SUTTLE FISH FARM
16 SHORTY SMITH ROAD
LAUREL, MS 39443
601-425-4480
sales@suttlefish.com

 
Raising Catfish
By Dan Suttle

Raising catfish can be fun and exciting for the whole family! Your kids will come see you more often. All your grand kids will talk about is going fishing and your neighbor will love you or hate you.  It can be a very expensive experience if you don’t follow a few basic rules.


Rule One
Don’t over stock

Catfish can be stocked at 1500 fish per surface acre for non-commercial ponds.  A pond stocked at 1500 fish per acre could produce about 1500 pounds of catfish ready at one time! That’s a lot of catfish!  I don’t know any person or family that can eat that many catfish in a year. Have a plan. Let me suggest this. Stock 100 catfish per family member. Add 200 extra fish in case you have a good neighbor or two.  Add 200 more catfish if another family will be fishing the pond. A family of four with a good neighbor and a good son in law or daughter in law could use a pond stocked with 800 catfish per acre. When you fish out half of the fish buy more.


Rule two
Feed like hogs

Catfish convert feed at an average yield of about 1 pound of fish for every 2 pounds of feed. Feed them like hogs. If you have the time feed twice a day. Keep their gut full. Feed them as much as they can consume in 15 to 30 min.  Do not over feed.  Feed is money. Feed the fish in the morning around 8 a.m. At this time dissolved oxygen levels have started to rise and no later than mid afternoon around 3 P.M. to allow for digestion during periods of low oxygen. Use floating catfish feed. This type of feed remains at the surface for considerable periods of time and is not subject to loss in mud on the bottom as is sinking feed. Sinking feeds represent a small percentage of feed fed to catfish. Feed consumption by catfish is directly related to water temperature. A 32 percent protein floating feed is fed to large fingerlings to harvest (six inches an up). As the water temperature drops, consumption declines. Feeding is inconsistent below about 70 °F and, although catfish feed at temperatures as low as 50 °F, consumption is greatly reduced.


Winter Feeding Methods
Water Temperature / Feeding Frequency

45 degrees and lower-- Feed every 10 days
45 -50 degrees-- Feed once a week
51-55 degrees-- Feed twice a week
56-60 degrees-- Feed every other day
66 degrees and up-- Feed every day

Winter feeding can also produce healthier fish which are more resistant to winter kill and spring diseases. I would highly recommend adding fathead minnows at a rate of 1000 fathead minnows per 500 catfish. This will help on your feed bill. They will consume any feed you will have left if you over feed. They will reproduce heavy and prove forage for your fish. Even during the winter,  catfish will feed when they are hungry. However, catfish do not become hungry as quickly during colder months because of their slowed metabolism. Winter feeding can result in gains from 5 to 20 percent in body weight.


Rule Three
Don’t stock catfish with other fish

It is very important to keep all bream out of your catfish pond. This will save you money on your feed bill and it could prevent low oxygen problems. If you want to have a good catfish pond, stock only with catfish. A pond produces only so much oxygen for your fish.


Rule four
Use Common Sense

Diseases

Catfish will eat like hogs. If they stop or slow down something is wrong. Think Diseases! There can be a lot of other things wrong but diseases can kill a lot of fish quick. If in doubt seek help quick. That's my advice to you. Diseases and parasites are numerous and complicated. There are no quick explanations about diseases. A fish biologist spends years studying diseases. I will say there are two types of medicated feeds available for use in treating bacterial diseases in catfish: Terramycin® and Romet®.  Check with the place you buy your feed and see if they carry these two types of medicated feeds. If not ask if they can order it for you and how long it would take to get it. When catfish get sick they stop feeding and your medication is in your feed. Medicated feed only has so many days of shelf life so it cannot be stored over long periods of time.
Rule Five
Don't brag

I have seen more people get in trouble by showing someone how big your fish are or how they feed. They all want to go fishing.  Friends and neighbors just don’t understand how much money you have in your catfish. Add $100 for fish, add 60 cents per pound, and add $1500 for the pond to be built, add your time and labor, your fish cost up to $50.00 a pound!  You let them fish and give them 10 pounds. They just walked off with $500.00.  Boy, you are a good neighbor. Believe me they will want to come back for more and bring their friends. This time they leave with 25 pounds of fish and they will call you every week to go fishing. If you let one neighbor go fishing you better let all your neighbors go. Or you will be known as Mr. Scrooge in your neighborhood. What I suggest is that you go fishing, have fun, and catch as many fish as you need for a good fish fry. Call all your friends and neighbors and lie, lie like a dog.  Don't tell any one you paid $50.00 a pound for catfish. No one has ever called me and said we coming over Saturday. I'm bringing my friends and family and we having fish, your fish, and your cooking. I love you Daddy, see you Saturday.


Rule Six
How to train your fish on feed

Catfish will take man made feed very easy. Place a flowing ring in the pond  big enough to hold your feed.  This ring can be made out pvc or wood or any thing that floats. This allows your feed to stay in one place ( keeps the wind from blowing the feed on the bank ) your fish can find the feed and know where to go to feed.  Place this ring in at less 3 feet of water.  Once your fish start to feed, this ring can be removed.  Catfish are added normally in the winter time when the water temperature is below 60 degrees. Their feeding habits are erratic during this time. By adding this ring it will let you start feeding quicker and save you money on your feed bill.


Rules seven
The Don't list
  • Don't fertilize a catfish pond.
  • Don't over feed.
  • Don't let your catfish reproduce in your pond; Fish them out otherwise you will be feeding too many.
  •  Don't raise catfish and bream together.

 
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