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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Stoneville, Mississippi » Warmwater Aquaculture Research Unit » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #326172

Research Project: Water Quality and Production Systems to Enhance Production of Catfish

Location: Warmwater Aquaculture Research Unit

Title: Catfish production using intensive aeration

item RECSETAR, MATTHEW - University Of Arkansas At Pine Bluff
item Brown, Travis

Submitted to: The Catfish Journal
Publication Type: Trade Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/4/2016
Publication Date: 2/1/2016
Citation: Recsetar, M., Brown, T.W. 2016. Catfish production using intensive aeration. The Catfish Journal. 30(1):15.

Interpretive Summary: Catfish farmers in Arkansas and Mississippi have been able to produce much higher yields by increasing the aeration rates in their ponds. As of 2010, the average aeration rate within the industry was about 2.5 hp/acre. This roughly equates to a farmer having either 2 or 3 10-hp paddlewheel aerators in a 10 acre pond. By adding additional paddlewheel aerators to a pond, a farmer is able to provide adequate dissolved oxygen to the entire pond thus relieving the stress of low oxygen on the fish. When dissolved oxygen is not the limiting factor as it has been in the past, yields are free to increase dramatically. Utilizing intensive aeration in smaller ponds also allows for a farmer to have a more manageable standing crop at the end of the season and help mitigate some of the risk. Although it is recommended that intensively aerated ponds be stocked with hybrid catfish, there has been success with channels and yields have been shown to increase as aeration increases even before a pond gets to what we would consider intensive aeration levels (6 hp/acre). Intensive aeration of catfish ponds may be an economically feasible solution (although thorough economic analysis is needed) and a potentially good option for farms looking to increase production without needing additional land.

Technical Abstract: For the last 3 years, researchers at UAPB and NWAC have been monitoring and verifying production yields in intensively aerated catfish ponds with aeration rates greater than 6 hp/acre. We now have three years of data on commercial catfish production in intensively aerated ponds. With stocking densities ranging from 7,500 to 13,000 head per acre, we have seen yields as high as 18,000 lb per acre with an average of about 13,000 lb per acre in Arkansas and 16,000 lb per acre in Mississippi with average aeration rates of about 8 hp/acre. For ponds averaging 4.4 acres in Arkansas, optimal stocking density was found to be around 8,500 head per acre. The average feed conversion ratio (FCR) over 3 years of production with hybrid catfish was 2.03, while the survival was 88.3% for the Arkansas ponds. The production performance in Mississippi was similar with an average FCR of 2.15 and 89.6% survival, although, data is still being collected from farms in both states. Intensive aeration of catfish ponds may be an economically feasible solution (although thorough economic analysis is