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African Hito (Catfish) Farming in the Philippines: How to Raise Catfish

If you are searching for African Hito in the Philippines and want to know how to grow it, you are on the right page.

Everything is now getting expensive and there is also a shortage of supply of food whether you have money to buy it or not. The government, under the newly-elected President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, is encouraging people to produce whatever type of food for personal consumption. 

Marcos’ focus is on food production and this is the very reason why he, as of now, takes care of the Department of Agriculture (DA). Aside from crop production, fisheries are another important source of food whether it is from the sea or cultured. The government has been suggesting people raise tilapia, milkfish (bangus), catfish (dalag), and catfish (hito) as primary fish species to grow. Of course, many of us already knew that tilapia can be grown and raised even in aquaponic tanks but what about the other three mentioned species?

Bangus needs a large fishpond as well as dalag but hito on the other hand can be raised in concrete tanks. 

The government is promoting two species of hito, the native hito (Clarias macrocephalus) and the African hito (Clarias gariepinus) or the African sharptooth catfish, with the latter being the priority. 

The African sharptooth catfish was introduced all over the world in the early 1980s for aquaculture purposes and the Philippines has already enough source of fingerlings for small-scale farming. You can find these fingerlings online through Facebook Groups. There are also enough videos on YouTube on how to properly grow this high-yield fish crop. They are much larger than our native catfish, grow faster, and have higher commercial value. They can even be grown on plastic drum tanks. 

If you have a 10-square-meter concrete tank, you can raise up to 1,000 African Hito fingerlings. You can put 75 to 100 fingerlings per square meter of space and feed them 90% protein. This type of concrete tank catfish farming can be done in your backyard.

african hito
Hito farming in the Philippines image credit Tateh TV

Pond Preparation for African Hito

The size of the pond depends on your available space and resources that include initial capital but we suggest you start small especially if it is your first time. You can dig a minimum size of 10 square meters surface area with a depth of 1.5 meters.

If you want to conserve water, you can also build a concrete pond of the same size. The following must remain natural clay and should not be concrete in order to maintain oxygen and some natural feel. Concrete ponds save a lot of water but if you have a rice paddy, digging is preferred.

Stocking of releasing of fry (fingerlings or young catfish)

The number of fingerlings depends on their size. 

  • If their size is 3cm to 4 cm, you can put 80 to 100 fingerlings per square meter – harvest after 5 to 6 months
  • If their size is 5cm to 6cm, you can put 60 to 80 fingerlings per square meter – harvest after 4 to 5 months

Feeding and Cannibalism on African Hito

Catfish are generally carnivorous but they also eat all types of garbage in the wild. Inside the pond, feed them with 90% meat sources. These can be ground chicken intestines and other chicken scraps, worms, insects like termites, groundfish, fish mean, and canning and slaughterhouse wastes.

They should be provided food twice every day to avoid cannibalism. Also, you must have an extra pond where you should put the bigger one. Close regular monitoring is needed. You must always separate the big ones from the small ones otherwise they will eat the smaller ones.

Breeding and Producing your own fingerlings

Pick the biggest fish and separate them. Female starts to produce eggs when they reach 8 to 9 months. The artificial method is proven to be very effective following the video below by Dexter.

This guide covers only the basics. If you need an in-depth guide and plan a bigger business, you must contact the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), or get a guide from the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD)  –  UP Los Baños, (049) 536 0014,  (049) 554 9670.

Frequently Asked Questions on Hito Farming in the Philippines

How many months do you harvest catfish?

Farmed catfish can reach the market size of 80-200 g in 3-5 months from an initial stocking size of 3-5 g at 10 fingerlings/m2.

Is catfish farming profitable?

Under the right circumstances, catfish farming can be very profitable. Like other forms of farming, however, catfish production involves substantial capital investment and many risks. Growing catfish successfully also requires daily attention.

How many months does it take a catfish to reach 1kg?

If they are well-fed, they should reach an average of 1kg within 6 months.

How do I start a catfish business?

Short answer

  • Do the research.
  • Secure financing.
  • Acquire flat land for a pond
  • Construct the pond.
  • Plant grass seeds around the pond to help prevent erosion.
  • Fill the pond with catfish.
  • Feed the fingerlings catfish feed.
  • Harvest the catfish when they weigh 0.5 to 1kg, depending on your buyers’ preferences.

What makes catfish grow faster?

Protein is a key material to forcing catfish to reach a desirable weight. The best sources of protein are meat scraps, fishmeal, chicken intestines and other scraps, termites, insects, etc. Include 60 percent of protein in the forage of a catfish. Catfish requires a huge amount of protein as it grows quicker than other fishes and it is carnivorous.

How much will it cost to raise 1000 catfish?

The answer to this question really depends on your land and resources. If you have a rice paddy, it will be easier to dig and supply the water. If you don’t have one and prefer a concrete pond, that cost maybe between P60,000 to P100k including fingerlings and feeds until harvest.

What is the size of the pond for 1000 catfish?

The typical size of a pond to house 1000 catfish is at least 10 square meters in surface area and 1.5 meters in depth.

Which feed is best for catfish?

If meat is not readily available, the main plant protein sources used in catfish feeds are oilseed meals, such as soybean meal, cottonseed meal, and peanut meal. Some other oilseed meals could be used but are not generally available on a timely basis and at an economical cost per unit of protein.

Is catfish a profitable business?

According to one case study, an initial capital of P105,000 could be invested to get a revenue of P177,860 and an annual net profit of P73,157. These data show that the catfish business is a profitable business

How long does it take catfish fingerlings to mature?

For any farmer to benefit from catfish maturity, he or she must wait. However, some catfish species mature earlier, say 4 months, while others mature late (5 months and above). African hito matures between 4.5 months to 5.5 months.

How often should I change my catfish pond water?

Generally, water in a fish pond should be changed at least once in two weeks and also as soon as the oxygen level of the water is low. Therefore careful monitoring should always be carried out to ensure that the water oxygen level is maintained in its good quality as nothing kills the fishes faster than bad water.

Do catfish eat rice?

Rice and even rice bran can be used in catfish feed at levels up to about 35 percent of diet as long as it is pelletized. The digestible energy of corn germ meal is lower than that of corn grain.

Where to buy African catfish fingerlings in the Philippines?

African hito fingerlings are available online mostly in Facebook groups. Just search and join some groups with an interest in the fishery.

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