First and foremost, it is essential to understand that the African catfish is a remarkably resilient species, showing a high resistance to infections. In the rare event that catfish does fall ill, the cause is almost always linked to environmental or management issues. It is vital to address the underlying cause of the issue in a comprehensive way, while also ensuring that the disease itself is treated appropriately.
Recognizing signs of African catfish diseases is relatively straightforward:
1. Abnormal behavior
2. Physical abnormalities such as shrinking barbels, red spots or ulcers on the skin, open belly, and swollen head kidney.
Bacterial infections, often caused by gram-negative bacteria like Aeromonas sp., can be treated with antibiotics like Oxytetracycline and Trimethasulfmix, following a proper diagnosis (antibiogram). Ideally, a fish disease specialist or veterinarian should assist farmers in administering the treatment. However, we have encountered issues in Africa where incorrect dosages are used due to a lack of knowledge. This not only fails to help the diseased fish but also leads to the development of antibiotics resistance.
To tackle this, African catfish hatcheries should be well-prepared with a stock of common antibiotics and treatment protocols, ready to address any problems promptly and effectively. By being proactive, they can mitigate disease outbreaks and protect the health of their fish stocks.