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One of the ways to make money from the fish farming business is to learn how to hatch catfish.
Catfish farming is one of the most common and most profitable agricultural businesses you can venture into. Beyond that, learning and mastering the basics of how to hatch catfish will help you make money from the fish farming business without sweat and within a short period of time.
This doesn’t mean that you will not make mistakes or that it will be a smooth ride for you. However, if you look beyond the mistakes and pick yourself up after falling, you will be a force to reckon with in the industry.
It is easy to hatch a fish but the management system is what puts most people off. The hatchery management process
In this article, I will put you through the process of how to hatch catfish easily in the comfort of your home.
Before we consider how to hatch catfish, let’s consider some basics of hatching catfish.
What Is Fish Hatchery?
Catfish hatchery is the process of artificially breeding a fish. In other words, you hatch the fish’s eggs under artificial conditions.
The process of hatchery (which is mainly insemination) takes around 24 to 36 hours before the proper management system begins.
Now let’s take a look at the hatching process.
You’ll need to have some equipment to hatch catfish successfully.
Hence, let’s consider what some of these pieces of equipment are.
Catfish Hatchery Equipment
There are certain pieces of equipment you need to have before hatchery can take place. These pieces of equipment include:
- Well regulated Water
- Synthetic hormone
- Saline Solution
- Spawning Net
- 2 Towels
- Tissue Paper
- Plastic spoon
Steps To How To Hatch Catfish
1. Identify The Broodstock
The first step in the hatchery process is identifying the broodstock.
What is a broodstock? Broodstocks are mature catfish that can be used to hatch catfish. Simply put, they are male and female catfish.
What you need to hatch a catfish egg is the female catfish and the male catfish. To identify the broodstock is easy, turn the catfish upside down.
The male broodstock has a red-tip sexual papilla located behind the anus.
The female broodstock has a reddish genital opening. Also, it has a swollen stomach that can be easily identified. If gently pressed from the top, the ready eggs will come out.
2. Select The Catfish To Be Used
The next thing you need to do if you want to hatch a catfish is to select the fish(es) you want to use for hatching. Before deciding on the fish to use, you must have selected and scanned through several catfish to see which is right and ready to use.
Make sure the fish selected is mature because it has a direct effect on whether or not the process will be successful.
3. Weigh The Broodstocks
Next, you need to weigh the fish to see if they are up to the required size. Personally, when selecting the fish I want to use to hatch, I prefer the female fish to be at least 1kg. This is because they will be “loaded” in the local language i.e. they will contain more mature eggs.
4. Prepare The Female Broodstock For Propagation
After selecting the fish (male and female) you want to use, the next thing is to prepare your female broodstock for propagation.
In this stage, you will inject the female fish with the synthetic hormone (Ovaprim, or Ovulin). The amount of synthetic hormone you inject into the fish will depend on the weight of the fish.
To inject the fish, you must first cover the face of the fish with a towel. After covering the face, point your syringe towards the tail of the fish and inject. This way, the synthetic hormone will be effective and produce desired results.
5. Separate The Catfish
After injecting the fish, you have to separate the male fish from the female fish. This is important because after like 4 hours, the female fish will start reacting to the injection. When separating the fish, you have to cover the fish so it doesn’t see light at all.
If you don’t do this, the fish can fight her way out of the space you put it. You have to separate and cover the fish for at least 8 hours.
Read this article on how to start a fish farm
6. Set Up The incubator
The next step in this process is to prepare the incubator where you will be hatching the fish. Ideally, the place should be ready at least 14 hours before the previous process. If your water pH is not good, you have to fetch the water down for 24 hours or more to allow the acidity level to reduce and for a hassle-free hatchery process.
Have your water down and spread the spawning net on the water then you are half ready to hatch your fish.
7. Strip The Fish
After like 8 hours of injecting your fish, now is the time to strip your female fish. This process is very delicate because you don’t want your effort to go to waste.
The first thing after you remove your separated fish from the water is to cover the eyes with one towel, then another person holds the fishtail with a towel also. Whoever is holding the fish has to hold it tight so it doesn’t fall off.
After covering the eyes, gently press the belly of the fish till the eggs start coming out. Continue pressing the fish belly till you see that there are no more eggs or you can see that a stain of blood has started coming out.
8. Bring Out Milt
The next step is to remove the milt sac (sperm) from the male fish. There are different ways to do this, some people kill the fish first and then bring out the milt sac.
What I do is I cut the fish from the belly and then bring out the milk sac from the side. Although you are going to kill the fish eventually at least you can do whatever you want to do before the actual slaughter of the male fish.
A male fish should have at least two milt sacs but if that doesn’t happen, one should be enough depending on the size and weight of the female broodstock.
When you remove the milt sac, put it on tissue paper and cover it. You can remove the milt sac before or after killing the male fish, whatever works for you is fine.
NOTE: It is advisable to have at least two or three male broodstock on standby. This is because you might be in a situation where one male broodstock doesn’t have any milt sac. I have been in that situation before.
9. Mix The Saline Solution With The Milt
After removing the milt sac from the broodstock, the next thing is to mix the milt sac (sperm) with the stripped eggs. Get the eggs, gently cut the milt sac with a blade, and mix both with a spoon using the saline solution.
When mixing the eggs, you have to be very careful so that there is not too much saline solution or water (if you are going to be using freshwater).
Mix for at least a minute or more before moving to the next step.
10. Spread The Eggs On The Spawning Net
The last but not least step is to spread the eggs on a spawning net.
After gently spreading the eggs, cover the pond with thick nylon for at least 24 hours.
How Long Does it Take For Catfish Eggs to Hatch
Come back after 24 hours to check whether or not the eggs have hatched.
At times it takes longer than 24 hours for the eggs to hatch but it should not be more than 30 hours in order to avoid pollution
How do I know if the eggs hatched?
The hatched eggs fall from the net down to the bottom of the incubator (plastic pond or whatever you use to hatch) while the bad eggs turn white and stay on the net.
You can leave the net for like 30 hours but you need to check it regularly to avoid pollution.
If the net is not removed on time and the water is polluted, it can cause the hatched eggs to die.
Some people do not see the hatched fish early, it is normal. Such people can see the fish at 72 hours when most of them would have been swimming in the water.
NOTE: The male fish you use for hatching cannot be used again cos the most important thing useful in the fish has been removed.
The female fish used for spawning should be kept separately from other broodstock and fed very well. After 4 months, it will be ready for use again.
Best Weather Condition For Hatching Catfish
if you are in Africa, there are basically two different weather conditions we operate in, the rainy season and the dry season (just like winter and summer in Europe).
One question that has been common for newbies in the hatching business is what is the best weather condition for hatching?
There is no perfect weather condition for hatching catfish fries.
The only thing I will say is there is a way to manage your fries in different weather conditions (be it rainy or dry season). Although, there are farmers that will tell you they can’t hatch fish in the rainy season which is understandable.
As I always say to my students, fish management is always a tricky one. Too much cold affects the ovulation period of the female fish and when the eggs are hatched, if exposed to much cold, it can freeze them to death.
Likewise, heat, when you try to hatch catfish in a dry season and in a place that brings too much heat, if not careful, the heat will burn your fish to death.
What will be my advice? I will say depending on the season you find yourself as a farmer, learn how to work with that season in order to be able to produce great results.
The process of insemination to hatch catfish fries is very easy and it takes approximately 24 – 36 hours to complete which anyone can do. However, the real work begins when you have successfully hatched your fish, and it’s time to manage them for proper growth.
The first 2 weeks after the hatchery process is very crucial to the survival of your fish. You need to treat the catfish fries carefully, when changing the water, feeding them, siphoning the pond, and even when you need to sort them.
This process is not easy and requires special attention.
With less than $70 (N 30,000), you should be able to hatch a catfish successfully.
This is excluding some one-off costs you’re going to incur in setting up your hatchery.
If you are lucky and you were able to manage the fish for 2 weeks well, you can sell the fish and make money.
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