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Photo: Market-size USDA 103 catfish ready for harvest. This new variety grows faster than other tested catfish. Link to photo information

An article in Agricultural Research magazine tells more.

New Catfish Line Released

By Sharon Durham
January 22, 2001

Faster-growing catfish should result from a new catfish line developed by Agricultural Research Service scientists in Stoneville, Miss. Researchers at the Catfish Genetics Research Unit (CGRU) bred the new line, NWAC103, scheduled for release to catfish producers in February 2001.

Catfish has become one of the most successful aquacultural enterprises. Genetic research on channel catfish--the most commonly used species--began in the mid-1960s. But producers have been waiting for development of a new, higher-performing catfish line. Since the industry’s inception, genetic improvement has not had a significant effect on commercial production in the major catfish-producing states--Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi.

The release of the new catfish line should change that. It usually takes catfish 18 to 24 months to go from birth to market. The new line grows 10-20 percent faster in the pond, and is ready for market sooner than others--an advantage for producers. NWAC103 catfish also consume 10-20 percent more feed than other catfish. However, the feed costs only 10 cents per pound, so producers are gaining a return on their investment because they can often get 70 to 80 cents per pound for the fish.

Scientists are also using ultrasound technology to measure the size of muscle in a live catfish, thus estimating fillet yield. Ultrasound measurements are a good indication of which fish have higher fillet yield. ARS researchers are now breeding those fish to find the potential of producing offspring with higher fillet yields.

ARS will release the new catfish jointly from the Thad Cochran National Warmwater Aquaculture Center with the Mississippi State University Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station, Mississippi State, Miss.

An article in January’s issue of ARS’ monthly Agricultural Research magazine tells more.

ARS is the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s chief scientific research agency.

Scientific contacts: William R. Wolters and Brian G. Bosworth, ARS Catfish Genetics Research Unit, Stoneville, Miss., phone (662) 686-3596, fax (662) 686-3567,,