Mitigating Yellow Disease Threat in Catfish: Impact on Market Price

Catfish, renowned for its delicious taste and popular dishes like fried catfish or catfish salad, remains a favorite among communities. The versatility of catfish extends beyond its flesh, with almost all parts of its body, including bones, skin, and head, being utilized. Innovations in catfish processing are on the rise to maximize its potential, including skin chips, bone chips, biscuits, and more. This potential has encouraged catfish farmers to enhance their productivity.

According to data from the Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries (KKP) in 2022, Indonesia’s catfish production reached 1.06 million tons, valued at Rp18.93 trillion in 2021. The production comprises 34,915.83 tons from public fishing waters, valued at Rp1.13 trillion, and 1.03 million tons from aquaculture, valued at Rp17.79 trillion (Widi, 2022). Various methods, such as pond culture, pond polyculture, aquaponics, RAS, and biofloc, have been implemented to facilitate catfish farming.

A significant challenge in catfish farming is disease outbreaks, with Yellow Disease being a notable concern. Yellow Disease, easily identifiable by the yellowish coloration of the fish’s body, lethargy, and loss of appetite, results from elevated bilirubin levels in the fish’s serum due to inefficient blood cell breakdown by the liver. The disease can lead to substantial losses in catfish farming.

The disease is often triggered by poor-quality feed, emphasizing the importance of providing nutritionally complete feed stored in a dry environment to prevent mold growth. The presence of molds in feed can contain mycotoxins and mycelia, which can spread throughout the feed.

Yellow Disease can infect an entire fish population in a pond within 2.5-3.5 months, posing a dilemma for farmers who need to balance harvesting time with market demand. Infected catfish, although cheaper, are less appealing to consumers, leading to a drop in market prices. Mass deaths of catfish due to Yellow Disease incur significant losses for farmers and disrupt market prices, affecting the entire catfish industry.

To combat the disease and maintain market value, farmers must prioritize quality feed management, considering alternative feeds like rice bran and offal. High-quality pellets should still be provided periodically, with proper storage to prevent pathogen contamination. Deep knowledge of feed, water quality, and fish health is crucial for catfish farmers, especially beginners, to produce high-quality catfish with a competitive market price.

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