Evaluation of Split-Pond Systems for Production of Channel Catfish Fingerlings

Assessing alternative pond production systems that may reduce avian predation of channel catfish (Ictalurus punctatus) is of extreme interest to state/federal and private hatcheries. This study evaluated the culture of channel catfish fingerlings in a pilot-scale split-pond system (SPS) and compared it to traditional earthen ponds (TP). Six 0.04-ha ponds were covered by netting and stocked with channel catfish fingerlings at a rate of 200,000 fish ha–1; ponds were evenly split between TP and SPS. Fingerlings were cultured for 99 days and fed a commercial diet twice daily. Fish were fed 4.0% to 6.5% of their total body weight during the first 73 days, then ad libitum until the end of the study due to reduced water temperatures. Production parameters were similar between treatments except for condition factor, which was higher for fish raised in the TP. Channel catfish fingerlings raised in SPS had a more uniform size distribution than in TP. Exclusion of avian predators in an aquaculture facility is expensive, and for that reason the use of the SPS may be considered as an integrated management approach to alleviate this problem.

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