Evaluation of a Barrier Confinement System for Channel Catfish, Ictalurus punctatus, Production

Authors

  • Neil J Pugliese,

    1. Aquaculture/Fisheries Center, University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, 1200 North University Drive, Mail Slot 4912, Pine Bluff, Arkansas 71601 USA
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  • David Heikes,

    1. Aquaculture/Fisheries Center, University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, 1200 North University Drive, Mail Slot 4912, Pine Bluff, Arkansas 71601 USA
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  • Carole R Engle

    Corresponding author
    1. Aquaculture/Fisheries Center, University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, 1200 North University Drive, Mail Slot 4912, Pine Bluff, Arkansas 71601 USA
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Corresponding author.

Abstract

An in-pond confinement system to separate channel catfish, Ictalurus punctatus, by size within a single pond provides an opportunity for improved growth of understocked fish in ponds with larger market-sized fish. A barrier of polyvinyl chloride–coated galvanized wire mesh was constructed in five 0.10-ha earthen ponds to partition the pond into one-third and two-third sections, while five other 0.10-ha ponds were left as traditional open ponds for a control. To evaluate catfish performance in this confinement system, fingerlings (25 g) were stocked at 14,820/ha into the smaller one-third section of the barrier and carryover fish (408 g) at 2580 kg/ha into the larger two-third section of the barrier. The control ponds were stocked with the same sizes and numbers of fish in a traditional earthen pond without a barrier. Yield, survival, feed conversion ratio (FCR), growth, and economics were compared between treatments. Fingerling yields were greater in the barrier system that allowed fingerlings to be separated physically from larger carryover fish. There were no differences in yield of carryover fish, survival, FCR, or growth between the control and the barrier ponds. Partial budget analysis revealed a positive net change of $367/ha or $38,125 for a 104-ha catfish farm (at a market price of $1.54/kg of additional stockers produced). The value of the greater weight of understocked fish produced in the barrier system was greater than the annualized cost of installing the barrier, for farmers raising fish in multiple batch. Thus, on an experimental basis, the confinement system was economically profitable; however, trials on commercial farms are needed to evaluate performance on a larger scale.

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