African catfish diseases

First of all it must be made clear that African catfish is a very though fish species, with a very high resistance to infections. If African catfish does develop a disease, almost always the reason for the disease is related to environmental or management problems. Off course a disease in African catfish has to be treated properly, but in the mean time work on solving the cause of the problem in a structural way.

Signs of African catfish diseases are easily shown:

  • The behaviour is abnormal
  • Abnormalities on the fish, such as barbels decreasing in size, red spots or ulcers on the skin, open belly, swollen head kidney

Bacterial infections (almost always caused by gram negative bacteria like Aeromonas sp.) can be treated after proper diagnosis (antibiogram) with antibiotics like Oxytetracycline and Trimethasulfmix. The supplier of the antibiotics should be assisting the farmer with the treatment. In most countries the supplier is a veterenarian specialized on fish diseases. Applying the right dosage of the drug to the African catfish is one of the problems I have encountered in Africa. Due to a lack of knowledge the antibiotics are used in too low dosages giving no direct effect to the diseased fish, but inducing resistance against the drug used in the pathogens. An African catfish hatchery should have the most common antibiotics in stock and should have the treatment procedures ready before any problem arise.