Catfish in a barrel ... the expanded version

Discussion in 'The Green Patch' started by tacmotusn, Apr 2, 2010.


  1. tacmotusn

    tacmotusn Mosquito Sailor

    Somewhere, I think in the archives here I read an article about buying 2 barrels, cutting one in half to make to worm composting bins, and the other barrel was used as a catfish grow tank for 40 to 50 fingerling channel catfish. 1.5 to 2 lb weight per fish was attained in one season feeding them worms. 40 to 50 catfish seemed to be thinking a little small to me, and I decided to kick it up a notch or two.
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    Last fall I decided to make this pipe dream a reality.
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    As much as I would like to feed the catfish for free from worms grown in my own worm growing beds, that is on hold for now, but not forgotten. I will be feeding my fish ... floating catfish chow pellets for now.
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    I have a large wrap around porch on my new house which is still under construction by a one man band who hardly plays one instrument.
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    On my Southwest corner of the porches I set up a 55 gallon trickle down bio filter, and 3 water tanks (100 gallons each), set tri level so that the bio filter dumps into tank one, which dumps into tank two, which dumps into tank 3. A 790 gallon per hour commercial grade circulation pump pipes the water from the low point of tank 3 up to the bio filter for the completion of the cycle. There are a number of other inter connections between the tanks and bio filter as well I won't go into at this time.
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    I also have a aeriation air pump and distribution system that is capable of supplying 80 cubic liters of air per minute (26/27 cl per tank). commercial grade pump (yes it is oversized, ... my mistake, but will live with it til this pump dies if it ever does, and scale down a little).
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    March 24th I was sitting with my mini truck and utility trailer, and 4th 100 gallon water tank at the feed store 15 miles from my house waiting on fish.
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    First off, I was supposed to be getting 300 channel catfish 4 to 6 inches in length. The fish looked small. As it turns out they were. All were 3 to 4 inches in length. 4 out of 5 were under 4 inches.
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    Second, although the fingerlings were small, they gave me a long count of about 130 per bag that was supposed to be 100.
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    Third, due to the fish being small, I made mistakes. The water pickup cage with 1/2 inch by one inch mesh was too big. Seven of those little buggers were able to squirm into that cage clogging the flow to the pump. I found this out just before going to bed late the night of the 24th. When I went out there to shut off the lights, I noticed by the sound that the pump was straining. I immediately shut off the water pump, found the problem, turned on the aeriation air pump, and removed the pickup cage because I could see a few fish still alive in the cage. I failed to turn closed the ball valve at the tank 3 discharge to the circulation pump. I released back to tank 3, 2 live catfish and found 2 more dead ones on top of tanks 1 and 2 above the screen cover (1/2 by 1 inch mesh). Off to bed I went.
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    Next morning I found my tank 3 tiny catfish had learned to swim into the clear 1 inch circulation tubing, but were unable to turn around anywhere and thus many had stacked up here and there totally clogging the tubing.
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    The ball valve was closed and all remaining tank 3 fish still alive were evenly distributed to tanks 1 and 2.
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    It was quite a disappointing pain in the wallet and required a good deal of time to disassemble, clear and reassemble.
    Another 58 fish were dead.
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    I corrected the problem with the circulation pickup cage (I installed filter medium - 3M green scrubby pads in the pickup cage and the tank drain fittings for tanks 1 and 2 and 3).
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    I have been feeding the little buggers a minimum amount of floating catfish chow daily since the second day with little or no interest by them.
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    wooo hoooo, This afternoon 2 April, when I fed them the little buggers didn't exactly make the surface boil, but it was quite obvious they knew it was food, and they liked it. I gave them a double ration and watched them eat for a while, then I left them to it with a smile on my face.
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    In the near future I will try to get some pictures up on this. .... be patient, I am barely computer literate doing this.
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    One thing I am fairly sure of..... there is going to be a late fall early winter fish fry here, and I will have probably have fish to can as well. [beer]
     
  2. dragonfly

    dragonfly Monkey+++

    Tac...Sounds like you are having way too much fun!
    I'd like to do something similar,but by digging out a pit for a small pond...not sure how it would work...need a liner, gravel bottom and filters and aeration...
    Keep up with the project, it sounds neat!
     
  3. tacmotusn

    tacmotusn Mosquito Sailor

    Well I haven't killed off any more mass numbers of baby catfish. There have been some learning curve problems to overcome along the way however. My new water circulation pickup filter in tank one (the lowermost tank) was too efficient at stopping small particles and weekly I had to empty that tank, flush it completely, refill it and put the water circulation back in service. The small particles would accumulate instead of passing to the biofilter and the #1 tank would grow this nasty looking redish brown sludge. Eventually the pickup filter would be so packed up with crap that water circulation would slow significantly.
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    After cleaning the #1 tank 3 times in 2 weeks I knew something had to change. Since I had no plans to reintroduce fish to tank #1 until they we at least 6 inches in length, I decided to remove the fibermesh from the pickup filter cage.
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    I did so and put everything back in service. Within 48 hours, water circulation came to all stop. Something was wrong with the pump. I put the Aeriation system in service and removed and disassembled the pump. Also it was noted that small leaves had made their way into the water circulation clear tubing.
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    The pump was clogged with small leaves in a pump prefilter just before the impeller chamber. Circulation tubing was disassembled and flushed of leaves. A new tank #1 pickup filter was constructed using a 1.5 inch plumbing tee and 1/4 inch mesh galvanized hardware cloth. This should prove small enough to stop small leaves, and open enough to allow passage of small particles to the biofilter.
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    Next and most important, I added nylon screening over the top of the 1 by 1/2 inch hardware cloth tank top cover to keep small leaves out.
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    Shortly after I refilled tank one and shutdown the aeriation system and put the water circulation system back in service.
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    At this point turbidity and the same redish brown particles in tanks 2 and 3 was so bad you couldn't see a depth of 4 inches in the water. I was seriously concerned for the health of my baby catfish.
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    within 2 hours of restarting the water circulation system the water was clear enough in all tanks to see the bottom clearly and my happy fish.
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    Sunday night after dark with the over tank lights on, my baby catfish enjoyed their supper of floating fish pellet feed.
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    Over the last 2 weeks I had 2 more little catfish die. Cause unknown. One each found in tank 2 and 3. These may have been the 2 saved on day one from the pickup cage in tank 1.
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    Started with aprox. 390, still have 323. I hope and doubt there will be many more losses.
     
  4. kckndrgn

    kckndrgn Moderator Moderator Founding Member

    Very nice, can't wait to see the pics!

    Thanks for the write up.
     
  5. tacmotusn

    tacmotusn Mosquito Sailor

    Thanks. About once a month I will try and post an update. I have a digital camera I have never used.... and need to read the darn book to see how to use it. Then maybe some pics....[dunno]
     
  6. tacmotusn

    tacmotusn Mosquito Sailor

    Final post for this year anyway for the Catfish experiment. Over the last month I continued to have small losses of catfish fingerling on a regular basis. I started testing the water for PH and Ammonia on a regular basis as well as draining off about 40 to 50 percent of the total water twice weekly and replenishing the water with well water. My PH levels were always within the levels recommended for catfish at 6.5 to 9 and the Ammonia levels ranged from a one time high of 3.0 to an average of 0.5. At this point it appeared as the biofilter was doing its job and the water was remaining relatively clear all the time. The catfish fingerling were feeding actively and all seemed to be on track until the last 2 weeks. My constant slow fingerling loss never stopped. By the end of April I had lost overall a total of 94 fish. In the last 2 weeks those constant losses increased drastically. ie; -44, -22, -19, -57, -12, -54, -37, etc etc. I have no answers whatsoever. All I know is all factors I was told to monitor and or correct for were, but yet fish slowly then rapidly died off. The whole thing has become an expensive failure of an experiment with no answers. I have no one close to me to go to to try and find answers or insight to correct things and do this right so this for me is probably just a dead issue. Had I truly been counting on this to supply food there would be empty bellies and unhappy people.:oops:
     
  7. ISplatU

    ISplatU Monkey+

    Sorry

    Sorry about your losses, I was really enjoying reading your experiment.

    I hope my experment I just started with Amaranth goes better than yours.
     
  8. tacmotusn

    tacmotusn Mosquito Sailor

    Me too! The main problem I have with the whole fish thing was that I asked for outside input and had a couple of experienced folks who had done this before look at my setup, and could see nothing wrong. we talked in detail and still nothing....?
     
  9. ISplatU

    ISplatU Monkey+

    Yes I just read your Amaranth thread, and also learned that it is because you brought back that thread in Back to Basics, that I learned about it for the first time.

    Frank
     
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