Harvesting Catfish For The Right Market

Harvesting Catfish For The Right Market
Harvesting Catfish For The Right Market

When harvesting catfish, do you contemplate if it’s the right size or not?

Do your customers complain that your catfish specie or size is not good and profitable enough for their business? Well, lets try and see how that can be overcomed!

How do you know when your caftish is matured enough for harvest? Forget the stereotyped response or the when its head is big enough.

There are tricks to knowing when your catfish are ready for harvest.

Have you ever eaten a catfish and you feel it’s too tender with a funny taste or not matured enough?

Have you ever prepared a catfish peppersoup and the fish keeps tearing apart making a mess?

As a food business owner, how do you know the size of catfish that can yield huge profits regularly without too much stress?

You would not like to buy catfish at exorbitant rate and still make insignificant profit.

Harvesting Catfish For The Right Market
Different Sizes Of Catfish

These experiences in the behaviour of catfish during preparation can go a long way in making or marring your catfish business as a catfish farmer or catfish business entrepreneur.

It is not totally your fault; I didn’t know these too when my dad was rearing catfish either.

As a catfish farmer, the first question you need to answer is ‘who are your target market?’, the answer to this question will help determine when to harvest your catfish: size not withstanding.

Catfish is farmed for various reasons and for various markets.

The size a pepper soup joint would request for is different from what a barbecue vendor would buy likewise people interested in the dried product.

Catfish are a diverse group of ray-finned fish named for their barbels which resembles cat whiskers.

They range in sizes and species with the larger species farmed for food.

Harvesting Catfish For The Right Market
Stripped Eel Catfish

Catfish are generally non poisonous although they can sting therefore care has to be taken when handling them.

The striped eel catfish have been discovered to be capable of killing humans in rare cases.

Harvesting Catfish For The Right Market

The time estimate given is for the smallest fish in the pond because just like humans, the fishes will not reach maturity at the same time despite growing under the same conditions.

It is therefore very possible that some fishes would have attained these sizes before the time stated: it is important to sort the fishes in the ponds accordingly.

Harvesting Catfish For Hatchers

These are the catfish farmers who are interested in hatching catfish eggs and producing juveniles and fingerlings.

They buy catfish broodstock; the broodstock is catfish that is older than twelve months.

They mate the male and female broodstock artificially, hatch the eggs and sell as fingerlings and or juveniles.

This means their own catfish is mature for sale between four to six weeks as fingerlings and about two months as juvenile.

Harvesting Catfish For The Right Market
Juvenile Catfish

The hatchers cannot buy catfish that is younger than twelve months so they are not your target market or consumers when you harvest before one year.

Harvesting Catfish For Melange Rearers

The Melange farmers are those that buy the fingerlings or juveniles from the hatchers and rear them to melange; catfish weighing between 200g to 500g.

They can resell once they reach this weight to the smoked fish sellers especially the Northern Hausa traders.

Harvesting Catfish For The Right Market
Melange Sized Smoked Catfish

The melange fishes are mostly preferred to be smoke dried because of their small sizes which encourage the heat to be uniform and well dried.

So catfish farmers in the melange category sell out their catfish between 3 months after getting them as juveniles for the right size and the right market.

If the fish is bigger and up to the table size for whatever reason, they would sell to pepper soup joints if they do not want to sell at a loss.

Harvesting Catfish For Food Businesses

Food businesses are the major customers or consumers of catfish and usually the reason why more people are interested in catfish farming.

They don’t usually mind how much you sell to them as long as the catfish is big enough and can give them a huge profit margin, they will buy!

One notable and interesting fact about harvesting catfish for food businesses is that you can rear them to any size of your choice because there will always be food vendors, restaurants, barbecue spots, hotels that will prefer the bigger or biggest size.

The bigger the catfish, the higher they charge their customers.

Barbecue Catfish With Chips
Barbecue Catfish

There is a slight difference in the food business category though, the pepper soup joints do not go for extremely big fish because they favour regular little profits than occasional huge profits as can be observed in hotels and fine dinings.

The size of the catfish that an event caterer would buy for event menu would be dependent on the clientele and caliber of the guest list.

Some prefers having big catfish head glarring at them while some wcan make do with just a slightly bigger than melange catfish.

The customer would therefore determine when you can harvest your catfish: market women, pepper soup joints, restaurants, fine dinings, hotels, barbecue spots among others.

Harvesting Catfish For The Right Market
Catfish Pepper Soup

The sizes of fish in these category starts from 1kg upwards although a smaller (shorter) catfish with a higher weight would not be preferred like a longer catfish of about the same weight.

This can be achieved in 5 months to reach table size and more depending on your preferred customers.

Harvesting Catfish For Other Markets

The term other markets include motorists, interstate travellers, traditional events etc.

These are customers that are interested in buying big sized catfish for reasons that can range from trying to make a statement or just for the fun of buying a big catfish.

These sizes are not less than 2kg; the bigger the catfish, the better and faster you are likely to sell them. Reaching this weight can be as much as 8 months and even more.

Harvesting Catfish For The Right Market
Different Sizes Of Catfish

For those that would sell these big sized catfish as dried end products, they make more sales especially if the fishes are well prepared and still fresh as it can be tasking getting the fishes dried enough to last for months without growing moth.

Harvesting Catfish For International Market

This requires more attention to details including the health status of the catfish.

You cannot afford to sell infected catfish to an international client or an expatriate; you don’t want to face the law.

The international demand for catfish is high and profitable especially if the fishes are well processed and preserved to last for months.

The packages that can be used is also different than inbound sales.

Harvesting Catfish For The Right Market
Smoked Catfish For Export

Harvesting catfish for this market means having your facts and clients right. The melange sizes are preferable although there are technology that can help dry bigger sizes without issues.


Harvesting catfish is highly determined by the market preference for catfish sizes.

The end product of the catfish will determine when it is best to harvest.

Harvesting catfish can be done as early 2 weeks after hatching to as long as when you reach your desired market size which can even be ten months!

Harvesting Catfish For The Right Market
Harvesting Catfish For The Right Market

If you are thinking of starting catfish farming business, it is important to know your target customers in order to know when they are ready for harvesting.

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