Routinely monitoring water quality is important for the well-being and development of African catfish.
Elements to monitor include temperature, pH, and dissolved oxygen levels etc.
Use water testing kits to measure these characteristics and correct any deviations from the ideal ranges.
Consider the presence of harmful substances or pollutants and levels of nutrients and other elements in the water.
Regular cleaning and maintenance of the farming system is necessary to prevent the accumulation of harmful elements.
Monitoring Key Aspects of the Water;
The ideal temperature for African Catfish growth is between 26-32°C. Temperatures above or below this could lead to stunted growth or even death.
Unless you leave in extremely cold or extremely hot regions of the world, temperature control should rarely be an issue in earthen ponds.
However, it is best to have a thermometer on site, to randomly check the temperature to avoid any losses due to this, if you use other types of ponds, proving partial shades for the pond is important in controlling extreme temperature swings.
African catfish can survive within a pH of 6.5 to 8.5. Any water with a pH below 5.0 would lead to mortality, a pH above 8.0 would also lead to the death of your fish.
pH rise in earthen ponds is usually less gradual than in concrete ponds and tarpaulin ponds because the earth serves as a buffer.
In concrete ponds, and tarpaulin ponds, you are most likely to survive pH spikes every 3 or 4 days, largely depending on the quantity of fish stocked and the volume of feeds provided. Should you overstock, pH spikes can be as regular as daily occurance.
Use a pH Meter, each morning and evening, to accurately determine the pH levels to avoid pH spikes that can lead to the death of your catfish.
The excreta of catfish contains ammonia, from your fish feed, the ammonia levels in your pond continue to rise. If not checked, the ammonia could reach lethal levels that can lead to death.
We generally recommend pond ammonia levels not exceed 24 μM (0.34 mg NH3-N/L)
Below are some test kits you can use to check the ammonia levels;
SeaChem Ammonia Alert
Hagen Ammonia Test Kit
Mars Fishcare Ammonia Test Kit
Jungle Labs Ammonia Test Kit
Red Sea Ammonia Test Kit
LaMotte Ammonia Test Kit
Sera Ammonia Test Kit
The recommended level of dissolved oxygen for African catfish is 5-8 mg/L. We have already discussed that earthen ponds with open surfaces have the ability to oxygenate themselves.
We also discussed things like duckweed that can lead to oxygen deprivation even in earthen ponds and things and tools you can use to control that.
There are several ways to test dissolved oxygen levels in a fish pond:
Dissolved oxygen meter: This is a handheld device that measures dissolved oxygen levels in the water. Simply dip the meter into the pond and it will give you a reading of the oxygen levels.
Dissolved oxygen test kit: This is a more comprehensive testing kit that comes with chemicals and a special meter to measure dissolved oxygen levels. Follow the instructions provided in the kit to get a reading.
Winkler method: This method involves adding a specific chemical solution to a water sample, which will react with the dissolved oxygen in the water to form a precipitate. The amount of precipitate formed can be used to calculate the dissolved oxygen levels.
Saturation meter: This is a device that measures the amount of oxygen that can be dissolved in the water based on temperature, pressure, and other factors. It can give an accurate reading of the dissolved oxygen levels in the pond.
To continuously ensure proper oxygenation in your fish pond, we recommend the use of either of these;
Air stones or diffusers
Aeration fountains or waterfalls
Surface skimmers or agitators
Solar-powered pond aerators
Floating pond de-icers
Solar-powered floating fountain aerators