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How To Start A Profitable Fish Farming Business

Thousands of Nigerians venture into agriculture businesses yearly. This movement not only brought growth to the industry, but contributes some efforts to reduce unemployment and promote economic growth. While many farmers focus on various on other profitable businesses, several others focus on aquaculture.

According to reports, “Aquaculture, also known as aqua farming, is the farming of aquatic organisms such as fish, crustaceans, molluscs and aquatic plants”. While Aquaculture covers multiple facets, fish farming is the most common in Nigeria, and Africa as a whole.

Fish farming is a profitable business that’s widespread across various parts of Nigeria. The insatiable demand for fishery products like Tilapia, Catfish, and Mackerel (Salmon) in Nigeria has constantly self-promoted the steady growth and expansion of the industry. These factors, coupled with the current support of institutions, the Nigerian government, and several other African countries to promote agriculture and also support fish farmers, makes the industry one of the most lucrative agricultural business segments to venture into.

 Low Operating Cost:

The cost of starting up and running an aquaculture farm is low, compared to many other agricultural business ideas. In direct comparison to poultry farming, fish farming has a lower operational budget because of its cheaper fish feed and running costs.

Also, while poultry products are highly susceptible to dangerous diseases (like Bird Flu) which could cost the farm owner a lot of wasted investments if not handled properly, fish farming products have lesser threatening vices.

Government Support:

With the governments around Africa currently embarking on a large campaign to motivate the people on the continent to invest in agriculture with attractive capital incentives, it only makes this moment a perfect time to consider fish farming as one of the lucrative agriculture business ideas to venture into.

A Explosive Market:

The market potential for an aquaculture business is enormous in Nigeria, Africa, and many other countries in the world. With the population of Nigeria at currently over 170 million, and expect to exceed that of the United States by 2050, the market potential for a fish farming business cannot be understated.

Aside from the fact that fishery products are one of the most sought after and consumed agricultural products in Nigeria, it is also cheaper than meat, making it an affordable meal when the buyer either cannot afford to purchase meat, or simply just wants to have a fish meal.

The explosive market size of this business makes it one of the most important agricultural business opportunities to venture into for any new, existing, or non-interested farmer.

6 Things You Need To Know Before Starting A Fish Farm

Location Of The Fish Farm:

When selecting the location for your fish farm, you need to consider it’s proximity from the nearest town, the security in the vicinity, the presence or absence of fish prey, and more.

Ensure the environment for growing your fish farm is ideal for your business to thrive.

Pond Planning, Size, Design, Construction, And Consideration:

You need to determine the type of pond that you need constructed. For a levee-type pond, a flat area that has access to a well could be used. But for a watershed pond, steeper areas near a natural source of water are to be used.

It’s usually best to contact the services of an aquaculture consultant. They’d get your full requirements, examine your goals, determine what you truly need, and ensure the construction work and general requirements of the fish ponds are properly met.

Source Of Water Supply:

The source of water supply to the fish ponds is important to proper development and maturity of your fish farm for commercial use. It’s important to have a proper borehole system built in the vicinity to ensure a reliable source of water supply. This gets even more crucial with the fact that the water would have to be changed on a regular interval, and a lack there in, of proper adequate water supply to ensure the survival of these fishes, would lead to a considerable loss in investments.

You must know that rain water and chemically treated water are totally out of the fish farming process. They’re unsafe for the fishes, and cannot be recommended for standard use.

Get a steady flow of fresh water, so your pond can thrive.

Land Mass:

You need to consider the size of the land you intend to use to grow your fish farming business. Usually, a plot of land or two is great to start out a fish farming business. But where you don’t have the luxury of land space, you can start out in your backyard, and grow from there.

Acquiring the land mass to set up your fish farm should be strategically done. You need to get an affordable property in a not-so rural area, but still close to a major city. This way, you can purchase the lands a lot cheaper than you would have in a city, and also have the luxury of purchasing as many affordable plots of lands as possible.

A Good Knowledge Of Running The Farm:

This is probably the most important thing to know. You must have a sound knowledge of how to run an aquaculture business. Attend a lecture or a seminar on aquaculture, so you can learn a lot more about the rudiments of fish farming. Equipped with this knowledge, you’d gain valuable information about fish farming, and every it takes to turn out successful.

Sample Business Plan/Feasibility Study On How To Start A Catfish Farming Business 

Step 1:

With $500 to $750 (100,000 to 150,000 Naira), you can setup a 10ft X 10ft earth fish pond with a mild depth of about 4ft to 6ft. This constructed dimension would be able to hold about 1,000 grown fishes. You can also construct a concrete pond, use a plastic tank, or a drum pond.

Step 2: 

Before you start stocking your fishes, you need to disinfect your pond with an anti-fungi and an anti-bacteria. You should also balance your fish pond’s organic and ion concentration by fertilization with banana leaves or poultry dungs.

Step 3:

You need to purchase fingerlings and juveniles for your fish pond. Fingerlings usually don’t cost above 20 Naira per each, and Juveniles usually don’t cost above 40 Naira per each. An economic recession and other vices can fluctuate the prices of these fingerlings.

Step 4:

Your have to feed your fishes once or twice a day. Feeding carries the bulk of the operating cost. Catfishes in hatcheries are to be fed meals that are properly ground, or feeds that that are flour-like, and contain 45 to 50 percent of protein. Small floating pellets ( about 1/8 inch diameter) containing about 35 percent of protein should be fed to larger fingerlings. Floating feed of approximately 5/32 – 3/16 inch in diameter containing about 28 to 32 percent of protein should be fed to advanced fingerlings (which are about 5 to 6 inches long). Proper feeding intervals can get the fishes to weigh as much as 1.5kg after five months of adequate care.

Feeding the catfishes is generally about 60% of your entire farm costs. Most of these catfish feeds are imported into Nigeria and cost an average of 5,500 Naira per bag 15kg bag. The way the meals are fed to catfishes have to be carefully executed because 700 two months old fishes can finish a 15kg feed bag in just 10 days! This high cost of catfish feed can greatly affect your profitability.

Another alternative is to source locally made fish feeds. These usually cost about 3,500 Naira per 15kg bag. With fewer individuals producing locally made catfish feed, finding and gaining access to these can pose a big challenge.

You have to feed your fishes in such a way that they you don’t pollute the water. This can be achieved by practising spot fishing. You shouldn’t also change the water immediately after feeding, to avoid the fishes vomiting their meals. And you should constantly apply supplements like Livestovit and Aquapro to protect your fishes from diseases.

Step 5:

As your fishes grow, you need to constantly sort them to avoid larger fishes feeding on the smaller ones. This is best done by putting fishes of the same size inside a pond together to reduce their cannibalistic instincts. This doesn’t just ensure a bulk survival, but also ensures adequate growth and development because, they can equally compete for food, water, and space.

Step 6:

Change the pond’s water on a regular basis to improve the fishes longevity, and reduce the chances of diseases springing up on your fish farm. Clean water should be used to replace the existing water every 2 to 3 days. Without proper water management, most of your fishes wouldn’t alive to maturity.

Step 7:

With the cost of catfishes at about 500 Naira per kilogram in Lagos, 650 Naira per kilogram in Makurdi, and 750 Naira per kilogram in Abuja, Nigeria, you need to do a really good market feasibility study to understand the type of buyers that’d most likely patronise your own fish farm. Ideally, this should be the very first thing you do before even starting a fish farm, but assuming you’ve already done this, contact potentially identified buyers, and offer to sell your fishes to them on more favourable terms. Make sure your buyers are aware of your fishery products about 2 months before they’re fully grown, to increase your chances of selling out most of your merchandise quickly.

The ultimate goal of every fish farmer is to grow their fishes to achieve a body weight of 1kg within the shortest possible time. If this is managed and done right, the fishes can achieve this size in four to six months.


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Written by EB


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