Theses and Dissertations



Karunakaran, Ganesh K.

Committee Member

Tucker, Craig S.

Committee Member

Roy, Luke A.

Committee Member

Avery, Jimmy L.

Committee Member

Johnson, Jeff W.

Date of Degree


Original embargo terms

Embargo 2 years

Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access


Forest Resources (Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture)

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D)


College of Forest Resources


Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture


US catfish producers, seeking to reduce production costs, adopted technologies and production systems with the potential to increase the catfish pond productivity. Catfish pond intensification was accompanied by increased operating risk due to increased reliance on operating inputs. Split ponds were one adopted production system. The US catfish industry has adopted four split-pond variants differentiated by water circulation mechanism. Variants include the slow-rotating paddlewheel, the modified paddlewheel aerator, the screw pump, and the axial-flow turbine pump. Initial investment ranged from $54,400/4-ha ponds to $71,150/4-ha pond. Mean annual gross fish yield ranged from 12,876 kg/ha to 16,984 kg/ha. Net returns were positive for all designs under current economic conditions. The modified paddlewheel aerator and slow-rotating paddlewheel designs show the most promise for adoption. US catfish producers use multiple production strategies of varying intensity level, species produced, and pond design. Commercial farm data were used to quantify the economic risk of six commonly used catfish production strategies. Second order stochastic dominance (SOSD) was exhibited by multiple-batch and intensively aerated production of channel catfish over low intensity culture of channel catfish. Higher intensity hybrid catfish production strategies exhibited SOSD over medium intensity culture of hybrid catfish. Variations in fish yield, feed price, and feed conversion ratio were the primary contributors to variations in production cost. Hybrid catfish production strategies were dominated by yield (production) risk and channel catfish production strategies were dominated by price (market) risk. Off-flavor has been a persistent problem in the US catfish industry and contributes to economic risk. The cost of off-flavor was quantified at the farm level. A survey of catfish producers carried out in 2022 (n=54) revealed that farms representing 85% of the foodfish production area followed management practices for curbing off-flavor. The average annual off-flavor prevalence and the associated processing plant sample rejection rate was 27%. Off-flavor caused harvest delays averaged 23 days. Copper sulfate and diuron were used for managing off-flavor with diuron being the most popular choice used on 78% of the surveyed area. Direct annual cost associated with off-flavor management on catfish farms amounted to $39.9 million ($2,325/ha or $0.272/kg) in 2022.

Available for download on Friday, May 15, 2026