partially asphyxiated. Lack of air causes fish to lose their appetite. When they eat less, they do not grow as quickly. As a result, instead of fish reaching market size in two years, it may take four to five years.

Torrans, together with his ARS and Mississippi State University colleagues at the Thad Cochran National Warmwater Aquaculture Center in Stoneville, studied the effects of dissolved on catfish growth, yield, food consumption and feed conversion.

An oxygen monitoring system was used to maintain precise minimum dissolved oxygen setpoints—3.0, 2.0 and 1.5 parts per million (ppm). Results showed that the minimum dissolved oxygen concentration for optimum production is 2.5 to 3.0 ppm. At this level, catfish growth significantly improved, fewer fish died, feed conversion improved and the production cycle was shorter.

Farmers who use good oxygen management practices can double the growth rate of fish, according to Torrans. The exact amount of aeration needed to maximize food intake, growth and production is now available.

Explore further: Breeding hybrid catfish

More information: Read more about this research in the November/December 2013 issue of Agricultural Research magazine.

Related Stories

Breeding hybrid catfish

December 6, 2013

In the catfish industry, it's well-known that hybrid catfish—a cross of the channel catfish with the blue catfish—generally have better growth, higher survival rates and better meat yield than purebred channel catfish. ...

Helping fish get rid of the 'Ich'

October 28, 2010

Copper sulfate has emerged as an effective treatment for Ichthyophthirius multifiliis, also known as "Ich," a protozoan parasite that appears as white spots on infected fish, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture ...

Understanding oxygen depletion on the Oregon coastal shelf

October 9, 2013

Each spring, the winds off Oregon shift, changing ocean currents and spurring the onset of the upwelling season, an approximately 4 month period where cold, nutrient-rich, oxygen-depleted deep water is driven into the coastal ...

Nevada marina deemed safe despite 100K fish kill

January 19, 2014

Though testing is incomplete, state officials say they're convinced a Nevada marina where an estimated 100,000 trout, bass and catfish died poses no danger to humans or animals.

Recommended for you

Protein disrupts infectious biofilms

December 8, 2016

Many infectious pathogens are difficult to treat because they develop into biofilms, layers of metabolically active but slowly growing bacteria embedded in a protective layer of slime, which are inherently more resistant ...

An anti-CRISPR for gene editing

December 8, 2016

Researchers have discovered a way to program cells to inhibit CRISPR-Cas9 activity. "Anti-CRISPR" proteins had previously been isolated from viruses that infect bacteria, but now University of Toronto and University of Massachusetts ...

The song of silence

December 8, 2016

Like humans learning to speak, juvenile birds learn to sing by mimicking vocalizations of adults of the same species during development. Juvenile birds preferentially learn the song of their own species, even in noisy environments ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.