Catfish Hito Farming Guide
What is Catfish or Hito Farming?
Catfish farming is a form of aquaculture about raising, breeding and growing catfish. Philippines has the warm tropical climate ideal for catfish farming. Catfish, or hito is served as a popular meal in the Filipino cuisine as Hito Tamarind stew, grilled catfish, etc. Catfish can become a lucrative business when right conditions are meet. Catfish farming provides livelihood to many. Catfish are sold in wet market, along with other fish pond fishes like milkfish and tilapia. Catfish can be raised as well in inland tanks or channels that are designed to retain water for this aquatic creatures. Raising catfish is a profitable business like other freshwater cultures, but will require patience and persistence at times of typhoon and flooding. Catfish are more disease resistant. Price of catfish continues to climb as demand in the market continues to support the catfish industry of the Philippines.
Philippine Catfish and African Catfish
The endemic Philippine catfish or hito lives in freshwater. Endemic catfish are smaller than the African catfish which were introduced to increase the production due to their longer and heavier body. African sharptooth catfish has lighter gray color. These two catfish are the most popular catfish breed in the Philippines.
Current Production Data of Catfish
The 2017 data is not yet available, but the 2015 data from Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources reveals the complete information about the production of catfish in the Philippines. The data shows that there are 5 methods of catfish farming:
- Fish Pond – controlled pond, artificial lake, or reservoir that is used for aquaculture purposes and breeding of fish
- Fish Cage- floating cages made by bamboo cage and net that is used to stock fish in their local ponds. Cages are more adaptable than pens and are often deployed on rivers and streams.
- Fish Pen- largely restricted to lentic water bodies and are smaller than fish cages. It’s primary application is in culture of one specific fish.
- Small farm reservoir
- Rice Fish – fishes are being raised in rice fields
With this data, we can conclude that in order to start with your catfish hito business, you will need an area with a source of fresh water. Without this, you will need to find a location that has this requisite. There are fish tank models that can be used, but commercial and mass production catfish are concentrated on areas that meet ideal conditions. NCR does not have a number in catfish farming. NCR is a highly urbanized region. Region III has the highest catfish production from fishpond culture. It is no doubt that Central Luzon has good number of streams, rivers, and lakes that could support many fish cages for catfish. The great plain in the heart of Luzon provides support for a multitude of fish ponds that can raise a thousand metric ton of catfish.
Region 1 is the top catfish fish cage producer. It also produce catfish by fish pen cultures. BFAR has office there at Bonuan Dagupan City, Pangasinan. Region II has the highest produce via small farm reservoir method. Lastly, Region I only have data in terms of Rice Fish farming.
Price of catfish at market is Php130.00 to Php 145.00. With just few fish feed, you will be able to harvest catfish that could be sold at this price. The harvest will depend on the size of the pond and the mortality of the fry.
Catfish Farming Guide
Catfish farming needs enough stocking of fingerlings at 70 to 90 fingerlings per 10 square feet. Feeding must be 90% protein. Hito fry are available at local hito hatcheries. You may also ask BFAR if they have hito fingerlings available. They usually disperse tilapia and milkfish fingerlings. The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources have a Php10 million budget for its free fingerling dispersal project in Western Visayas this 2017.
Prepare your fishpond by choosing a desirable location. A desirable location is a partially shaded area. The dimension can vary but the ideal is 45 square meters or more. The fingerlings will be introduced to the pond environment by first submerging the plastic bag containing the fingerlings to the water for 3-4 hours. This will ensure the fingerlings will adapt to the water temperature and will not become stressed if suddenly introduced to a different environment. Give enough feeds accordingly.
Catfish needs to be fed twice a day. Daily feed amount is 7% of the catfish’s body weight to avoid excess wasted food. Trash feeds are introduced to the fishpond to provide the fishes with source of carbohydrates and proteins at instances when the fish remains small. Farm manure is given to improve weight. Other high protein trash feed can also be given like meat by-products, etc. and rice brand for carbohydrates.
Harvesting will be done when the fish are about 20 to 25 cm long. You can selectively harvest your catfish or the entire pond. Three to four inches fingerlings can be raised for 4 months while 1.5 inches fingerlings will grow in the next 6 months.