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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: IMPROVING PRODUCTION EFFICIENCY IN WARM WATER AQUACULTURE THROUGH WATER QUALITY MANAGEMENT

Location: Warmwater Aquaculture Research Unit

Title: In-pond raceway systems and catfish disease related cases in west Alabama

Authors
item Roy, Luke -
item Hemstreet, William -
item Brown, Travis

Submitted to: Catfish Farmers of Arkansas
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: December 20, 2013
Publication Date: N/A

Technical Abstract: Production systems such as in-pond raceway systems (IPRS) and split-pond production systems are providing an alternative to traditional pond culture for raising catfish. Currently, there are over 1,300 water acres of production in Mississippi, Arkansas, and Alabama utilizing split-pond production systems or IPRS. Despite the acceptance of these alternative culture technologies by a growing number of farmers there is still little data available on disease and parasite issues encountered by farmers raising fish in these systems. Farmers that are interested in potentially investing in these alternative culture systems are curious as to what disease problems are being encountered. This study summarizes some of the diseases that farmers have dealt with raising catfish in IPRS. The Alabama Fish Farming Center (AFFC) provides aquatic diagnostic laboratory services to commercial fish farmers in west Alabama. Incidences of disease have been tracked since the original construction and subsequent use of the first commercial IPRS in west Alabama located at Dean Wilson Farms in 2008. From 2008 to September 2013, the AFFC received a total of 79 producer submitted diagnostic cases from five different IPRS (total of 18 raceways) from three different farms. Of those 79 cases, 35% were health checks where no disease/parasite was found or served as follow up checks for a previously diagnosed case. Fish were either dropped off at the AFFC or the diagnostician made a visit with the Mobile Disease Laboratory to the farm at the request of the farmer. Cases for channel and hybrid catfish were combined for the purpose of this summary. The most common disease found in IPRS in Alabama over this time period was Columnaris with 26 confirmed cases. This was followed by ESC and Aeromonas hydrophila with 16 and 14 cases, respectively. In many instances, Columnaris and ESC tended to occur together. Fish kills ranged from just a few dead fish to thousands of pounds depending on the disease and severity of infection. For the most part, incidences of skin and gill parasites were minimal, although there were two cases of Ich and a particularly difficult case of intralamellular Henneguya that occurred when fish were market size but had to be held for several weeks due to off-flavor. Alternative systems such as the IPRS have a great deal of potential for increasing production and the profitability of raising catfish. Farmers that are considering investing in these systems, however, should take note that we are still learning about the dynamics of disease in these alternative systems. Just like farmers that raise catfish in traditional earthen ponds, there have been some instances of disease that have resulted in mass mortalities in IPRS. More research and effort needs to be devoted to exploring disease incidences and the response of catfish to different treatment regimes in IPRS.

Last Modified: 10/21/2014
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