Catfish (Hito) Culture, Part 2 Harvesting

Harvesting. The rearing period depends upon the size of fingerlings stocked. Seven to ten cm fingerlings culture period lasts about 4 months while 3 to 4 cm fingerlings need 6 months. When the fish are about 20 to 25 cm long you can start harvesting, partially or completely. Drain pond partially and captured fish by seines (net hung vertically, one side with floats, other side with sinkers) or scoop nets as soon as water level is low enough. To harvest completely, let the water out through the drain pipe.

Storage and transport. The quality of fish depends on handling from the time it is caught until it reaches the consumer. Wash fish to remove mud, debris, or any foreign substance, sort them according to size and separate those which are bruised decomposed or damaged.

Remove harvested catfish from water immediately after catch and place in wood, plastic aluminum, or styroform containers. Be sure that the containers have perforated covers to prevent hito from escaping.

Catfish are equipped with special assessor organs which enable them to survive out of water for a long time. There are no rules to be followed in storing an d transporting hito because of their innate hardiness. Fill three-fourth of the container with 20 to 25 cm long catfish and four a liter of plain water. This moisture level will enable them to withstand the rigors of travel up to 12 hours. By following this, the harvest will reach markets in tip-top condition where they are sold live. This manner of transport is also used for foreign destinations.

Market information. Catfish are commonly farmed in region 1 and 2. Raisers sell them at P21.63 per kilo (data from Market Assistance Section of Fishery Economics and Information Division 1998), each kilo being equivalent to 5 to 6 pieces of 20 top 25 cm long hito.

This black delicious fish is sold in almost all parts of the country at an average price of P26.46 per kilo. Hito is customarily marketed through middlemen who sell at P24.28 (average cost) a kilo to retailers.

If intend to supply the local market, it is best to breed Clarias macrocephalus. Its more intense, “fishy” taste is preferred by local consumers. But if you plan to export, breed the longer bodies

Clarias batrachus or Bangkok hito. Its milder taste but firmer meat is favored by the foreign market. We exported 776,134 kg of catfish worth P29,553,813 to 13 country in 1986. The three major importers were the U.S.A., Singapore, and Canada. There is much potential in developing the British, Australian, and Taiwanese markets.

In assessing the profitability of catfish farming, you must first consider your inputs. You will need ponds, deep well, water pump, water control structures, purchase of starter fingerlings and feeds. A one-hectare hito pond usually yields 100 metric tons or 95,000 pieces of fish. If there are 6 pieces per kilo, the gross sales would add up to P341,993 if you sell at P21.60 per kilo giving you roughly 30 per cent profit.

Raising Tips

Don’t over stock

Catfish can be stocked at 1500 fish per surface acre for non-commercial ponds. A pond stocked at 1500 fish per acre could produce about 1500 pounds of catfish ready at one time! That’s a lot of catfish!

Feed like hogs

Catfish convert feed at an average yield of about 1 pound of fish for every 2 pounds of feed. Feed them like hogs. If you have the time feed twice a day. Keep their gut full. Feed them as much as they can consume in 15 to 30 min. Do not over feed. Feed is money. Feed the fish in the morning around 8 a.m. At this time dissolved oxygen levels have started to rise and no later than mid afternoon around 3 P.M. to allow for digestion during periods of low oxygen. Use floating catfish feed.

This type of feed remains at the surface for considerable periods of time and is not subject to loss in mud on the bottom as is sinking feed. Sinking feeds represent a small percentage of feed fed to catfish. Feed consumption by catfish is directly related to water temperature. A 32 percent protein floating feed is fed to large fingerlings to harvest (six inches an up). As the water temperature drops, consumption declines. Feeding is inconsistent below about 70°F and, although catfish feed at temperatures as low as 50°F, consumption is greatly reduced.

Don’t stock catfish with other fish

It is very important to keep all bream out of your catfish pond. This will save you money on your feed bill and it could prevent low oxygen problems. If you want to have a good catfish pond, stock only with catfish. A pond produces only so much oxygen for your fish.

Use Common Sense

Catfish will eat like hogs. When catfish get sick they stop feeding. If they stop or slow down something is wrong. Think Diseases! There can be a lot of other things wrong but diseases can kill a lot of fish quick. If in doubt seek help quick. Diseases and parasites are numerous and complicated. There are no quick explanations about diseases. A fish biologist spends years studying diseases.

How to train your fish on feed

Catfish will take man made feed very easy. Place a flowing ring in the pond big enough to hold your feed. This ring can be made out pvc or wood or any thing that floats. This allows your feed to stay in one place ( keeps the wind from blowing the feed on the bank ) your fish can find the feed and know where to go to feed. Place this ring in at less 3 feet of water. Once your fish start to feed, this ring can be removed.

The don’t list

  • Don’t fertilize a catfish pond.
  • Don’t over feed.
  • Don’t let your catfish reproduce in your pond.
  • Don’t raise catfish and bream together.

For more information, contact:

Bureau of Fisheries (BFAR)
Arcadia Building 860 Quezon Avenue, 1103 Quezon City
Tel No. : (02) 372-5043
Web :


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