Fish farming is a popular business in Nigeria and all over the world. It’s increasingly growing popular because of the demand for healthy animal protein.
Today, thousands of people even youths venture into fish farming thereby reducing the rate of unemployment, improving the economic situation while satisfying the needs of the people. Still, this business opportunity is yet to be harnessed as demand for fish outweighs supply.
If you are an aspiring entrepreneur or an investor looking for a viable business opportunity to invest in, fish farming is a good option.
This article will guide you in starting your fish farming business. Read on.
Fish Farming In Nigeria
Fish farming also called pisciculture is the cultivation of fish by artificial means for commercial purposes. It is a form of aquaculture farming (involving aquatic organisms like fish, mollusks, shrimps, crustaceans, and aquatic plants). It involves breeding and rearing of fish under controlled conditions like in tanks or ponds.
Nigeria is one of the largest aquaculture producers in Sub-Saharan Africa. According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, the fish farming business employed over 13,000 people in 2012 in Nigeria. Also, fish farming just like other agricultural areas is encouraged by the government and can receive financial support from the government and other institutions.
Fish farming thrives in most parts of Nigeria especially Southwest, South, Southeast, and North Central. The most farmed species of fish in Nigeria are catfish and tilapia, even though Nigeria has an environment that supports the farming of other tropical species of fish.
A fish farm is considered to be well planned when the water control structure, different pond compartments/sizes and other management structures complement each other.
Types of Fish Farming
There are various types of fish farming in Nigeria which will be explained in the following paragraphs;
This is an artificial way of reproducing fish. It is a process of hatching, breeding, and growing fishes throughout the various stages of the life cycles.
It involves the collection of eggs from injected broodstock. The eggs then hatch into larvae and subsequently into fry, before growing into fingerlings.
Basically, broodstocks are held in maturation tanks until their seeds can be used to produce another fish.
Tilapia Fish Farming
Tilapia is one of the common types of fish cultivated in Nigeria. It is a warm-water fish, with a rapid growth rate and comes in larger sizes compared to other fishes. Tilapia fishes grow in a freshwater environment such as streams, ponds, lakes but mostly not in brackish water.
Cat Fish Farming
Catfish is the most commonly farmed fish in Nigeria. It can be reared on a small or large scale. Farming catfish involves creating ponds, breeding of fingerlings, or juvenile to maturation stage.
Other common kinds of fish farmed are:
- Ornamental fish also called aquarium fish. They are beautiful, fancy, and very colorful.
- Crab; the growth rate of crab is very fast and is of high demand in the market.
- Shrimp; the market demand for shrimp is high. It can be cultivated on a small or a very large scale.
- Salmon; these are carnivores fishes and are also reared in commercial quantities.
- Carp fishes are omnivorous fishes and are reared in large quantities.
Since we now have good background knowledge of what fish farming is, let’s proceed to the steps to starting your fish farm.
Step By Step Plan On Fish Farming
The first thing in any business is to create a business plan. It is a very crucial part of setting up your business. Writing a business plan involves carrying out feasibility study, documenting goals and objectives, and doing proper market research to know what is obtainable.
A well-documented business plan can give you access to loans and other financial support both from government and investors. In writing a fish farming business plan, the following information needs to be documented;
- Executive Summary
- Goals and Objectives
- Products and Services
- Market Research and Strategy
- SWOT Analysis
- Financial Projection
- Possible business expansion
Register Your Business
After the business plan has been created, the next step is to register your business. By registering your business, you become one of the certified business owners in Nigeria and can enjoy every benefit tailored to registered businesses.
Therefore, you will need to register with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), the agency in charge of business registration in Nigeria. Depending on the ownership type, you can register as an incorporated entity or as a sole proprietor.
You can log on to the CAC website and follow the processes or reach out to ReDahlia, a firm that supports entrepreneurs. ReDahlia makes CAC business registration seamless for business owners. All you need is to provide the necessary documents and you will receive your certificate in a few days.
Fish farming is a knowledge-driven sector that needs adequate training or experience to effectively function. Depending on the way you intend to operate, fish farming is beyond putting juveniles in water and feeding them. It requires some technical skills for you to get an optimal yield.
Training will help you identify healthy fish, prevent disease outbreaks, understand the type of medication, and the time of administration of the medication.
Also, when you are trained, you will know the right feed and proper ration to feed the fish. Basically, training will teach you the practical knowledge of the business.
You can learn under a practicing fish farmer or take some practical courses from tested training centers. Of course, you can learn through online courses but it’s best to learn under a farmer except you have enough funds to do trial and error.
You can’t possibly rare a fish in the air, you definitely need a land. For fish farming, you can buy a land, lease or set apart little space in your compound (if you can).
The size of the space your need will depend on the scale you want to operate. Whatever scale, ensure you get a spacious land that can accommodate the pond.
Construct a Pond
Once the location is settled, the next thing is to construct a pond. Fish water ponds are usually rectangular or circular in shape with varying sizes. The choice of the pond depends largely on the land expanse, location, water resources, the scale of production, the purpose of fish rearing e.t.c
There are different kinds of fish ponds;
Earthen Fish Pond
The earthen pond is also called natural pond. Building it involves digging the ground in swampy clay, or grounds with clay soil/flowing underground water.
It can be done manually with shovels and diggers or mechanically with the use of excavators in a carefully selected site. Its depth can be 1.5 meters deep at the shallow and 2 meters deep where the fish is bred.
In an earthen pond, fishes are bred in an environment similar to their natural habitat and can accommodate large number of fish. However, you must ensure your farm is not in a riverine area to avoid flood.
Concrete Fish Pond
A concrete fish pond is a popular pond made of concrete, blocks, and cement. It is usually built by a civil/construction engineer in a professional way such that fish activities can be closely monitored. It is durable, very hygienic for fish and is not prone to flood.
A concrete fish pond is more popular in urban areas, and can be constructed below or above the earth surface.
Plastic Tank Fish Pond
This involves breeding fish in a tank made of plastic or rubber. It comes in different sizes and shapes and can be purchased from tank manufacturers. It can be easily maintained and used indoor. You need to create a water management system that allows easy inflow and outflow of water.
A plastic tank pond is cheaper and can save space.
Fibreglass Tank Fish Pond
This kind of fish pond is used to bred fingerling and fry at a particular temperature before they are moved to the outdoor tanks. It is a transparent tank that can be moved around with ease and monitored at a glance.
Cage Tank Fish Pond
A cage tank fish pond exists in a riverine area. It takes the form of an enclosed cage and is placed inside freshwater. Here, fishes are reared in their natural habitat and this helps them grow fast.
Synthetic Leather Fish Pond
Just like the earthen fish pond, a synthetic leather fish pond takes the same process. The only difference is that rubber/leather carpet is used to line the pond walls to prevent water seepage. They are used for raising juveniles and broodstock.
Wooden/Tarpaulin Fish Pond
This is an artificial fish pond construction. It involves the use of wood on the outer part and tarpaulin for inner covering. It requires a coating to prevent seepage.
Water System For Your Fish Farm
Water is the lifeblood of a fish. Once fish is taken out of water, it can’t survive for too long. Fish can never be cultivated without water, so you need a reliable water supply.
Natural water free of chemicals and waste such as borehole is considered more suitable in a fish farming business. You can create a borehole with an overhead tank as a reservoir.
Also, you should factor in how the water system can be connected to the ponds i.e water inlet and outlet installation. It should be constructed in a way that wastewater can be passed out and freshwater supplied on a daily basis.
If wastewater is not passed out and replaced with fresh water constantly, it can cause fish mortality which will make you lose your investment.
Fish are stocked in different sizes; fry, fingerlings, post-fingerlings, or juvenile.
You can decide on what size to rear, but the most common that grows to become table size within three months is the juvenile size fish.
You can begin to hatch or buy from a hatchery and put them in your pond. Just ensure you go for the healthy species so you don’t begin to experience fish death.
The next step is to feed the fish either once or twice daily. What you put in is what you get in terms of feeding. For instance, a well-fed fish can be good for harvest in about 2-3 months.
In feeding fishes, the size of the fish determines the kind of feed. For instance, a catfish fry in hatcheries are fed finely ground meal or flour type feeds containing 45-50 percent protein. While larger fingerlings are fed small floating pellets (1/8 inch diameter) containing 35 percent protein.
As they grow, the ration increase. Also, antibiotics can be mixed in their feeding combination.
There are two ways a fish can be fed:
Broadcast feeding; this involves going around the ponds to spread floating feed for the fishes to eat. It’s mostly done for fingerlings to post-juvenile stage fishes.
Spot Feeding; it requires feeding the fishes in a spot. It can be done after 2-3 weeks of stocking the juvenile fishes. This way, you can monitor how the fishes are eating.
However, you must ensure the fishes are not overfeeding as this can result in a loss in the business.
As long as you are feeding the fishes well enough, after about 2-3 months they become marketable. Marketable size farmed fish can be harvested in two ways; from a drained water or a filled pond. Also, you can do a partial harvest by capturing the largest fishes to increase living space and make the pond more habitable for the smaller fishes.
For general harvesting, it is advisable to start your harvest early in the morning when the weather is cool. Start draining the water by turning on the draining tap if it is a constructed pond or using water pumps for earthen ponds. Then use a basket to get the fishes out into another prepared basin of water. Also, you can use harvesting nets.
The market opportunity for the fish business in Nigeria is huge. For instance, Nigerians consume about 2 million tonnes of fish in a year. Besides, the demand for fish far outweighs the current production.
Hence, selling your fish is never going to be a problem as long as awareness was created. It’s advised to start your marketing before the fish is harvested.
To create awareness, online space should be utilised well. Then, approach hotels, bars, café, public event organisers, and homes.
Also, you can smoke, package, and distribute to supermarkets, stores, and other small shops where customers are sure to patronize.
In addition, reach out and partner with other fish farmers who have a huge demand beyond what they cultivate.
Fish farming is a profitable business area regardless of the fish specie you cultivate. Good management practice and proper monitoring of the fish will contribute to the overall success of the business.
Also, you do not need billions of cash to start a farm. As long as you can afford to construct a pond and water system, buy initial juveniles, and have enough money to feed the fish for 2-3 months, you can venture into the business.
If you have started a fish business or are about to start one, we will like you to share your experience with us in the comment section.
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