Channel Catfish

Originally posted by TCLynx on AGC, June 10, 2010

Channel Catfish are currently my only fish species in my aquaponics systems.

Here are excerpts of the article I wrote on them for the Backyard
Aquaponics Magazine (Full article with the pictures is available in the 5th issue of the Magazine.)

Channel Catfish Ictalurus punctatus


Two to four pounds is the average size channel catfish that most anglers could expect to find in most waterways. A 20 lb (9 kg) specimen would be spectacular and even a 10 lb (4.5 kg) fish would be admirable, though channel catfish can
top out in the 40-50 lb range. The world
record channel catfish weighed 64 pounds.

Channel Catfish prefer slow to moderate currents and sand or gravel bottoms.

Channel Catfish are the most farmed aquaculture species in the USA.

Channel catfish naturally occurred in central and eastern North America including central Florida. Since I am in central Florida, this species appeals as a native. They are well adapted to the climate and the species can survive much colder climates so I don’t need to worry about keeping
them warm in winter.

Channel Catfish mature between 3 and 8 years of age, the males find a cave or hollow to invite the female to lay her eggs. Then the male stays and guards the eggs, using his tail to fan water over them to keep them oxygenated. I do not yet know how likely it is to get
channel catfish to breed in a backyard scale aquaponics system.

Why Channel Catfish?

As noted above, they are a native fish to my location and therefore well adapted to the climate. They are good eating and easy
to acquire. They are also kinda cute
with those whiskers.

Our climate is subtropical (Central Florida USA.) We are in a fairly hot humid climate but because we are surrounded by water in Florida, the heat is
rarely too extreme in temperature though the hot season is generally long. Come winter we can get frosts and freezes
though the ground does not freeze and cold spells rarely last very long.

Water in an outdoor aquaponics system can easily drop below 50 F during a cold spell here but could be back up to 70 F in a week.
During summer here it would be possible to get water over 90 F and
having shade for the grow beds and fish tanks is a must.

Having an in ground tank to couple with ground temperatures in this climate is very helpful for both summer and winter temperature modification. I’ve
found that this isn’t quite enough for keeping the tilapia happy but it is
enough to support Channel Catfish.

4 comments to Channel Catfish

  • I wondering about how much it grows yearly a catfish. Any comments will be very appreciated. Thanks

    • TCLynx

      That really depends on conditions like temperature, water quality, feed rate and feed type. On my farm, I can normally start with 3 inch fingerlings and have 3-5 lb channel catfish within 12 months. I tend to give them plenty of space and the water in my system usually stays pretty warm for a good portion of the year since I’m in central Florida, USA.

  • Agustin Giampaoli

    I purchased a 8000 gallons pool I will be using as the grow tank for the channel catfish, how many fish should I order, I really don’t want more than 200-300 but I am concerned about the availability of nutrient in the water for the grow beds… what are your thoughts?

    • TCLynx

      Without knowing how much filtration capacity you have, it is hard for me to know how many fish you should stock. I have 1000 gallon tanks for my fish since that is almost reasonable to net the fish out without having to drain it down. I only usually stock a MAX of 100 fish in the 1000 gallon tank and I’m usually running far less. I don’t usually like to leave less than 15 to 20 fish in a tank since at that point they seem to become territorial.
      For the past couple years I’ve not had nearly enough fish in my system since I don’t have a market for the fish so I’ve been having to mix up custom fish safe hydroponic nutrients for my system to keep the plants going (But I am a FARM selling produce so I definitely have more plants than a hobby or family system would use.)
      What is your system (what kind of filtration and what sort of growing system?)
      I can say that for a hobby sort of media bed system I would make sure each channel catfish fish had 2-5 cubic feet of media bed filtering for it. And that there was a constant minimum of 10 gallons of fish tank water per fish. So if your only filter is media grow beds are the normal 12 inches deep and you have at least 600 square feet of grow beds then the maximum number of fish I would recommend might be 300 but if this is a new system, start with LESS. 100 fish is a reasonable starting point even in a large system.
      If you are talking about a raft system, then you really need additional filtration. According to Friendly Aquaponics they have done stuff without extra filtration but there can be problems there.

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