Helpful Tips On How To Avoid Mortality And Cannibalism In Catfish Rearing

Helpful Tips On How To Avoid Mortality And Cannibalism In Catfish Rearing
Helpful Tips On How To Avoid Mortality And Cannibalism In Catfish Rearing

Mortality and cannibalism in catfish rearing is a serious issue that can quickly put a farmer out of business if not tackled or prevented.

In this article, we are going to discuss mortality and cannibalism in catfish farming, factors that cause them, and preventive measures to observe.

Catfish cultivation is simply the raising of catfish for consumption at the family level and/or for commercial purposes. However, most catfish farmers engage in the rearing of catfish for commercial purposes, hence why the issue of mortality and cannibalism in catfish farming is a major problem that must be avoided.

In the context of growing catfish, mortality is simply a measure of a high number of death of catfish in a given fish pond.

Mortality and cannibalism in catfish farming
A catfish

Cannibalism, on the other hand, is a situation whereby bigger or stronger catfishes feed on the smaller or weaker ones. Cannibalism occurs mostly between catfishes that are 3-4 weeks old (fingerlings) and catfishes that are 8 weeks old (juveniles) in a given fish pond.

Mortality and cannibalism in catfish farming are quite common and one can observe cannibalistic behaviour in catfishes as early as 1-2 weeks of cultivation. This is bound to happen if a farmer fails to sort the catfishes periodically.

So, is only natural for catfish farmers to dread mortality and cannibalism as it could lead to a great loss of their catfishes and eventual little or no profit.

Causes of Mortality and Cannibalism in Catfish Farming

There are a number of things that cause mortality and cannibalism in catfish farming, and they include the following:

Mortality Caused by Infections

Infections in catfishes are categorized into internal and external and are caused by causative agents such as bacteria, fungi, worms, and parasites.

Naturally, diseases can cause mortality in catfishes especially when factors such as the environment, feed, and water are not favourable. However, when these factors are favourable, they help prevent infections in catfishes.

Internal infections

These are infections that manifest via changes in behavioural patterns such as loss of appetite, internal ulcers and changes in swimming behaviour.

External infections

External infections are diseases such as cracked head, outward cancers, and skin afflictions.

Although prevention is better than cure when engaging in catfish farming, one can treat catfish diseases by using prescribed drugs, Formaldehyde (Formalin), and salt solution.

Mortality caused by pollution 

Water is said to be polluted when the amount of impurity in a water body increases significantly to the extent of affecting the wellbeing of the aquatic animals in such a water body. Catfish ponds can be polluted by several pollutants including waste feed. When there is a notable increase in the level of pond pollution, fishes begin to die. Water pollution is the number one cause of fish mortality.

This is because polluted water can encourage the growth of certain pathogens causing diseases. Hence, the importance of water quality management in catfish farming. Here are the sources of pond pollution.

Mortality and cannibalism in catfish farming
A typical fishpond

Pollution from flood

Flooding during intense rainfall can deposit foreign bodies and/or clay or sand into ponds. Also, water plants, herbicides, nitrates, and pesticides can be washed into ponds. These pollutants not only render the ponds turbid but also poisoned and unbearable to catfishes. This can lead to death.

Pollution from poisonous substances

This situation occurs when sources of water for fish ponds are not entirely safe from toxins. This can cause a high mortality rate of catfishes. Mostly, farmers upstream suffer from this menace as toxins are dumped upstream and get washed downstream to poor unsuspecting farmers. Moreover, certain foreign bodies or substances can make catfishes restless triggering cannibalistic tendencies, hence the issue of mortality and cannibalism in catfish farming.

Pollution from excess feed

Excess feed that is not consumed by catfishes remains in the pond as wastes which can lead to an increment in the level of ammonia and carbon dioxide in the pond. This change in the pond environment can cause mortality.

Mortality caused by feed

In catfish farming, this involves mortality caused largely by feed ingredients or feeding patterns. Hence we have:

Deficiency of vital ingredients in feed

Just as humans need vital classes of food to remain healthy likewise when engaging in catfish farming, catfishes need to have vital chemical substances in their feed to thrive well. Hence, feed formulation should include vital nutrients such as essential amino acids to protect them from diseases and unhealthy behaviours such as cannibalism.

The issue of feed or feeding is crucial because inappropriate feeding patterns can trigger a high rate of mortality and cannibalism in catfish farming.

Unhealthy floating feed

This is caused basically by certain feed manufacturers that don’t adhere to given standards by using ingredients with a high level of Aflatoxin. This feed could have adverse effects on catfishes thereby leading to their death.

Overfeeding

In catfish farming, catfish fingerlings and juveniles eat uncontrollably and tend to overfeed to the extent of developing health complications and eventual death. Mortality by overfeeding can simply be prevented by moderating the intake of feed ensuring that they don’t overfeed.

Mortality and cannibalism in catfish farming
Fish feed

Aflatoxin poisoning in catfish farming

Aflatoxin can be hazardous to catfishes, especially if it is found in high quantity in their feed.

Aflatoxin is a toxic chemical substance produced by a fungus residing in dead matter and soil. Aflatoxin contaminates grains, nuts, and other organic products when they are not dried appropriately or when they are not dried at the appropriate time.

Although in catfish farming, aflatoxin cannot be avoided, it can be minimized to the extent that poses less risk or harm to catfishes. However, due to the carelessness or dishonesty of some feed manufacturers, certain catfish feeds with high levels of Aflatoxin are found in the market where unsuspecting farmers buy and use to the detriment of their catfish farm.

Aflatoxin is highly detrimental to catfishes especially to the young ones that it causes adverse health conditions such as weakened immunity, liver complications, and eventual death.

One can identify feed ingredients contaminated with Aflatoxin through laboratory tests and observing for discoloration and molds. This will help to prevent the usage of contaminated feed ingredients.

Mortality and cannibalism in catfish farming
Catfishes in a bowl

Mortality Caused by Nature

Living organisms die natural deaths and catfishes are not an exception. So, sometimes, one may find some of one’s catfishes dead. It is no cause for alarm if there are cases of 1-3 mortalities in a 10,000 capacity of a catfish farm. However, it becomes a cause for alarm when the rate of mortality goes higher than 3 deaths.

Mortality and cannibalism in catfish farming can occur naturally because it is the law of nature for stronger members of a species to prey on weaker members. Thus, it is important to sort your catfishes periodically.

Furthermore, mortality and cannibalism in catfish farming can be caused by factors other than the aforementioned ones. These include the following:

Stress

Stress, being a state of unease or disturbance, can lead to mortality and cannibalism in catfish farming. Here are the different forms of stress:

Weather-induced stress: Sudden or drastic changes in weather conditions such as temperature, rain pattern, and so on can stress catfishes causing erratic behaviour that can trigger the issue of mortality and cannibalism in catfish farming.

Digestive stress: This is common with catfishes that are incubating or catfishes recovering from illness. Ideally, when catfishes are recovering, their feed intake should be cut by 60% then it should be increased gradually.
Harvest-induced stress: Mortality during harvest is a common occurrence. Some healthy catfishes do die during harvesting while some die when returned to a pond after harvesting.

Transfer stress: Catfishes tend to get stressed when they are transferred from one location to another. Attempting to feed them during transportation or immediately after can stress them to death.

Poorly prepared and stocked fishpond  

This is one major cause of high mortality and cannibalism in catfish farming. Stocking catfishes of varying sizes can cause cannibalism hence resulting in mortality. Also, mixing different species of fish in a fishpond can cause mortality because certain species can feed on others.

Summary

Mortality and cannibalism in catfish farming is one serious issue that must be put in mind when running a catfish farm or planning to start a catfish farm. In avoiding the problem of mortality and cannibalism in catfish farming preventive measures must be taken to ensure that there are no loose ends.

Helpful Tips On How To Avoid Mortality And Cannibalism In Catfish Rearing
Helpful Tips On How To Avoid Mortality And Cannibalism In Catfish Rearing

Catfish farming is quite lucrative but cannibalism and mortality can make it a nightmare if not managed properly or when the aforementioned preventive measures in this article are not observed.

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