at this point, propably clear that 55gal drum won't work for all those catfish to eating size. THe point someone made about surface area is a very important one. Regardless of what you grow your fish in, surface area is the key. That is why commercial aquariums are all the low height ones. Having a tall aquarium might look nice on display but is a waste because it is the length and width that really matters, not the height of an aquarium. Only time depth comes into play is in temperature regulation for outdoor ponds. Then you need depth to help stabalize the temperature fluctuations.
For someone that wants to raise fish at their home, I think the easiest way is to do a backyard pond. Doesn't have to be fancy... you can just get one of the rubberized liners and dig a hole in the ground to make it. Or you can do a premolded plastic pond which is what we did at our last house. We didn't raise catfish but did have ornamental goldfish/koi and a single catfish in ours. We had a small molded pond but they do make larger ones that would be more suited for fish raising. Freezing is the only thing you have to consider with the above ground ones. We are in Texas so ours never froze and we didn't have to use a heater but in colder climates, heating it might be a problem although the in ground ponds are much less prone to freezing than above ground molded ones. Here is a pic of ours in winter.
did the fish die?
I started my adventure based upon the article posted previously about the catfish in a barrel.
Barrel will not work for more than one fish.
You must be able to test your water, get the test kits at Petco or wherever.
Buy the neutralizer in bulk, you will use a lot.
Whatever estimates people give you regarding water quantity, add a zero to the number. i.e. 100 s/b 1000
Regarding your tank - Two 500's is way better than one 1000. Something like this
When you design your system make your tanks circular with a bottom that slopes to a drain, then draw the waste off and flush it. Keep direct sunlight away from the system, keep leaves and grass etc. out as that stuff clogs your filters and drains. You will need to plan on re-circulating the water through a series of filters as well as adding makeup water. First pull the water not from the bottom, near it but not the bottom. Allow the solids to go to the center drain. Everything else should be pumped first to a solids settling tank, then overflow into the biologic filter cascade.
Use very large good quality Rubbermaid trash cans or stock feeders for the containers. Google "skippy filter". http://www.skippysstuff.com/biofiltr.htm Fish produce two types of waste, solids and liquids (ammonia). The solids clog the filters badly. Skippy raises Koi, go for the biggest way oversized filter. It will be too small. Catfish are pigs and need help.
Remove as much of the solids as possible before trying to convert the ammonia. This conversion is a two step process. Both use bacteria to do the work. Use a skippy filter and / or a gravel bed.
Quoted from Skippy’s - All along the food chain death has a hand in producing and continuing life. Everything alive is organic in nature. Once death occurs, a very interesting thing happens, dead organic matter decomposes. HOW? Well, it is our good buddies, them there old bacteria guys that take care of this chore for us. It goes something like this –– in the decaying process organic matter is decomposed into first of all ammonia, then nitrites to nitrates and finally into nitrogen. There it is, nitrogen. If you have ever fertilized your lawn or done any gardening work at all you know what nitrogen is PLANT FOOD.
This plant food is suitable for growing hydroponically. As your source of fertilizer nitrogen is a byproduct of raising fish, you are now into Aquaponics. I grew hydrilla in the tank to consume this nitrogen from the water. The hydrilla was then harvested as needed to go into the compost bin. The hydrilla is great for raising minnows. See how this works?
You will need extra oxygen as the temperatures rise, so plan for an extremely large air pump. Cascading the water helps and should be a given in your design, but have an airstone running full time, trust me on this. On a separate electrical circuit is the best plan.
Your bagged food is very perishable, it will go rancid faster than any other feed you have ever used, so protect from the heat. Keep it refrigerated if you can. Some of my worst problems began when the fish started refusing the bad feed. Bad feed goes into the compost bin, from there you can get into worms.
Have a second tank running to backup the water supply and dilute the bad stuff from the main tank.
Raising minnows in the backup tank is a very good idea. Start with them to condition your filters with ammonia and get the biological processes started. They can breed if the conditions are correct, and this gives you a great food source for the catfish. Also, if you get a leak that you cannot patch without draining the tank you have the option of putting the catfish in with the minnows until the leak if fixed. You then have a fixed tank and happy catfish. Minnows are cheap, say $10.00 for about 350.
I got my stocks of fish from Dunns Fish Farm in Monroe, AR.
I live in Katy, Texas. They run routes thru several states. Your favorite feed store can steer you to a local supplier if they are not on somebody’s route. Remember that zero I had you add before? Well here is where you get it back. When you ask how many fish a given amount of water can support, take one zero off the number. I.E. 1000 becomes 100. After you have done this for a couple of years then do what you want. This will save you big bucks, frustration, and those ‘looks’ from the wife. Trust me. BTDT Also beware of season differences in carrying capacity. Once we got a snail invasion from a new aquatic plant I got. The snail shells are problematic. We got a dozen large redears and they fixed the problem. See the Dunns website.
I will look for pictures from our backyard setup. We had started with the survival guy backyard barrel plan which cannot work, and worked this for almost four years. It was fun and very challenging as the rules were loose and I was somewhere between raising Koi and a farm pond. Neither rules really fit well. Now is the time to find bargains at the waterpond garden supply stores. Look for submersible pumps, piping and valves. You will learn a lot or spend a lot, maybe both if you are hardheaded like me.