Fish farming falls under the animal production sector of agriculture, which can also be described as aquaculture. Aquaculture is the farming of aquatic organism like fishes, crustaceans, crabs etc., in fresh, salty or brackish water. Fishes are a known source for protein, and fish farming involves the planned growth and cultivation of fishes in tanks or proper enclosures for harvesting as food or commercial purpose.
Important aspects to consider in fishery include supply and demand, capital costs, operating costs, legal aspects and production capabilities. Evaluate the current market and see if there is room and demand for a new fish farm.
Furthermore, you need training once you decide that fish farming is a viable and profitable endeavor, it’s recommended that you work at an operating fishery to learn the ropes. There are a number of technical and managerial skills that you must perfect before venturing off to start the business. Working at a successful fish farm will teach you how to perform water quality management, disease control, feeding, marketing and processing skills. Without this knowledge, you may run into difficulties in the future
To start a fish farming business, here are few guidelines to help you make it a bit easier:
- Secure a Land
Any location is good since fish doesn’t cause any environmental disturbance. Look for land where you can get it cheap and buy. Depending on the capacity you want to operate, half plot of land is just good enough for average fish farm. If you already have a compound with leftover space you think can accommodate two or three ponds, you may use it. Make sure your land is close by for easy access.
- Construct Ponds
You need to engage the service of expert pond construction engineer or you go to another fish farm to get the specification and construction requirements. The plumbing work must be properly done to ensure proper drainage.
- Dig a Borehole
Adequate water supply is the lifeblood of fish farm and lack of it may result to disaster because water needs to be changed on regular interval. Naturally available sources of water such as borehole and river water are the most suitable. Rain water and tap water from chemically treated source is not recommended for fish cultivation.
- Overhead Tank
This is the water reservoir from which water is supplied to your ponds. This tank has to be connected to your ponds through plumbing system to make it convenient for water to flow into your ponds when needed.
- Juvenile Fish
Get your juvenile from another farm that specializes in supplying it. Juvenile fish is young fish that are used in starting fishery. You need to go for the high yield specie of catfish or tilapia and make sure you are getting it from a healthy farm.
- Get Training
Not the kind of training you get from one day seminars, you need to get attached to a fish farm for proper apprenticeship. For you to properly learn this trade, you need at least two months training on this.
Remember that your investment is at stake, trial and error is not good in business except you have unlimited funds to experiment with.
There is no doubt that fish farming is very lucrative and profitable in Nigeria. You need to get it right by drawing complete business plan and following it to the later. You need to apply good management skills and follow the acceptable standard. If you do all these, you are sure to make good profit from your fish farming business in Nigeria.
Benefits of Fish Farming
Fish is one of the highest sources of protein. It is a low-fat high quality protein that is filled with omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins such as D and B2 (riboflavin). Fish is also very rich in calcium and phosphorus and is equally a great source of minerals, such as iron, zinc, iodine, magnesium, and potassium.
Fish is a very big source of Omega-3 fatty acids which is extremely beneficial to human heart; Omega-3 helps to keep our heart and brain very healthy. Since bodies don’t produce Omega-3 fatty acids, the only source through which we can get it is by what we eat, that is where fish comes to the rescue.
Fish farming is very profitable. With proper planning and good management, Fish farm does not cause any environmental hazard. Unlike poultry farming, you can setup fish farm anywhere, including residential areas. If you have a spacious compound, you can easily setup a small fish farm within your backyard without any regulatory precaution.
Risks and challenges in Fish Farming
Fish is very sensitive to manage and a slight mistake could result to degenerated growth of your fish or even death which may cause massive revenue loss.
- Setting up fish farm is capital intensive, much more than that of poultry and snail farm. Setting up fish farm requires more careful planning and much capital input. A relatively small fish farm may take up to N500,000 to setup, while bigger ones takes millions of naira.
- Due to the cost of production, fish produced from the farm is priced higher than those caught from the rivers and ponds by fishermen. Therefore, if there is good quantity of fisherman’s fish in the market, you may find it difficult to sell as people would prefer the cheaper ones.
- There is no by-product in fishery unlike poultry where even the drop can be harvested and sold to other farmers and make extra profit. In fishery, all you get is the flesh.
Choosing the right diet for your fish
It is very important to know what type of fish you are growing in your fish tank and what they were born to eat. Feeding them the wrong food will not only make them suffer, but also retard their growth and cause health problems. Not all food is suitable for every type of fish you grow. Different types of fish are born to eat different food, and therefore, learn the type of fish you have in your tank. Some fish have very specific need and so require special diet. For example, you might have a tank full of freshly hatched and grown fries that need starter feed.
When to feed your fish
Your fish may also eat at specific times depending on their habits, which you need learn also. Placing your food at the right spot for them to eat is also important. Some fish will eat from the top of the water surface; others will eat from a specific place inside the tank. Therefore, if you have the type of fish that like to graze from inside the tank, make arrangement for them so that they can eat naturally. It is also important to know when to feed your fish. Even though most fish will eat during the daytime, there are also a few types of fish that will eat only at night.
Variation in diet
Instead of feeding the same type of food to your fish, add variation in their food. Your fish is going to live the variation and just like humans, it will add to the various types of food group needed for their balanced growth and all round health and well being. A combination of all sorts of food such as live, dried, and frozen food will ensure a balanced diet for your fish.
Making feed from locally available ingredients
Instead of going to a food supply store for fish, you could probably find some food around the house. Make some fresh food for your fish out of corn flour or regular flour, rice, or bread. You can also add some insects or worms for your fish if you have carnivorous fish in your tank. Make sure you have the guidelines for the types of food your fish will eat. If you have a gold fish in your tank, your fish will mostly eat vegetables, such as peas or such as diet, no meat.