Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract Full Text

Status of catfish production in Malawi.


Malawi capture fisheries have drastically declined. The focus of the nation is now on aquaculture as a viable option to increase fish production. The commonly cultured fish, tilapia species, have been blamed for slow growth largely because of precocious breeding habits. Introduction of fast-growing exotic culture species has been restricted due to a fear of their potential negative impact on the biota and complex ecosystems of Lake Malawi. The main focus is to screen fast-growing indigenous species for aquaculture. Catfish has been identified as a promising fish for aquaculture because of its rapid growth rate. There are five catfish species found in Malawi including, Clarias gariepinus, Clarias liocephalus, Clarias ngamensis, Clarias stappersii and Clarias theodore, of which Clarias gariepinus is the most popular catfish species cultured. Catfish species are cultured in polyculture with tilapia. The current production of cultured catfish is constrained by the inadequate supply of fingerlings. There are very few hatcheries producing catfish fingerlings and the survival rates in these hatcheries are very low. Prospects for catfish culture are encouraging, following existing high market demand, development of secondary industries such as the manufacturing of fish feed, and commitment from the government of Malawi to promote its development. Despite these prospects, there is an urgent need to perfect the technologies for nursing the hatchlings and ensuring grow-out for marketing. In addition, catfish production should go in tandem with a breeding program that will improve its performance under various culture environments. Past and current research activities are highlighted in the paper. Priority areas in catfish culture include promotion of its production, encouragement of private sector involvement in fingerling production and grow-out fish production, as well as the development of a brood stock management and breeding program.