Frequently Asked Questions

Ninety-four percent of all U.S. Farm-Raised Catfish is raised in Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi. In 1985, the U.S. Farm-Raised Catfish industry in these four states employed approximately 6,000 people and contributed roughly $2.1 billion to each state’s economy. Today, the U.S. Farm-Raised Catfish industry employs more than 13,000 people and contributes more than $4 billion to each state’s economy.
Heartland Catfish processes either pure channel catfish or hybrids of blue catfish and channel catfish grown in Heartland-managed ponds or contract ponds managed by trusted grower-partners.
Heartland Catfish is known for its consistency. Achieving that consistency begins with the selection and mating of mature catfish. Mature catfish remain in production an average of 8 to 12 years, depending on where they are grown, and lay 3,000 to 4,000 eggs annually per pound of body weight. Once the eggs are laid and fertilized, they are collected and taken to special hatcheries designed to replicate the natural environment. The eggs hatch after seven days and move to the next level of maturation, called “sac fry” because of the attached yolk sacs that supply their food.

As the food sacs are depleted, the tiny catfish begin to swim and are moved to special ponds where they grow into fingerlings. When the fingerlings are about 4- to 6-inches long (the size of an index finger), they are placed in man-made ponds filled with fresh water pumped from underground wells.

After 18 months to two years, or when the catfish reach about 10 pounds each, they are harvested with seines (large weighted nets) and loading baskets, then taken to processing plants in aerated tank trucks.

Once the catfish reach the plants, the entire production process takes less than 30 minutes, making top-quality, Heartland Catfish among the freshest fish available. The catfish is cleaned, processed and placed on ice or frozen to a temperature of 40 degrees below zero using an individually quick-frozen (IQF) method that preserves the taste and quality of the fish. Heartland Catfish is then sold as whole fish, steaks, fillets, strips and nuggets, as well as marinated and pre-breaded products.

It takes about 18 months to two years to grow a 2-pound fish.
A full-grown fish averages between one and two pounds.
The largest ingredient in Heartland Catfish feed is soybean meal, with some corn and rice ingredients. The feed is routinely assayed for moisture, protein, fat and fiber, and periodically inspected for selected micronutrients to ensure nutritional value. Each batch of feed is checked for physical characteristics, including floatability.
Heartland Catfish is raised in environmentally controlled, clay-based ponds, filled with fresh water pumped from underground wells and filtered by alluvial aquifers. The average pond, constructed by building above-ground levees to serve as natural barriers, is 10 to 20 land acres in area and 4- to 6-feet deep. The fish are fed a scientifically formulated diet of high-protein pellets that float on top of the water. Heartland Catfish is subject to Hazard Analysis & Critical Control Point Program (HACCP) regulations and is inspected by the U.S. Department of Commerce at the processing plants before it can carry the “Certified Processors” seal, confirming it has met the highest standards set by The Catfish Institute.
Fish tend to adopt the flavor characteristics of what they eat. Because Heartland Catfish is fed a scientifically formulated diet of high-protein pellets that float on top of the water, it has a consistently mild, slightly sweet flavor.
Heartland 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 U.S. Farm-Raised Catfish, can make a difference.
Heartland Catfish is raised in freshwater ponds with closed systems and has little impact on the environment. The National Audubon Society, Monterey Bay Aquarium and Environmental Defense all recommend U.S. Farm-Raised Catfish as a safe environmental choice.
Heartland Catfish is not given any added hormones. Under normal growing conditions, Heartland Catfish is antibiotic-free; only in rare instances when medication is required to treat an illness is Heartland Catfish treated with a necessary dose of antibiotics.

There is no iodine added to the feed or the water of Heartland Catfish.
Please visit our Find Heartland page to find the retailer and restaurant locations nearest you.