Theses and Dissertations

Title: Effects of stocking density and water age on water quality and fish production in commercial catfish (Ictalurus punctatus) ponds in west Alabama

Name: Woodfin II, John T.

Degree: MS

Chair: David R. Bayne


University: Auburn University

Location: Auburn, Alabama

Date: 2004

Pages: 67

Keywords: stocking, water quality, fish production, Ictaluris punctatus, catfish, catfish ponds, west Alabama


This study was conducted to compare water quality and channel catfish production in earthen ponds located on commercial farms in west Alabama. The ponds were managed according to each commercial farm's standard practices, not under controlled experimental conditions. Each pond sampled was in either the low density treatment stocked at 8,000 fish/acre. Also, each pond was either in the old treatment which was in constant use for at least 5 years before the first sampling date or the young treatment which was in constant use for less than 5 years before the final sampling date. Means for pH, soluble-reactive phosphorus (SRP), total phosphorus (TP), and chloride (Cl) were significantly (P<0.05) higher in the high density treatments than the low density treatments during the growing seasons. The high density ponds were treated with algicides, which decreased phytoplankton blooms. As a result, mean corrected and uncorrected chlorophyll a concentrations and mean total organic carbon (TOC) concentrations were significantly (P<0.05) higher in the low density treatment than the high density treatment. The water quality impacted upon the production variables as mean feed conversion ratio (FCR) was significantly (P0.05) difference in mean fish yield per unit area between low and high density treatments. This study shows that water quality was degraded in the high density ponds and increased stocking density increased FCR and did not increase the fish yield per unit area. Mean total nitrogen (TN), mean total phosphorus (TP), mean corrected and uncorrected chlorophyll a, and mean TOC were significantly (P<0.05) higher in the old treatment than the young treatment during the growing seasons. This suggests that the water age of channel catfish production ponds had an effect upon the water quality of the ponds. It may be desirable to periodically remove a pond from production for a year to allow time for assimilation organic matter and a natural decrease in the plant nutrients.

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