About The Farm


California Bountiful Magazine Article
about Imperial Catfish Farm – “A California Fish Story”

fishfarmer-magazine.com article
about Imperial Catfish Farm – “Fat Cats”

Imperial Catfish is one of the largest producers of channel catfish and blue catfish in California. The Farm has been sustainably growing catfish for over 40 years.  Imperial Catfish is the only major supplier of blue catfish in California. We supply our live catfish to asian food markets and recreational fishing lakes in Southern California, year round. If you live in Southern California and want catfish delivered to your private pond, contact Mike at Offishial Pond Stocking. They can safely and quickly deliver up to 500 pounds per delivery.

Demand for new ways to feed the world’s 10 billion or so humans by 2050, will inevitably rely increasingly upon the food humans can raise themselves.  As wild fish stocks have plummeted, aquaculture is picking up the slack. Today, aquaculture supplies half of all fish for human consumption (up from 26% in 1994), according to the UN.

Our Farm is approximately 600 acres in size. We supply our famous “SILVER” channel catfish and our “BLUE” catfish year round to the Asian food markets throughout Southern California.

Light colored “Silver” Catfish

In these food and fish markets, you will see our live catfish on display in live fish tanks where they are individually selected by the customer for dinner that evening. You won’t get catfish fresher or better tasting than that! Our catfish are very light or silver in color and NOT dark or black in color, like many of the other catfish farms provide.

Under our best management practices and the proper culture procedures we practice on our Farm, the channel catfish and blue catfish we raise, are very healthy, never have an off-flavor, unhealthy look or strange smell.  Our catfish are raised the HEALTHY way.  NO chemicals, pesticides or antibiotic feeds are used on our farm. This makes our catfish a much healthier alternative and many fish farms can’t make this claim!

Knowledgeable fish buyers and brokers will avoid buying the black or darker colored catfish. This is because they know that these catfish are usually grown in small round concrete tanks or raceways along with Tilapia or other farmed fish, and the taste and overall health of tank grown catfish can be much less desirable. 

Our production ponds are approximately 10 acres in size. Each pond is made of the finest clay soils which helps produce this popular and highly prized, light colored “silvery” channel catfish.

Clay Soil
You could make pottery out of this clay!

Raising catfish in freshwater natural earthen ponds is an environmentally friendly and responsibly conscious method. The clay soils prevent much of the water from percolating into the ground, conserving water usage, and most people are surprised to learn that we about the same amount of water, a typical vegetable grower uses on a yearly basis.  The National Audubon Society, Monterey Bay Aquarium, (Seafood Watch Guide) and Environmental Defense all recommend Farm-Raised Catfish as a safe environmental choice.  Farm-Raised Catfish is a lean fish and an excellent source of protein. It is low in saturated (bad) fat and is a moderate source of polyunsaturated (good) fat and omega-3 fatty acids. According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, moderate fish consumption – one to two meals a week – may cut the risk of sudden cardiac death in half. The results show that any kind of fish, including Farm-Raised Catfish, can make a difference.

When selecting catfish, always look for the lighter colored or “SILVER” catfish at the markets. These “silver” channel catfish, or “Super Cats”, are the catfish grown on our Farms. With just one taste of our catfish, you will be hooked. The texture is perfect, and the mild sweet flavor is unforgettable.

Off-flavor complaints have NEVER been an issue with our catfish. There are many reasons for this but mainly it’s because our catfish are grown in big natural earthen clay ponds, never in small concrete tanks or raceways.

The clay soil provides many benefits
The clay soil provides many benefits

Our clay soil provides a very fine particulate which is suspended in the pond water and acts as a sunscreen for the catfish. This sunscreen and the rich clay soils the ponds are constructed of, help produce the highly prized light color or “Silver Catfish” which is the most sought after color by the Asian consumer.  Pond culture is the preferred method of raising healthy and great tasting catfish.  In pond culture, catfish are free to swim and grow in a large natural pond environment where they are able to feed and forage on natural foods like bait fish or zooplankton and various types of insects.  The nutritional benefits that these natural foods provide, helps supplement any missing nutrients that even the best commercial grade catfish feed might not be able to supply.

Seining the pond to harvest catfish for the market

Life in a natural pond environment is the best, it is also one of the reasons why our catfish adapt so well when they are stocked into recreational fishing lakes.  Our specialty is catfish, we don’t raise other types of fish.  Raising healthy, great tasting catfish is all we try to do.  Try a taste test with one of our “SuperCats” next time you purchase catfish and you will be in for a pleasant surprise. Our customers tell us that they never knew catfish tasted so delicious and if given a choice, they will only buy and eat our lighter colored or “silver” catfish in the future.

Our catfish are expertly fed with only the finest quality feeds, scientifically engineered and nutritionally sound to ensure the highest quality catfish, with a healthy high body weight, perfect body shape and a delicate mild taste that can’t be beat.  Many catfish farmers might use an inferior or less expensive grade of feed thinking that they might save some money, but we have found this to be penny-wise and pound-foolish.  Excellent growth and good water quality is best achieved by using only the best quality feed available.

We air blow the feed from our feed tractor out into the ponds and as soon as it hits the surface of the water a feeding frenzy erupts and thousands of catfish scramble to the feeding area.

The fish are fed a scientifically formulated diet of high-protein pellets that float on top of the water.  Sometimes you will see what looks like a wave of water coming to the feed which is thousands of catfish racing to the food. Within only a few minutes, nearly every pellet of food is vacuumed up by what looks like a sea of catfish mouths breaking and thrashing the surface.  The Imperial Catfish Farm is one of the few catfish farms where this kind of aggressive feeding is seen.  Other catfish farmers say they have never seen catfish feed this frenzied.

Feeding catfish is both an art and a science which requires expert knowledge and experience. This is because each pond is very different from the others. Each will have its own feeding requirements and the fish in each pond will respond very differently to the food.  The goal is to give the fish plenty of food to be able to grow quickly without overfeeding them.  Feeding too much and allowing excess feed to remain in the water will negatively impact water quality and good water quality is probably one of the most important factors in catfish farming.

Our Farms are located in the warm climate of Imperial County which is located between the Salton Sea and the Mexican Border. Imperial County is one of the Nation’s major sources for agriculture.

Aerial-Map of Farm Location
Aerial-Map of Farm Location

This warm climate provides us with the longest catfish growing seasons in California and enables us to produce larger catfish in a shorter period of time.  In fact, due to the superior genetics of our catfish and this perfect climate, we can grow a catfish to market size in as little as 15 months or less, when other producers throughout the State might take up to 2 or 3 years to grow the same size catfish.

Each year in May we set up our hatchery and begin the process of hatching millions of catfish fingerlings. Every year, our goal is to hatch over 3,000,000 fry to help us keep up the huge demand for high quality catfish.

Thousands of new catfish fry

The hatching process is truly an experience to behold. We do not purchase any fry or fingerlings from other producers.  This is because we want to protect our genetic lines and know that our broodstock is the very best and has been expertly selected over many years. Our fish are known to grow fast and are strong and aggressive.  Additionally, and most importantly, they have healthy genetics and have been very disease resistant.  Early in the spring of each year, quality brood fish are selected for rapid growth and good market characteristics. These brood fish are placed in ponds that have been dried and cleaned and filled with fresh quality water.  After a few weeks, the spawning cans are checked for egg masses.

Egg mass of probably 3,000 eggs

When found, these eggs are removed from the pond and taken to our hatchery facility where they are artificially incubated. The eggs hatch in 4 to 8 days, depending on water temperature. The newly hatched fry remain in the hatchery for 6 to 10 days.

Arturo inspecting egg masses in the hatchery

At that time they are transferred to our carefully prepared nursery for grow out to about 1.5 inches. These fry are then sold or transferred to production ponds for the final grow out phase.

We are also the major supplier of catfish to the recreational fishing lakes in Southern California. Our “Super Cats” are stocked in many of the State, County, and City park lakes throughout Southern California. The California Department of Fish and Game is one of our largest customers. We also supplied Los Angeles City and County, Orange County, San Bernardino County, Riverside County and many lakes in San Diego County. Additionally, we are also a big supplier for many of the popular “pay” lakes in Southern California like Santa Ana River Lakes and Anaheim Lake.

One of the many HUGE catfish we stock into recreational fishing lakes
Full limits of catfish
Full limits of catfish

Currently, Santa Ana River Lakes, are the ONLY Lakes in California that are regularly stocked with big blue cats. They have the EXCLUSIVE on the “Blues”.

One of our delivery trucks

We have our own modern fleet of oxygen aerated fish transport trucks and experienced drivers to get the catfish safely to their destinations.  Imperial Catfish Farm is centrally located and only a few hours from either Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino or San Diego Counties. This convenient location insures that your catfish will be delivered healthy, lively and with minimal transportation stress.  Lastly, a note on Quagga Mussels which have become and issue of great concern to many in the Southern California area. Aquaculture has never been implicated in the spread of Quagga Mussels and it is our intent to keep it that way. Here is a letter we sent to the California Department of Fish and Game, just prior to their inspection of our Farm for any evidence of Quagga Mussels, which they found none.  It is a brief explanation of the Quagga Mussel prevention methods actively in use at Imperial Catfish

Our management and production teams were assembled based upon their hands on experience, knowledge and expertise in catfish farming and business management. All of our production team members have either owned, managed or worked on channel catfish farms some for 20 to 35 years, and have pioneered many of the popular fish farming techniques used today.

Arturo Esparza, is the Imperial Catfish Farm Manager. He has worked on the Farm for many years and is responsible for much of our past success. Arturo holds degrees in Oceanography and has extensive knowledge and experience in all facets of aquaculture. We call Arturo our efficiency and production expert. He is responsible for managing the Farm and monitoring all of our fish inventory, which is a difficult job to do. Our accomplished team is fully self-sufficient and is responsible for making Imperial Catfish, the success it is today!

NOTE: We are the only catfish farm in California that has a huge supply of “Blue Catfish” available for the supermarkets and they are available EXCLUSIVELY from our Fish Brokers. CLICK HERE to read about the benefits of blue catfish and why they could bring many customers to your supermarket.

Private Pond Stocking:
If you live in Southern California and want catfish delivered to your private pond, contact Mike at Offishial Pond Stocking. They can safely and quickly deliver up to 500 pounds per delivery.

Please give us the opportunity to compete for your business. If you fishing lake operator, pond owner, fish broker or a food market looking for the very best quality live catfish available, please contact us below and we will respond promptly. Thank you!!


Thank you for visiting our website!

GC3 Limited Partnership, dba: Imperial Catfish
P.O. Box 188, Imperial, CA  92251
(760) 587-6126 – Arturo (Farm Manager)
(888) 871-3080 – Craig (Owner)
(714) 459-7879 – (Fax)

[email protected]