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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

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5-7" Fingerling Channel Catfish

These fish are one year old and ready for stocking into a food-fish production pond or into a stocker pond if using a modular system.


The "sock saver" (center front in the photo) being used during a commercial pond harvest.  The tanks (Dewars) hold liquid oxygen or LOX which is supplied to diffusers in the sock holding the fish through the green lines.  This can increase the dissolved oxygen by one part per million resulting in greater survival to the plant as well as improved product quality.



Fingerling channel catfish being loaded on a transport truck for delivery/stocking in another pond.

Fingerlings being loaded onto trucks for transport

Eggs being hand-stripped from a female channel catfish. A blue catfish sperm solution will be added to produce a hybrid channel X blue catfish. This hybrid has several apparent advantages over pure channel catfish and are bring studied by scientists at the CGRU.

Eggs being hand-stripped

Catfish spawn in cavities in nature. In commercial production we place spawning containers (to the right in the photo) in ponds containing catfish broodstock, and periodically check them, removing any egg masses we find.   The egg mass being held by this scientist will be placed in the bucket of disinfectant prior to delivery to the hatchery.


Egg mass

3-5" Fingerling Channel Catfish

This is about the smallest size of fingerling that will be stocked into stocker or food-fish ponds. 


When catfish eggs hatch, the "sac fry" are heavier than water and will sink to the bottom. In commercial hatcheries a siphon hose is often used to transfer them from hatching troughs to rearing troughs.


sac fry


Channel catfish are fed a high-quality floating feed in grow-out ponds. Use of a floating feed allows the farmer to visually inspect his crop on a daily basis.


Grow-out pond


10-HP electric paddlewheel aerators are the standard for the industry.  The aerators in this photo are arranged using new recommendations by scientists in the CGRU.



As sac fry develop, they absorb the yolk sack, turn dark, and begin to swim up searching for food.  These swim-up fry are nearly ready to stock out into 5010 acre fry ponds for growth into fingerlings.

 Development of sac fry

Channel X blue hybrid catfish appear similar to pure channel catfish but may prove to be an overall better fish to rear commercially.  These market-size fish were produced in only 18 months from egg.

 Market-size fish

By counting the opaque glass pellets visible in x-rayed catfish, scientists can calculate the amount of feed the fish have consumed.


x-rayed catfish


A channel catfish with small bumps and inflammation on its tailfin, which indicate the presence of Bolbophorus flatworms beneath the skin.



Last Modified: 4/5/2010