Raising Catfish In A Barrel

How to raise catfish in a barrel

How to raise Catfish in a barrel

Catfish is an excellent choice for the homesteader as the fingerlings catfish are inexpensive, delicious, and grow very quickly. A pond or an above ground pool is my preferred set up for the catfish, however raising catfish in a barrel is a fun inexpensive way to go.

Getting Started

To start you’ll need a 55 gallon barrel preferably food grade this will cost you around $20 bucks. At 8 inches from the bottom of the barrel drill a hole large enough to snuggly fit a tap assembly. Use marine sealant to ensure it is water tight and let sit for 24 hours before adding any water.

Attach an aquarium pump according to manufacturers specs and make sure the intake is screened so it doesn’t suck up your fingerlings!

Now you are ready to add water, before doing so find a nice shady area that is close to an electrical outlet so you don’t have extension cords running across your property. Fill the barrel with tap water up to 8 inches from the top and let dechlorinate for 24 hours before introducing your fingerlings catfish.

Once you are ready you can stock the barrel with up to forty fingerlings catfish, allowing them to get up 1 1/2 lbs before scooping them out with a net and into your frying pan! Give the fingerlings 4 hours before feeding so they can get acclimated to their new environment.

It is also advised to place chicken wire or a sturdy mesh screen on the top of the barrel to discourage any predators looking for a snack.

Now What?

Now that you have your fingerlings catfish stocked the upkeep is relatively easy, you need to feed them twice a day with either commercial fish food or you can grow your own earthworms and some tablescraps  (the ideal choice). Be carefully as to not overfeed them as it will muck up your water, I just feed them until they lose interest in eating.

You will also have to transfer out the water daily, I use a garden hose attached to the tap assembly that runs into my garden, and it does a phenomenal job feeding my plants as it is very rich in nutrients. Drain roughly about 15 gallons and replace with 15 gallons of fresh  dechlorinated water.

Monitor the temperature of your water to encourage growth keep the water between 70 to 80 degrees, they can survive at lower temps but tend to grow more slowly.

Final Thoughts

I Find the set up cheap enough (under 70 bucks) and by using the my tablescraps and my own earthworms the upkeep cost is next to nothing! The 15 gallons of water I use a day has benefitted my garden immensely so that is negligible as well. This is a great way to harvest 60lbs a meat a season, with no waste. If you haven’t considered raising catfish in a barrel, I highly recommend that you give it a shot!




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7 Responses

  1. Hello . I am about to purchase a home of my own , and would like to raise catfish / crayfish from tanks and pools . A year and a half of research has been done on this business . All comments welcome . TY , Chuck

  2. Did you actually do this? I have tried doing tilapia in a 55 gallon barrel and it seemed that between them fighting and the water getting fouled up I never could feed more than 1/4 pound of feed per day. Now if we figure at least half the feed will be wasted, then we are left with 1/8 pound of gain per day (and this is at optimal balance). It would take a long long time to get to 60 pounds of fish by growing them 1/8 pound per day. The tilapia tasted good in any case but I was hoping to try something less intense this time around. Back to my original question, have you actually done this or are you recommending this course of action based on articles you have read? Thanks!
    Melvin Stoltzfus recently posted…A Walk for LifeMy Profile

    • jeanne bailey says:

      Tilapia love duckweed. they thrive on it, and it multiplies so once you buy a spoonful you will have thousands of the tiny plants to work with.. it is full of protein and other needs of the fish.

  3. Robson says:

    this is very intersecting. Am gonna give it a try

  4. andrew lynch says:

    what can you use or different setup to keep flow of water going ? would you not need remove water if you had a aerator going also? what if you used a big open top water holder and pool pump and aerator ? just asking trying figure out i love catfish and want to try and start raising my own.

  5. Pete says:

    I might have to give this a go sometime. What is the best method for killing the fish once you net them out though?
    Also do you breed them , or just buy new fingerlings each time?


  6. george says:

    where do you buy fingerlings any good recommendations?

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