Profitable Catfish Farming -2 Secrets For Success

If you are looking to earn profits and venture into a new business line, it’s time you know that catfish business creates a real business opportunity.

And here are some stats to back that up: Farm-raised catfish is the largest aquaculture industry in the United States. In 2005, the U.S. catfish industry produced 600 million pounds of catfish from 165,000 pond water acres. The farm-raised catfish industry at $450 million in annual production value has the highest economic value of any aquaculture industry in the United States.

But the real question is how to start catfish farming?
This article will tell you everything you need to know about farming catfish and earning a tremendous amount of profit from it.

How to Start Catfish farming:

As you may have imagined, a post like this one cannot be an exhaustive material on how to start catfish farming.
What we have put together here is the basic information that can get you started. We hope this will whet your appetite enough to want to take the next steps of actually getting to do the work required to establish the farm.
Here are a few key points to get you started on establishing a catfish farm:

Get Useful Knowledge On Catfish Farming

Just like starting any other business, the first requirement is to create a plan. And to do that you require as much information as you can lay your hands on.
There are tons of books, articles, studies and even workshops available that can help you learn catfish cultivation.
However, I think practice is the best form of learning. While you may get good knowledge and catfish farming facts from books, unless you put your knowledge to practical work, there is no real learning.

For this, you may have to visit a few farms, talk to the farmers, spend time and learn from them how they work. Note down the positive points and where there are also gaps. This will help in establishing a better business plan for your catfish farm, which brings us to our next point.


Write A Business Plan

Drafting a business plan is the second most crucial thing when it comes to establishing a new business.
Writing a business plan enables you to really think about how the business is going to function as well as other key elements.

A business plan helps you think about the customers for the product you want to sell or service you want to provide. Who are they? Where are they? What do you need to make the business successful?

You will be asking yourself several questions such as why you want to start it, what are its advantages, estimated profits, dead ends and whether it’s a sustainable business. What you will be writing in the plan would be mainly the data you got from your field visits and desk research from the very first step we talked about earlier.

Talking about sustainability, the seafood business, or any food-related business for that matter is ever-growing. Yes, the number of mouths to feed is increasing by the day. And they will keep rising till the end of the days.
People have specifically grown to love catfish, and hence the business is booming with opportunity.

Catfish farming requirements:

To someone outside the business, catfish farming might sound like breeding a bunch of fish in the pond and feeding them. But it is a lot more than just that.
Here is what you will need to start your catfish cultivation.

When it comes to catfish farming, like any other business, you need space. In this case, a vast piece of land, where you can establish one or more ponds, depending on your investment size.
Now how to find the right land for catfish farming?

  • should be legally permissible to build a pond or man-made water body
  • should have a proper drainage system.
  • should not be affected by geographical problems like flooding, droughts etc.
  • should be free of pesticides and the effects of pesticides which may have been used in the past.
  • In the case of underlying pipelines and power cables, the authority should be notified and planning permission obtained for the site
  • Last but not least, a steady supply of fresh clean water is needed.
How to start catfish farming quote

Building a Pond:
After getting the land, the most essential task is to build the pond.

– Remove soft soil and gravel from the site, depending on how deep and wide a pond you require.
– Check the soil for any contamination, to keep the fish away from danger or disease.
– Determine a drainage system that best suits your plan.
– Select the size and shape of the pond you want to build, and get working! A rectangularly shaped pond is economically cheaper and costs less than a square pond.

A pond can be of varying sizes, but one thing it should always be is deep. The depth should not be less than 4 ft.
That doesn’t mean pools with less than that depth are not catering quality fish, but if you want optimal growth of your catfish, make sure the depth of the water is between 4 to 6 ft—the deeper, the better.

Building the pond is usually sustainable for large scale catfish breeders, if you are just beginning to step in the market and want to invest less, you could also make use of surface tanks or pools which are far cheaper.

fish pond

The key is to keep the pool from being too populated. For even better results, manage a better flow of water. A clean flow of water would mean that the fish will eat more, live longer and hence grow bigger.
The flow of water is so crucial that if you fill a pool with double the count of fish that it can sustain naturally, and have a good inflow and outflow of water that runs all day long, all the fish will remain the best quality.

This is because dirty water reduces the appetite of catfish by a whopping 60 to 75%. The less food they take in, the slower and stunted their growth will be, resulting in massive loss!

Tip: On average a 50ft by 50ft pond can carry 1800 to 2000 fishes, that grow optimally.

Stock High-Quality Fish Juveniles
After you have established a good land and water facility, now’s time to start growing the fish. For this, you will need small baby catfish, also known as juvenile catfish.
Some things to look out for when buying juvenile catfish for catfish farming:

– They should be very active
– No bodily defects
– From the same parent culture

Is catfish a good fish to eat?

When you purchase a catfish culture, make sure that the fish are moving freely around the water. Slow or non-moving fish is a sign of disease or ill health, which will result in poor quality catfish.
Next, you need to check their body. Any mark, colour change or weird formation, on the body, is a big No.

Purchasing this culture means the fish will end up being either deformed or stunted.
The fish should all be of one colour, so thoroughly check through each juvenile fish before you purchase. They would weigh between 10 to 15 grams each and be 4 to 7 cms in length. The average age of these juveniles should be no more than 7-9 weeks.

Catfish business is a vast business, which means that all kinds of people are working their way up. While most of them are doing it the right way, some have created nasty shortcuts to earn good profit. To not fall prey to their tactics, you must keep your eyes open!

One common tactic which many newbies fall prey to is getting defected fingerling or low-quality culture. Many breeders often hatch the fingerlings before they have matured enough to be able to create offspring, resulting in a low count of offspring and sometimes even defected or none.
So make sure you buy your culture from someone you know who has been in the catfish cultivation business for long and is known for their work and ethics.

Related posts: 5 steps To Preserve, Process and Pack Smoked Catfish

Fish feed:
The next big thing after promising fish juveniles is their feed. Their growth is highly dependent on what you feed them. There are several fish feeds available in the market, ranging in a variety of sizes and variants. You can get floating fish feed as well as fish feed that sinks.

To begin with, give your juvenile fish small floating feed, this will help you keep track of, how much they are eating. Also, any excess feed, if not ingested, can cause contamination for young juveniles. While floating feed can easily be seen and kept track of, the sinking feed can be hard to keep track of.

As the juveniles turn two months old, you can switch their feed to a bigger size and may give floating or sinking feed whichever you seem fit.

Keep track of the fact that they are neither underfed nor overfed, both of this can cause unsteady growth and in many cases, death.
Small fishes that weigh under 10 grams should be fed twice a day, while those that have grown up to or beyond 10 gram should only be fed once a day.

Next, you need to take care of the quality of the feed. The feed should be healthy and filed with added nutrients, for optimal growth of your catfish.

Catfish Farming Benefits:

Over the years, the catfish farming business has been brimming with more than expected high profit. The reasons are relatively simple:

● High-profit ratio:
Catfish farming profits help earn the initial investment along with profits, within the first three months of starting.
The profits percentage is more than 50%, and as you establish, it grows further.

● A great demand for catfish
Catfish have lately become a popular source of protein in countries beyond the African peninsula. They are being cooked and served in all kinds of varieties and being loved by the consumers. Catfish is also cheaper than other types of fish, making it popular among the masses.

● Low investment:
Catfish harvesting requires minimal investment, with a guaranteed return in less than four months. Anyone with a small, mediocre or large budget can plant a catfish cultivation farm according to their investment. There is no hard and fast rule that you need so and so much to start catfish farming.

● Easy breeding and low chances of death
But why just invest in catfish? Why not any other? Well mainly because catfish are typically easy to treat breed. They don’t require any special treatment and have a lower mortality rate compared to other varieties of fish, making them less vulnerable to death, hence fewer chances of loss.


As earlier stated, this post only covers some of the key elements you need to know on how to start catfish farming. Your next steps should be getting out to the field and talking to people who have also started catfish farms and are willing to share their experiences.

Now that you know how to start catfish farming learn how to make even better profits from it, here.

You may also be interested in Is catfish a good fish to eat?

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Festus Otasowie
Festus Otasowie
Articles: 55


  1. On the number of times to feed the fish, I prefer to feed twice for all ages exept the broodstocks that I feed once a day

    • Hello Joseph,
      Thanks for sharing.
      From your experience, what is the advantage of this approach of any?

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