In fish farming, cage culture is one of the means of culturing fish in most ponds and waters. You can produce up to 2,000 pounds of catfish
per acre in cages and also have fish loose in
the pond. This level of production is not
recommended because it will increase
management problems and the likelihood of
water quality problems. For production of fish for home uses, a safer limit is 1,000
pounds of catfish in cages per acre. Cage Construction Various materials and designs can be used to
construct cages, but be sure the materials
will be able resist deterioration. Hard ware cloth and
metal screens rust quickly. Plastic coated
wire screen is satisfactory. Plastic screen is
preferred and nylon and polyethelene net can also be used. Use the largest mesh size that
will contain the size fish you plan to stock
while allowing sufficient water circulation
through the cage. One-half-inch mesh or
larger is preferred. You can buy ready-made cages, or you can
build a cage with a minimum of effort and
materials. For home uses, a cylindrical cage
four feet high and four feet in diameter is a
good size (Figure 4). Build a cylindrical cage by forming the
screening material into a cylinder and
fastening metal or fiber glass hoops to both
ends Cut out a circular piece of
screen and attach it to the bottom. Attach
another piece to a third hoop for a lid. Lace the screen to the hoops with a light electrical
wire, such as 18 gauge bell wire. Be sure to
run the wire through each mesh. This adds
strength and seals gaps where fish might
escape. A feeding ring is essential. Without it, water
will carry feed out of the cage before it is
consumed by the fish. A feeding ring can be
made of screen with a mesh size small
enough to prevent feed pellets from passing
through it. It should extend from the cage lid to about eight inches below the water
surface. A three-foot diameter feeding ring
can be fastened to the cage lid with
monofilament line or a four-foot diameter
feeding ring can be fastened to the interior
upper portion of the cage. The cage should float so the lid is three to six
inches above the water. Any method of
flotation can be used. Styrofoam blocks are
best; even plastic bottles can be used. Plastic
bottles such as milk or antifreeze jugs will
deteriorate in one or two seasons. Cage Placement, Select an area where there will be at least a
foot between the cage and pond bottom. Also,
select an area where water will circulate
freely through the cage. The end of a dock or
pier is usually a good location. If a dock is
unavailable, the cage can be attached to a metal or wooden pipe driven into the pond
bottom. More than one cage can be attached
to a durable nylon rope or cable strung
across the pond. In selecting an area also
consider how easy it will be to feed and
observe the fish. Stocking the Cage Except for stocking rates, all other factors
discussed in the section "Stocking Channel
Catfish into a Pond" apply to cages. A four-by-four-foot cylindrical cage will hold
about 500 fish grown to an average size of
one pound each. The total weight of fish in
cages cannot exceed the weight the entire
body of water would support if the fish were
loose. A safe level is about 1,000 pounds of catfish per acre of water, including fish in
cages and those that may be loose in the
pond. Feeding Catfish in Cages Feed caged catfish daily, since they do not
have access to natural food in the pond. Use a
commercial floating catfish feed that contains
at least 32 percent protein plus essential
vitamins and minerals. Use ¼- or 3/16-inch
pellets. Feed only what the fish will consume in a 15- to 20-minute period, and never
exceed 35 pounds of feed per acre a day.
Feed at the same time each day. When the
water temperature is below 65°F. follow
guidelines for winter feeding described in the
section "Feeding Catfish in Ponds." Raising Rainbow Trout in Cages With some exceptions, rainbow trout can be
raised in cages during the winter months in
most Georgia ponds. In most areas the
growing season is about four months.
Rainbow trout must be stocked when water
temperatures are below 70°F and harvested in the spring before the water reaches 70°F. Seven-inch long fingerlings should be stocked
so they will reach one half to three-fourths
pound at harvest. Stock no more than 300
fish in a 4-foot diameter, 4-foot cage. Trout should be fed a commercial floating
trout feed that has at least 40 percent crude
protein and all essential vitamins and
minerals. If possible, feed twice a day. Trout
will consume about 2 percent of their body
weight per day when water temperatures are above 50°F. When water temperatures
are below 50°F, feed 1 percent of their body
weight daily. Or, as a general rule, feed what
the fish will eat in a 30-minute period. Remember that rainbow trout are more
sensitive than channel catfish to handling, low
oxygen, and high temperatures.
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