Fish go through different life stages between birth and adulthood. Juveniles start by laying eggs and hatching into immobile larvae. These larvae are not yet able to feed themselves and carry a yolk sac that provides stored nutrients. Before the yolk sac completely disappears, the small fish must mature enough to feed on their own. When they develop enough to feed themselves, the fish are called fry.
In addition, they have developed scales and working fins, and the transition to juveniles is complete, which is called fingerlings, which are usually about the size of a human finger. The juvenile stage continues until the fish are fully grown, sexually mature, and interact with other adult fish. Both fry and large fish need to absorb enough nutrients, so high-quality floating fish feed is very important at every stage.
Let’s learn about the growth cycle of catfish
Fish that are mature enough to breed will continue to breed on catfish farms for up to six years. Mature female catfish lay 3,000 to 4,000 eggs per pound of body weight each year. Mature females lay eggs and males fertilize. The fertilized eggs are then taken to the hatchery. A catfish hatchery created specifically to mimic the natural catfish ecosystem.
The eggs hatch after seven days and are then transferred to grow-out tanks in the hatchery. The term “sac fry” refers to this stage of development because the associated yolk sacs provide the baby fish with nutrition. The fish will learn to swim and feed once the yolk has been consumed. They will then be transferred to specific ponds where they can start to thrive.
Fingerling is the following phase. The fingerlings are transferred to larger, freshwater ponds after they are 4 to 6 inches long, or around the length of an index finger, from which they earn their name. These freshwater ponds are typically 4 to 6 feet deep and 10 to 20 acres in size.
Catfish are fed diets that vary in protein content and pellet size depending on their stage of development, but their diet always includes mixtures of soybean meal, corn, wheat, vitamins, and minerals. The purpose of these pellets is to encourage fish to feed on the surface of the water rather than the bottom by making them float. Fish are known to take on the flavors of the foods they eat. Giving fish a particular, professionally designed diet assures the highest level of quality and flavor. To attain harvest weight, the fish need between a year and 18 months in these ponds.
Channel catfish that are mature in both the sexes are now taken from grow-out ponds and transferred to broodstock ponds. Once relocated, they are permitted to spawn, and the provided spawning cans are used to collect the eggs.
The fish are caught in huge weighted nets called purse seines and loading baskets, when they weigh about a pound each. They are then put into large refrigerated trucks and shipped to processing plants. Each tank is pumped with oxygen, while the fish are transported alive to various processing plants.
At the factory, the fish is live, washed, processed and individually snap-frozen or placed on ice. The entire process from fish to frozen fillets takes 30 minutes. This quick process ensures freshness and high quality. The processed fillets are shipped to various retailers and restaurants.