5 Common African Catfish Diseases And their Signs 


5 Common African Catfish Diseases And their Signs 


What do you do when you see your fish floating in the water? What comes to your mind when you see that the catfish you stocked are dying one after another? I bet you will lose hope in the business due to the fund already invested. That is the reason we decided to walk you through the common diseases that could be affecting your catfish business and possible solution to them.



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Some of these diseases could be part of the causes of catfish mortality you probably have been experiencing on your farm. They could cause loss of appetite, bloating, stunted growth, or even weakness which could result in the inactivity of the fish.



Meanwhile, training and information are must-haves if you must succeed in catfish farming. Why is this important? When one has not undergone any form of training before embarking on this kind of business losses are imminent.


Training in catfish farming will arm you with the skills to scale through. Information comes as a result of reading and constant research for improvement. The more farmers research, the more they get informed about the happenings in the business.


Having said that, let’s continue with the main focus of this article which is common catfish diseases and their treatment.


Common Catfish Diseases

There are known and unknown diseases experienced in catfish farming yet their treatment seems difficult. However, let’s see the common ones.

READ ALSO: Water Quality Monitoring and Management for Catfish Ponds

1. Gill Rot: Gill rot is common in catfish and when it begins, the catfish will practically turn whitish in colour. Most of the time the disease affects their respiratory system which results in weakness leading to inactivities.


As a fish farmer, once you notice inactivity and the colour of your fish changing, is an indication that something is wrong. Quickly separate the affected one and start treatment immediately.


Note! Gill rot is an infection. That means that when one fish is affected it could be possible that others have been affected too. As you treat the sick ones also administer drugs to the rest of the fish.


2. Crack Head Disease: Crackhead disease is common in catfish especially the ones in an earthen pond. This does not mean that catfish in either concrete or tarpaulin pond cannot contract this kind of disease.


Other factors that could cause crack disease in catfish are poor water quality due to overfeeding or the accumulation of waste matter. Frequent pond water change will help in reducing the risk of your fish contracting this kind of disease.


Crackhead disease arises as a result of deficiency of vital nutrients in fish feed such as Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Calcium, and Phosphorus.


Perhaps you formulate feed yourself, make sure that these essential nutrients mentioned are applied in the feed. However, our article on the best catfish feed formula will be a good guide. Otherwise, stick to foreign fish feed.


3. Jaundice: It may surprise you to know that jaundice is one of the common diseases found in African catfish. Though mostly found in human beings, especially in newly born babies it exists in catfish as well.


Jaundice disease in catfish is a condition that turns the abdominal region of catfish yellow. This usually occurs as a result of excess bile pigment in the fish’s blood. This kind of disease results in loss of appetite, loss of balance, and an increase in mortality rate due to damage to the cardinal fish.


The major cause of this disease is poor water quality and improper stocking (overcrowding).

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4. Dropsy Disease: the major cause of dropsy in catfish is kidney failure. It is a bacterial infection that could also be caused by overcrowding. Overstocking makes it easier for disease(s) from one fish to spread to others at a faster rate. The symptom appears in form of bloating and loss of appetite.


5. Amenia Disease: In a typical African catfish is one of the common diseases that kill faster. Affected fish is always very black with a big head and tiny bodies just like kwashiorkor.


This disease is attributed to overstocking and inadequate feeding. To prevent this from occurring, sort the fish into their different sizes and ensure good quality feeding.


Possible Causes Of Catfish Diseases

Three common causes of catfish diseases are:

Presence of environmental pathogens

Low resistance of the fish (immune deficiency) and

Unsatisfactory water environment.

Other factors which could expose the catfish to diseases include but not limited to;

READ ALSO: How To Prevent Catfish Fry Mortality


Improper feeding

Disease organisms

Acidic water

Inbreeding and


To understand the calculation and stocking density for your pond, we have put together a “Guide on stocking Catfish in concrete pond” to help you.

ATTENTION: Click “HERE” to receive More updates directly on your WhatsApp!

For detailed information on the effect of the factors listed above, have a look at the causes of catfish mortality and how to prevent catfish fry mortality in case you are into hatchery too.


Sign To Look Out For

There are two major or common signs that could be a pointer that something is wrong with the fish stocked. These two factors are:


1. Reduced Feed Intake: This happens to be the first sign of many fish diseases. Once there is a drastic reduction in the speed at which the fish rush for food, just have it that something is wrong.



As a fish farmer, when you notice your fish no long rush for food, the next thing should be to sort them and critically observe to see what could be the cause.


2. Abnormal Swimming Pattern: Abnormal swimming pattern could be seen when the fish begin to float on water, jumping, lying flat, robbing themselves against the wall of the pond, moving in a circular pattern and losing balance in the water.


The best time to observe these signs is either in the morning or evening during feeding hours. This means that one must have to pay close attention to how the fish behave in the pond at all times.


We do everything possible to supply quality information for farmers day in, day out and we are committed to keep doing this. Your kind donation will help our continuous research efforts.


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