Aquaponic Gardening

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I found 1 catfish floating yesterday. I was hoping that would be the only one and my levels would start coming down. Today I found 2 more dead so I tested the water and levels were no better. I started a water change and found several more dead at the water intake and under rocks for a total of about 9 catfish and 1 goldfish. Hopefully the aggressive water change will help things bounce back. Very disappointing but hope the others will survive.



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Comment by David Waite on May 30, 2011 at 9:50pm
I keep hearing over and over again of massive losses of catfish fingerlings. TC might be the exception do to the very high ratio of growbed to tank. TC is 2 to 1 in gal of growbed to tank. I am wondering if catfish a little bigger say 4 to 6 in would be a little hardier than fingerlings. I to have given up on catfish for this year and have switched to koi and tilapia.
Comment by Steve Stark on May 30, 2011 at 9:21pm

Donna, That is terrible. I am able to go to a fish farm and see them taken out of the pond so don't think I have to worry about that. I think I was the cause of my catfish deaths but think I have things figured out for the next batch.

Thanks for the info,


Comment by TCLynx on May 30, 2011 at 4:41pm

Oh, Donna that is a horrible report.  Thank you for sharing.  Oh, that supplier should be shot selling pre-poisioned fish like that.

Definitely how the supplier handles the fish makes a big impact on how well they will transport and survive once they get there.

Comment by Donna Landrum on May 30, 2011 at 4:37pm
Hi Steve, just ran across your post and thought you might me interested in our experience w/catfish.  Last year we purchased 150 fingerlings & my father-in-law bought 100.  We lost every one of them.  This year the 25 catfish fingerlings my FIL (Len) put in his system a few weeks ago died.  He purchased this years fingerlings from the same supplier, Arkansas Pondstockers, w/the same results. He noticed that they were topping off the tanks on the truck w/chlorinated water. When he asked them about it they stated that they do this at every stop. Chlorine levels in municipal systems at the tap can run anywhere from 0.1 to 1 mg/l. By comparison, the highest concentration of chlorine that has failed to show a measurable harmful effect on fish is about 0.02 mg/l. Most fish health specialists recommend that chlorine concentrations not exceed 0.05 mg/l for more than 30 minutes per day; nor should average ambient levels exceed 0.003 mg/l. Chlorine damages gills, inhibits respiratory functions, and affects kidneys, thereby reducing their ability to filter toxins from the blood. basically they die by blood poisoning/kidney failure or suffocation. Also Len's tank had been properly cycled & was not over crowded.  Last year & this year I examined the dead fish & found that the gills had turned to mush & there was some hemorrhaging at the base of the fins & around the gills.  This indicated either hamburger gill disease or chlorine toxicity in my opinion.  They also appeared to have ick which could also be caused by the chlorine destroying the natural slime/bacteria on the fish.  We found a different supplier & he is trying some hybrid bluegill now.  We have switched to tilapia w/much better results.  I have a blog on FB w/pics if you are interested.   Good Luck! 
Comment by TCLynx on May 14, 2011 at 8:00pm
I would look up fishless cycling and get your system well cycled up in that fashion and once you have that done, then get more fish.
Comment by Steve Stark on May 14, 2011 at 6:54pm
I Did loose them all. I have done several water changes and my levels are finally starting to get more in check. I think that not finding the first deaths soon enough just spiraled things out of control. I am going to wait for things to look more normal and think about getting more catfish.
Comment by TCLynx on May 14, 2011 at 5:01am

catfish can handle a ph of 8 but not along with ammonia and like most fish, they don't take well to going from one pH to a drastically different other pH fast.  (as in if the hatchery had soft water then getting the small fingerlings and placing them in a hard water high pH system that was uncycled would be a bad transition.)


I started with catfish and did really well but I fishelssly cycled up my system before getting fish.

Comment by Brian Hitchcock on May 14, 2011 at 12:13am

Hang in there...we started our system with catfish and lost a lot for almost 35-40 days. Being new at this, the good folks in the AP community assured me that at about 42 days things would start to balance. They were spot on and for the last 10 days, no death, plants (especially cucumbers and lettuce) have taken off and there are fish 6-8". Other than system maintenance problems, mostly due to our developing country setting, it seems like things working nicely. So be patient and persevere!


Comment by David Waite on May 13, 2011 at 8:44pm
Steve I think you are in the same boat I did. I found catfish to be very delicate compared to koi or golds. I lost a butt load of fingerlings and not one koi during start up. Even after my system was fully cycled and had a new batch of cats they died from ph burn. My system is at 8 and the fingerlings couldnt handle that at the 2 inch size. Thats what a fisheries biologist said. I am switching to tilapia due to my high ph and the utter bamboosal of catfish. My guess your die off will be massive or almost all if you have lost that much already. Not giving up on cats but have to wait until I get new rock in my system and the system is fully cycled. Cats just cant handle new system start up rigors. Especially if they are small 2 in fingerlings. Keep your chin up and try again.
Comment by TCLynx on May 9, 2011 at 8:27pm

need more info about your system.  How big?  How many fish total?  How much grow bed?  What do the water tests say?


Dead fish under rocks?  rocks and gravel in the fish tank are generally not such a good idea as they tend to trap solids that will break down and use up dissolved oxygen from the fish tank or if they are breaking down in the bottom of a fish tank, it could be anaerobically and if stirred up will give off some rather toxic gasses that can do in some types of fish pretty quickly.

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