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SRAC Publication No. 322 Southern Regional Aquaculture Center June, 1990 Red Drum Production of Food Fish James T. Davis* Production of food sized red drum is Good results are obtained with one now being practiced using two gallon of liquid 10-34-0 fertilizer per methods. The more conventional acre added when water is 1 foot deep. method is semi-intensive culture in A second gallon per acre is then ponds. The other method, intensive in- added when the pond is full. Further door raceway culture, is unproven fertilization usually is not required as from an economic standpoint. This uneaten feed and fecal material will series of publications will focus on adequately fertilize the water when pond production. For more detailed in- feeding starts. formation on red drum production con- sult the other fact sheets in this series Redfish (Sciaenops ocellata) A recent development in starting these or the revised Manual for Red Drum small fingerlings is copied from the Aquaculture published by the Texas catfish industry. Fingerlings are Agricultural Extension Service in critically low temperature of the water placed in the pond as soon as the 1990. will determine the success of pond cul- water depth reaches 1 foot. Water is ture of red drum in the future. then added to the pond at a rate of 6 Overwintering inches per day, and the fish are fed Stocking three times daily. The shallow depth The major factor affecting the com- enables the fish to find the feed more mercial production of food sized red Most fingerling red drum are stocked readily. drum in outdoor ponds is their normal into ponds for growout at a rate of growth rate. Twelve months (two 2,000 to 4,000 per acre. The higher When stocking fish more than growing seasons) are needed for the rate may be attempted where good 6 inches in length, ponds should be fish to reach marketable size. This quality saline water is readily avail- fertilized if a suitable plankton popula- means that fish will have to be over- able and experience indicates prob- tion does not develop within 2 weeks. wintered. The cold weather in Decem- able success. Water quality and pond Plankton population should be dense ber of 1989 killed most red drum in depths are discussed in SRAC Publica- enough that light penetration does not outdoor ponds. The only survivors tion No. 321, Red Drum: Site Selec- exceed 3 feet. were in reservoirs or tanks receiving a tion and Pond Construction. Ponds should be filled at least 1 week but not The date of stocking can vary but constant supply of warm water. should be set as soon as pond water more than 2 weeks before stocking The following discussion is based on fingerlings less than 2 inches in reaches 50°F. Red drum will feed at successes to date. The occurrence of length. The water should be fertilized this temperature and can survive at when entering the pond. The amount temperatures 5 or 6ºF lower if a cool * The Texas A&M University System and analysis of the fertilizer will vary. front passes. Feeds and feeding made to assure that all feed is eaten. this period. Measurements also are Follow these general rules: taken during the late afternoon and Opinions differ on the best feed for evening to predict the possibility of fingerling red drum. Based on field tri- q Feed the fish, not the pond. low night-time dissolved oxygen als to date, a floating pellet containing q Do not feed in the rain as fish will levels. If a regular schedule of measur- 35 percent protein is an economical not feed. ing and recording the dissolved feed that provides good growth. Feeds oxygen in each pond at 6 a.m., 6 p.m. should have at least 12 percent fish q Cut feeding rate by 1/2 when water temperatures exceed 90°F. and 10 p.m. is followed, it is possible meal, and the addition of shrimp head to be quite accurate in this prediction. meal tends to improve palatability. q Unless adequate aeration is avail- Corrective action may be taken by Other ingredients are usually soybean able, cease feeding when more pumping or using aeration as meal, ground than 4 consecutive days of over- described in SRAC publications 370 yellow corn, a vitamin premix and cast weather have occurred. Feed- and 371 on pond aeration. minerals. ing may be resumed after the first day of sunshine. Monitoring the temperature, salinity Pellet size must be small enough to be and pH also is important. Each of swallowed. If the pellets are too large, q Adjust feeding during periods of these can be affected when well water fish will not utilize the feed well. If high humidity or low pressure. or surface water is added. Both sur- the pellets are too small, or Oxygen tension is low and fish face and bottom water sampling are a meal feed is used, then much will be are sluggish. important to make decisions about lost on the bottom of the pond. Do not q Morning is the preferred time to flushing the pond to remove accumu- change the type or size of feed sudden- feed. If maximum growth is lated feed and fecal material, break up ly. Fish moved to a new location desired, split the feeding between stratification and increase or decrease should be fed the same feed used pre- morning and evening. salinity. Correction of undesirable viously for at least one week. Change water conditions based on regular sam- feed type or size gradually over a q Feed in water less that 4 feet pling often determines economic suc- period of at least deep. Deep waters tend to be cess in red drum production. 7 days. lower in oxygen content and fish may not feed. Harvesting After the proper feed is selected more decisions are required. Most farmers q At least 10 percent (preferably 25 Timing of harvest is critical. The feed fish manually. For optimum percent) of the pond area should most important factor is market growth, fish should be fed ap- be covered when feeding. availability. If fish are sold for imme- proximately 3 to 5 percent of their q Red drum do not feed well below diate processing, the pond can be body weight daily until they reach 1 60°F. During cool weather feed seined with a grading seine that cap- pound. The 3 percent rate is common. on warm sunny afternoons. tures fish of desired sizes. Remaining Above 1 pound, 2 percent of their smaller fish will have more space in body weight is adequate. Do not at- q If fish stop feeding, determine the cause immediately and correct it. which to grow and less competition tempt to use ready-made feeding for food. Multiple harvests yield tables. At best these “short cuts” will Don’t resume feeding until the ad- verse conditions present are cor- more pounds per acre. If fish are sold fail to assure maximum growth. At for use in fee fishing operations, they worst they will either underfeed the rected. must be handled gently with mini- fish, which will result in poor growth, q During the summer months do mum stress. Fish should not be fed for or overfeed the fish and cause water not feed for at least 24 hours 24 to 48 hours before harvest, and quality problems. One short cut that before harvesting the fish. well aerated, cool water should be has worked well is to feed a floating pumped into the pond for 4 to 6 hours pellet and provide all the feed that the Water quality before seining. fish will consume in 15 minutes. Feed fish at least twice a day until they The most critical component of water When the seine is pulled near shore reach 8 inches. Larger fish usually are quality for red drum is dissolved and fish become crowded, aerators fed only once per day. oxygen, just as it is for other species and/or fresh water should be avail- of fish and shellfish. A reduction in able. This practice minimizes death Under the best conditions, fish will growth is apparent when dissolved losses from excessive stress. double their weight every 30 to 60 oxygen levels drop below 4 ppm. days depending on size. Therefore, in- Below 3 ppm the fish become If a complete harvest is desirable, the crease the amount of feed fed daily or stressed, go off feed and may suc- pond can be drained after most fish at least weekly. Calculation of a cer- cumb to diseases. Experienced pond are removed by seining. If the drain tain percentage of body weight does managers know that dissolved oxygen pipe is of appropriate size, the remain- not mean this is exactly what the fish is lowest in the early morning hours ing fish can be drawn through the pipe will eat. A continuous check must be and measure dissolved oxygen during and collected in nets. If the drain pipe Table 1. Preliminary projected income statement for a hypothetical 120-acre commercial redfish (red drum) farm (first 5 years). PROJECTED TOTAL HARVEST AND YIELDS: lst 2nd 3rd 4th 5th Total harvest, whole tbs. in 1,000s: o 427.5 427.5 427.5 427.5 Average yield, whole Ibs. per acre: o 3,563 3,563 3,563 3,563 GROSS SALES: (in 1,000s) Redfish (Red Drum), whole fish: $0.0 $102.6 $102.6 $102.6 $102.6 Redfish (Red Drum), processed fish: 0.0 481.5 481.5 481.5 481.5 TOTAL GROSS SALES: $0.0 $584.1 $584.1 $584.1 $584.1 DIRECT OPERATING EXPENSES: (in 1,000s) Fingerlings (if purchased) $14.1 $14.1 $14.1 $14.1 $14.1 Feed, yearlings and growout fish $48.8 $133.4 $127.8 $122.3 $116.7 Processing 0.0 30.1 30.1 30.1 30.1 Fertilizer 1.0 4.7 4.7 4.7 4.7 TOTAL DIRECT EXPENSES: $63.8 $182.3 $176.7 $171.2 $165.6 GROSS PROFIT: ($63.8) $401.8 $407.4 $412.9 $418.5 OTHER OPERATING EXPENSES: (3.0% Inflation/Year) (in 1,000s) Salaries, manager and technicians $72.4 $74.6 $76.9 $79.2 $81.5 Electricity 10.7 56.4 58.1 59.8 61.6 Wage labor 24 man-hrs/pond 1.0 2.5 2.6 2.7 2.7 Land leasing fees 13.5 14.0 14.4 14.8 15.2 Total depreciation 74.5 126.7 89.5 67.1 67.1 Business insurance 10.0 10.3 10.6 10.9 11.3 Professional fee 15.0 5.0 5.2 5.3 5.5 Licenses and property taxes 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.4 4.5 Car and truck expenses 6.0 6.2 6.4 6.6 6.8 Miscellaneous expenses 5.0 5.2 5.3 5.5 5.6 Pond and other maintenance 10.0 10.3 10.6 10.9 11.3 TOTAL OTHER OPERATING EXPENSES: $222.1 $315.3 $283.7 $267.1 $273.1 TOTAL DIRECT AND OTHER EXPENSES: $285.9 $497.6 $460.4 $438.3 $438.7 NET OPERATING INCOME BEFORE TAXES: ($285.9) $86.5 $123.7 $145.8 $145.4 ESTIMATED INCOME TAXES:* $0.0 $22.9 $38.9 $48.9 $48.7 NET OPERATING INCOME AFTER TAXES: ($285.9) $63.7 $84.8 $96.9 $96.7 *Estimated income taxes do not include alternative minimum taxes and other taxes applicable to corporations. is too small, fish must be picked up by provided a market for farm raised fish. food conversion ratios red drum re- hand when the water is removed from Most of these processors sell to quire 2 to 2 1/2 pounds of feed per the pond. wholesalers who transport the fish pound of gain. Additional costs are fish directly to retailers. For fish very similar to those projected for the Hauling containers for fish are recom- grown at inland locations this is not a channel catfish industry. This seems mended in other SRAC publications. ready solution. For best results, fish should be kept to show a cost of production under ideal conditions that would ap- alive until they reach their market des- Other possible outlets for red drum proximate $1.15 per pound when the tination. Fish will be more acceptable are sales to fee fishing operations. At cost of fingerlings and labor, amor- and less likely to have undesirable present this is an unexplored market tization of debt and delivery to a flavors if they are kept alive until because of the failure of fish to live processing plant are added. Because processed. overwinter. If warm water is avail- the market has not been tested, the able, red drum could be kept in fee profit picture is clouded. The general- If fish cannot be kept alive, then they fishing ponds throughout the year and should be sold gilled and gutted on ly quoted price of $1.30 to $1.35 per furnish a valuable recreational fishing pound for whole, live fish leaves a ice. This procedure provides accept- opportunity. At least one small able results. very small profit margin at 3,500 operator processes the fish at his pounds per acre. production facility and sells directly Marketing to the public. This method of market- A preliminary projected income state- The most recent figures available ing has the advantage of higher fish ment for a hypothetical commercial (1986) show that the market for red prices. The disadvantage is a very redfish (red drum) farm is shown in drum was 13.5 million pounds. Most long sales period rather than selling Table 1. of the landings come from the Gulf the fish atone time. There also is the possibility that future health regula- To develop accurate predictions on Coast. Because the Gulf is now closed profitability of a red drum operation, to commercial capture of red drum, tions will mandate standards for even the smallest processing plants. it is recommended that the prospec- this seems to show that aquiculture tive producer take advantage of one of production of red drum should have a the decision making computer ready market. In addition, several Production economics programs. These are described in states have passed laws that allow Very limited data is available on ac- detail in SRAC Publication No. 380, only red drum produced in aquacul- tual production costs at commercial in- Computer Software for Aquaculture. ture installations to be sold in the state. stallations. Four operators produced Processing plants on the Gulf have and sold marketable red drum during traditionally processed red drum and the past two years. Based on reported This publication was supported in part by a grant from the United States Department of Agriculture, Number 87-CRSR-2-3218, sponsored jointly by the Cooperative State Research Service and the Extension Service.
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