Influence Of Water Quality Management In Catfish Rearing

Water Quality Management In Catfish Rearing

Just as we humans manage our environments and homes, the water in your fish pond must be managed too, as lack of adequate water quality management in catfish rearing can sign up for gross losses.

This is so because water is the home of every fish, in this case, your catfish.

Water quality management in fish rearing has to do with monitoring the pond water pH, Nitrite, Nitrate, Oxygen levels, and Ammonia (NH4).

As a fish farmer, you must pay close attention to your pond water quality, as the growth rate and survival rate of your fish greatly depends on it regardless of the types of ponds in use or available.

Water Quality Management In Catfish Rearing

Determining the catfish performance in several types of ponds can for surety be a hectic task, especially when such farmer or fish farm manager lacks insights on how water parameters affect catfish behaviour.

This is to say that you can actually be feeding your fish well or using a well designed and constructed pond, fish seeds stocked with the right quantity and still record “unforgivable” losses due to little or no knowledge of fish water chemistry/management.

I used the term “unforgivable” because such losses are avoidable.

Unlike every other animals, catfish do feed and defecate in the same water or pond where they dwell. *without being sorry, winks*

The quality of water in fish pond greatly influences the fish growth rate, feed and feeding efficiency, health status, and at last, the survival rate catfish.

To explain further, catfish would find it difficult to go about their normal life activities (such as proper conversion of feed intake) when the water quality of the pond or any other fish enclosure depreciates.

This could result in death of catfish, if swift actions are not taken.

Basic Water Quality Management Parameters In Catfish Rearing

The following below are the primary water quality parameters to be monitored in catfish production

  1. pH (known as Potential Of Hydrogen)
  2. Dissolved oxygen (D.O)
  3. Temperature of the pond water
  4. Ammonia (NH4) concentration in the pond water.

However, these parameters can change anytime due to the dynamics within the several types of ponds.

Lets discuss them one after the other, shall we?

1. pH [potential of hydrogen] of Fish Pond Water:

pH refers to the level of the Hydrogen ion available in water.

In catfish farming, the acceptable pH value of pond water ranges from 6.5 – 7.5. Please, note that your catfish will eventually die if the water pH goes below 4 (death caused by water acidity).

Trust me, you wouldn’t want to experience this.

On the other hand, when pH continuously range from 4 to 6, catfish will survive, but with a slow growth rate as a result of stress.

In addition, the catfish feed intake will be greatly staggered, minimized, and the food conversion ratio will also be very high.

If you are one of those fish farmers that pay attention to details, you would notice that a low pH in pond water shows an indication of high carbon dioxide [CO2] in pond water.

Also, catfish growth retardation may occur when there are high pH values ranging from 9 – 11 in the catfish pond water.


What Happens When pH Rises Above 11 In A Catfish Pond?

The catfish eventually dies!

Inasmuch as a Low pH has disadvantages, it also enables higher proportions of ionized ammonia (proven to be less toxic to catfish).

And with a high pH in water, reverse is the case.

2. Dissolved Oxygen [D.O] in Catfish Pond Water

It is very necessary to monitor the level of dissolved oxygen (D.O) in our various types of ponds.

A dissolved oxygen level of about 4mg per litre to saturation levels in the pond/hatchery is ideal for the African catfish.

What Is A Gas Bubble disease?

This is a disease that occurs in catfish or even the fries when the dissolved oxygen levels are often too high with the water supersaturated above 300 percent (%).

However, catfish or fries will survive a Dissolved Oxygen level of about 1.5mg per litre to 5mg per litre, though their feed intake will fall

More so, there would be a reduction in growth rate of the catfish growth rate with a record of high Feed Conversion Ratios (FCR).

Fish can get stressed which could lead to death when the Dissolved Oxygen (DO) falls below 1.5mg per litre.

What does this imply?

This simply means that the time expected to obtain the desired weight of catfish would be extended, thereby leading to loss of agribusiness investment.

The truth remains that the use of low-quality feed will become a waste of money and other resources if you constantly have low a Dissolved Oxygen level in your ponds, as catfish greatly depend on oxygen for general body function.

There is need for your water to contain sufficient level of Dissolved Oxygen so as to break down threats or harmful metabolic waste into less harmful structures [for instance, ammonia (NH3) broken down to nitrites (NO2) which furthers down to nitrates (NO3)].

3. Temperature Of The Catfish Pond:

The metabolism that occurs in the body of Catfish is greatly determined by the temperature of its aqua-environment.

Of course, you should know that catfish is a cold-blooded aquatic vertebrate animal.

An acceptable temperature for an African catfish is between 26ºC to 32ºC.

However, the rate at which Feed is taken and growth occurs will drastically fall when the temperature in the pond water constantly pegs between 16ºC and 26ºC.

With such temperature range, grow-out farmer will record a high FCR, with the fish being stressed –of which when prolonged, could result in catfish opportunistic infections.


Catfish would have their growth permanently halt which would lead to death when often exposed to temperatures below 15ºC, as temperatures too low have adverse affects on the rates at which wastes are recycled into water.

4. Ammonia (NH4) Concentration in Pond Water:

Ammonia can be very disastrous to fish when left to settle in fish pond water.

Fish would lack the ability to efficiently obtain energy from feed as soon as ammonia gathers to harmful levels.

Fish tend to be either inactive or slow (with death inevitable) when the ammonia concentration rapidly increases.

Well, fatal accumulation of ammonia rarely happens in a well managed fish pond.


Being indifferent about the water quality management of your fish pond would cost you a lot.

You must pay serious attention to the quality of water in your catfish pond, as those water parameters mentioned have a core role to play in the entire agribusiness of profitable fish rearing.

Catfish rearing is far beyond serving feed to your catfish, just as you monitor your home as man, you must ensure there is water quality control for your fish.

Lack of quality water for your catfish rearing is a risk you wouldn’t want take if you begin experiencing the consequences.

Water Quality Management In Catfish Rearing

If you learnt something new, please help us share this to your farmer friends or friends intending to go into catfish production.

You’ve got a question? Please, feel free to ask on the comment section.

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