Fish farming is an interesting agribusiness to venture into. Apart from the fact that it is profitable; there is nothing that gives joy than watching such a wonderful specie being reared successfully outside their wild environment. Fish farming means rearing fishes commercially in tanks, ponds or other enclosures for the purpose of producing food.
It is a lucrative business which requires time, patience and money. Why fish farmers fail in Nigeria is because of the believe that fish farming requires little investment which results in huge profits. Fish farming is very technical, risky, capital-intensive, needs adequate knowledge and attention. But when compared to other reared animals like poultry, they are still a better choice because their mortality rate is less.
Before starting you need to go for training from an experience fish farm in other to know the intrigues of the business. And you have to start small until you have become a successful fish farmer before expanding.
The key things you need to know in fish farming is
How to hatch (spawning)
How to manage pond
Fishes that are mostly domesticated in Nigeria are; Mackerel, Catfish and tilapia. Of the three catfish is the most reared fish in our environment.
PURCHASE FISH FROM A GOOD FARM
Buy fish from reputable farms if not you will be given runts which cannot attain reasonable heights. It should be a farm where the female and the male are equal or above 1.5kg Here is how to identify runts; the heads appears whitish in colour and their body very thin. thinner in such a way that it cannot be matched with the head.
Before stocking fishes in the pond disinfect it with Blagdon against anti-fungi and bacteria present in the pond. There are people who stock without testing the pond only for the fishes to start decaying due to outbreak of diseases present in the pond.
REQUIREMENT FOR FISH FARMING
You have to choose a suitable place that will be used in the construction of the fish pond. One of such place is a swampy environment, it is very good in rearing fish. Do not use thick bush or where trees are many especially when you are using earthen pond. Build bore hole or pond if you are using concrete pond. You can purchase water and give shade to the fishes or fingerlings. Prevent direct sunlight to your farm.
- OVERALL COST
- COST OF LABOUR/MAN POWER
It should be moderate but can be both expensive or cheap. This will be due to location and the type of pond. Concrete pond will require much labour. However, you can look for a way to cut the cost down.
Concrete and tarpaulin ponds consumes more money than earth ponds. This is mainly due to the need of changing water more frequently.
Other things are fixed cost which includes: construction (pond) pumping machine, basin, dragnet etc.
ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES OF USING EARTHEN POND
Pest such as snakes and other reptiles can feed on the fish.
Sorting becomes an impossible development
The state of the fish cannot be properly monitored because the fishes cannot be sighted.
Overstocking can easily result
The advantage is that it is cheap
And the fishes would feel they are in their natural habitat.
COST OF MATERIALS
This will depend on the time, type of pond and the number of fingerlings you are managing. You have to calculate the number of blocks, cement etc. That you are likely to use in case of concrete pond. You have to constantly change water so you need light (electricity diesel) to pump the generator.
List of all the equipments needed to run a fish farm successfully depends mostly on the stock capacity. But some of the things needed are. well/bore hole, oxygen meter, feed store, harvest net, sorting bowls.
COST OF FEEDING THE FISHES
Foreign feeds are more expensive than local feeds example is the cupen feeds. But you can produce your own feeds locally while maintaining high level of protein in the feed. This way you would have reduced the cost of purchasing and feeding the fishes.
Start the fishes with foreign feeds in the first 4 or 6 weeks after that start using local feed. Although some people feed fishes (with floating food of good quality) for 12 weeks before the locally pelleted feeds . This helps them to gain weight, example of feed to use is Durantee or Coppen.
Feed them 3 times a day but from the third month you start feeding them twice and once in the last month. If you don’t feed your fishes regularly, they will not grow. give them the correct size of food at the right time.
Some of the feeds are;
coppens, durante, multifeed, zeigler, aqua feed, ranan, vital feed, top feed etc. No one can accurately predict the amount of money to be spent in feeding fishes’. Your initial capital cannot be considered as an investment because 60% goes into fixed capital.
FACTORS THAT MAY AFFECT FISH FEEDING
Different factors affect or contributes to the response of fish feeding at a given time. Such factors include:
- Water quality (turbidity, ph, temperature etc.),
Fishes need enough space. Profit does not depend on the number of fishes you stock alone. It will even be better to understock them instead of overstocking them. To know if you have overstock fishes is when their water starts smelling within 3 days of changing it.
The solution to this is to change their water daily which will be more costly and time-consuming. Another way is to reduce the stock, fish likes fresh water. It helps them swim well and also eat better which will in turn result in healthy and bigger fishes.
Bigger fishes always suppress the smaller ones because of their size and weight. This makes it difficult for the small fishes to feed when food is served. In other for them not to die or be stunted, separate them by putting the smaller fishes in different pond. Sort them into different sizes; big, medium and small after two weeks of stocking.
Don’t give the fishes food before sorting and after sorting else the vomit the feed; due to the stress the underwent.
Sell to market men and women, frozen food dealers, hotels, restaurants, bars, joints, individuals etc. The price of fish will depend on the size of the fish. A big fish will attract more money than the small size.
Marketability of fishes depends largely on the market forces such as demand and supply. Most people generally prefer big fishes. To attract good customers always cultivate big fishes.
Before starting fish farming look out for your potential buyers first and the sizes the prefer. You can raise a fish to 1kg in 5 months.
The best way to make money through fish farming is by smoking them for export. This way 70% profit on your investment is guaranteed.
There are different of young fishes to stock such as; fingerlings, juvenile and post juvenile. It will be advisable as a starter you start with juvenile because you may not have the facilities to handle fingerlings. juveniles cost between #20-#30 for one.
HOW MUCH IS DOES A KG OF FISH COST?
The prices of fish vary from place to place, for instance, 1kg can cost #500-#600 in one place while selling less or more in another place.
All the fish reared may not survive and they cannot attain uniform weight hence their prices is bound to vary.
Success in fish farming depends on;
1. The quality of the fish
2. The quality of the feeds
3. The quality of the water system used
4. The structure of the pond system (space/depth)
5. infection fish will be eating without growing. Always observe your fishes whenever you change their water to identify any infection. If most of the fishes turn whitish then know there is an infection. Immediately use anti-biotic..
HOW TO TREAT A NEW POND
Pour 4 bags of poultry manure into the pond to neutralize the acidity of the cement and also to add Spirogyra to the water. Leave it for about a month before washing them out and restocking fresh water.
HOW MUCH IS REQUIRED TO SET UP A FISH POND?
A plot of land can take 3 ponds, stocked with 3000 fishes in each pond totalling 9000. you can start a medium fish farm with #200,000, small farm with #80,000 while large farm is from one million.
You can also construct a 60sqm pond of 5ft deep for 100k. 2000litres size can take 250-350 fishes from fingerlings to table size.
The two most important things in fish farming are quality water and feeds. The things that can pollute water are; urine, faeces, and dissolved excess food. At 4 month a fish should be able to attain an average of 1kg in size. It is better to start on a small scale, learn the trade from ground and then expand to a bigger capacity you can handle.
MY EXPERIENCE IN FISH FARMING IN NIGERIA
Me and one of my colleague rented an earthen pond at Jabi lake in Abuja very close to my office then. After stocking 1000 fishes in less than a month flood came and wash away the whole fishes. That day fishermen in that community harvested huge catch.
It was so devastating for us but that’s not were the story ends. One of the fish farmers who has been raising his fishes and was about selling them in two weeks time the flood wash them off as well, 3000 fishes.
I decided to move ahead and reared them close to my friend’s place, Because of the nature of work my friend couldn’t feed them well, as a result, the fishes runt we had to sell them off at a lost.
With this I mean to say if you cannot devout enough time for the fishes, please do not go ahead to start fish farming. Also if your fish farm is close to a water body example river; build a protection for it just in case…..