Catfish farming has come to Oklahoma. Now, you can learn about catfish culture in a
4-H project. Three kinds projects are available.
1) open pond projects
2) caged projects
3) fishing club projects
Information on fishing club projects is in another publication.
Open Pond Projects
The minimum size pond for an open pond culture project is 1/2 acre surface area. Your pond must be free of stumps, rocks, holes and other seining obstacles. For efficient harvest, deep ponds (8 feet) must have drains.
Stock your pond with healthy, 6-8 inch fingerlings in April or May. Stocking 1,000 fish per acre is the suggested rate for inexperienced fish farmers. Your actual stocking rate will depend on the quality of your pond and your experience level.
Use a 32 or 36% protein, complete, floating ration for these projects. Most .Oklahoma feed dealers stock commercial catfish feed. To determine the amount to feed, measure the amount eaten in a 15 minute trial period. Feed that amount for two weeks. Then measure the amount eaten in another 15 minute trial and repeat the procedure. Feed your fish at least 6 days per week.
When your fish reach 1 to 1.5 pounds, they are ready for harvest. Under normal growing conditions, they will reach this size in September or October.
Caged projects require ponds with a minimum of one acre surface area. The cage bottom must have 2-3 feet clearance with the pond bottom throughout the growing season. Most cages are 4 feet deep, so minimum pond depth is 6-7 feet.
Cages may be round, rectangular or square. They may range in size from 30 - 120 cubic feet. Construction with welded, vinyl coated wire is better than plastic or nylon net material. Floats for the cage can be plastic jugs, styrofoam blocks or PVC pipe.
Stock your cage in April or May with 6-8 inch, yearling catfish. Stocking rates of 10 fish per cubic foot of cage volume and 1,000 fish per surface acre of pond area are adequate.
Make sure you buy a 36% protein, cage ration for caged projects. This feed is available from most Oklahoma feed dealers. Because your caged fish have no other food source, feed at least 6 days per week.
.Feeding 7 days per week can increase gains by an additional 10%. Follow the procedure described for open ponds to determine ration size.
Your fish will need 125 to 150 days to reach harvest weight (1-1.5 pounds).
State law requires a low cost, Aquatic Culture license for the open pond and caged projects.
The author offers thanks to Dave Wingo, Debbie Nivens and Jovanna Oldenberg for reviewing this document.
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