Today, the demand for fish and fish products is growing because of the health advantages of their overall demand for meat and meat products. For one thing, fish is a healthy source of protein and fat. Fish farming is undoubtedly profitable and this is especially true when they use cheap but nutritious ingredients at the lower end of the food chain.

Fish farming is a form of aquaculture and it is about raising fish commercially in tanks or enclosures for human consumption. Fish farming involves raising a variety of aquatic animals, such as fish, molluscs, shrimp, etc., in an enclosure such as a tank or pond. Most people are thinking that how much profit they can make per acre of fish farming. A step by step guide to fish farming profit per acre

Fish farming

Fish has become more popular as a source of protein today than ever before. On average, people eat 20 Kgs of fish a year today. Though, most of the fish that come into the market today are from aquaculture. Our wild fish stocks are already depleted and oceans are overfished, so there is no choice but to raise fish to fill in the gap.

The demand for fish raised in organic farms is going to be even greater because of the freshness, the taste, and the fact they are rebased in a natural environment, devoid of chemicals and unnatural elements. When you raise fish with organic food and in a natural environment, you can expect to sell fish to health-conscious neighbours without any problems.

Need for fish farming

There are numerous benefits of getting started with fish farming business as below;

  • Fish is in great demand not in India but also in other parts of the world.
  • More people prefer eating fish and fish products as compared to meat or animal products. There is a much higher demand for fish as a source of food due to vitamins and proteins.
  • Within the national and international platforms, the demand for the fish farm market is also on the rise at the present time. As per the increasing demand and shortage of supply chain, it is obvious that more people is shifting towards fish farming as a modern tradition.
  • In the present time, people started to farm fish in small and big tanks at farmlands or small rooms. This step has been taken as there is a shortage in the supply of certain edible fish in the sea, ocean, and rivers. This is one of the main reasons why more people are stepping forward to setting up fish farms.

Factors that affect fish farming profit

To assess the profitability of the fish farming business, let us list the main factors that may affect your profits so that you know how to handle them when you start a fish farm.

Feeding, water temperature level, the type of pond you use, feed costs, and other costs minus selling costs will affect your farm’s profit potential each time. Other considerations include the location of farms, farms near markets, demand and supply, special holiday celebrations, etc.

Additionally, the list of farmed species is dominated by shrimp, Atlantic salmon, tilapia, and different types of shellfish. Indian fisheries and aquaculture is very important sector of food production. Mainly, it provides nutritional security to the food basket. Along with fish culture, ornamental fish culture and high-value fish farming are gaining importance in the recent past. In India, the major fish producing states are Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Gujarat, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, and Karnataka.

In the aquaculture business, both small-scale fish farming and large-scale fish farming are profitable. Additionally, the business has good export potential. Normally, the small-scale farms sell the fresh fish for retailing while large-scale farms sell the fish to the slaughterhouses for further preparation and export. If you can plan well, the integrated fish farming business ensures the highest profit ratio.

How to start profitable fish farming

Farmers enjoy raising fish as livestock as it requires minimal land for a high profit. Fish farming business requires specialized knowledge and extensive time, but with hard work, then you can get a profitable business. Here, we discuss steps for how to start fish farming;

Evaluating profitability – Before starting a fish farming business, it is crucial to examine whether you have the resources and time to devote to this venture. Important aspects to consider are supply and demand, capital costs, operating costs, legal aspects, and production capabilities. Then, evaluate the current market and see if there are room and demand for a new fish farm.

Training – Once you decide that fish farming is a profitable endeavour, it’s recommended that you work at an operating fishery to learn the ropes. There are several technical and managerial skills that you should perfect before venturing off to start the business. A training stage, while it will yield less income, will prove to be invaluable in the future. Working at a successful fish farm will teach you how to perform water quality, disease control, feeding, marketing, and processing skills. Without this knowledge, you could run into difficulties in the future.

Starting small – You should start a small fish farming business, as a part-time business. Setting up a few tanks on the property and learning the ins and outs of the business will produce income and prepare you for a larger investment.

Requirements for profitable fish farming


Using proven fish culture technology, large amounts of readily obtainable water are needed. Stocking rates are mainly based on surface acreage, not on pond volume. Deep ponds are not an asset unless they are used as storage reservoirs to fill properly constructed fish ponds. These ponds need to be only 4 to 6 feet in depth. Stocking rates are determined by experience, availability of aeration equipment, and the amount of risk the fish farmer is willing to assume. These rates currently range from 2,000 lb/acre or less up to a maximum of 6,000 lb/acre. High-density tank or raceway fish culture using a small amount of recirculating water, constant aeration, and filtration is a possibility as technologies improve; though, at present only highly experienced and well-financed fish culturists have been consistently successful with these methods.

Existing ponds

Existing ponds can be used for fish culture but their use is limited because they cannot be drained or seined for an efficient harvest. If the fish pond is at least 1 surface acre in size, cage culture might be a possibility. Large soil conservation lakes are good candidates for commercial fish cage culture. Small existing ponds can be a good place to try out fish farming or raising small quantities of fish, but they are not suitable for commercial fish production.

Fish feeds

To breed fish perfectly you must want to assure that the fish survives to complete its growth cycle. The fish must breed naturally. Then, this will help in an increase in the number of fish. So you must select the right type of food. It is very important to make the right selection of fish food.

The food must be selected depending on the breed of the fish you are having at the farm. You have to maintain the right hygiene and temperature of the water in the pond. This means that regularly you will have to test it for salinity and pH level.

Methods of fish farming

Cage System

The first method is the cage system which uses cages that are located in lakes, ponds, and oceans that contain the fish. This method is widely referred to as off-shore cultivation. Fish are kept in cage-like structures and are “artificially fed” and harvested. The fish farming cage method has made numerous technological advances over the years, particularly in reducing diseases and environmental concerns. Though, the number one concern of the cage method is fish escaping and being loose among the wild fish population.

Pond System

The second method is irrigation ditch systems or pond systems for raising fish. The basic requirement for this process is to have a ditch or a pond that holds water. Then, this is a unique system because at a small level, fish are artificially fed and the waste produced from the fish is then used to fertilize farmers’ fields. On a larger scale, mostly in fish ponds, the pond is self-sustaining as it grows plants and algae for fish food.

Composite System

The third method of fish farming is known as a composite fish culture which is a type of fish farming that allows both local fish species and imported fish species to coexist in the same pond. The number of fish species depends, but it is sometimes upwards of six fish species in a single pond. The fish species are always carefully selected to ensure that species can coexist and reduce competition for food.

Integrated recycling systems

The fourth method of fish farming is called an integrated recycling system which is considered the largest scale method of “pure” fish farming. This method uses large plastic tanks that are placed inside a greenhouse. There are hydroponic beds that are located near the plastic tanks. The water in the plastic tanks is circulated to the hydroponic beds, where the fish feed waste goes to provide nutrients to the crops that are grown in the hydroponic beds. The majority of types of crops that are grown in the hydroponic beds are herbs such as parsley and basil.

Classic fry farming

The last type of fish farming method is called classic fry farming this method is also called a “flow-through system”. This is when sport fish species are raised from eggs and put in streams and released. Different fish species are raised on fish farms, the common fish spices raised are salmon, carp, tilapia, catfish and cod.

Fish farming business Licence

It is very important to get the business registered in India before starting. You have to get registered by submitting a business registration form and you will be provided with a registration number.

You will have to get registered at government offices. You have to submit all details related to information about yourself and your business. You can apply for a subsidy under the government sector for business. If you are looking forward to starting up this business in the sea or river bank then you can have to take special permission.

Fish farming cost and profit per acre

Coming to the income returns of Catla fish farming profit per acre you will get more profit while comparing to the capital income or investment.

Land Resources

Land resources should be considered when planning an aquaculture enterprise. The topography of the land will determine the type of fish ponds that can be built. Flat or gently sloping cleared land with plenty of clay is economical for fish culture. Large dike ponds suitable for fish culture can be built for the least expense.

For extensive / modified extensive, the minimum land required is about 50 acres or more. For a local working agriculturist, even a 5-acre farm is feasible. For anyone wishing to start fish farming from scratch, 50 acres or more is economically feasible. For semi-intensive farming, it can be started from a few acres but 20 acres of land can be more desirable.

1 acre = 4840 sq yards

1 hectare = 2.5 acres approximately.

Depending on the location whether the main road or side road or very remote, land costs about Rs. 60,000 to Rs. 300,000 per acre per year. Very good land for fish farming can probably be purchased for around Rs. 100,000 per acre per year.

Managerial Requirements

Large scale Catla fish culture is similar to other intensive animal enterprises in that it requires hard work, attention to details such as nutrition, health, and care of the aquatic animals, as well as making sound economic decisions.

Fish farming, like other business enterprises, requires accurate record-keeping making informed economic decisions concerning the purchase of feed, fingerlings, and related strategies to optimize returns from the marketplace. Large scale commercial fish farming is not a good profitable business to retire into as a hobby.

Time to grow fish

Unlike the west and due to the Catla species cultured, larger fish are preferred which also fetch a higher price. Once the ponds are constructed and stocked, harvesting/selling can begin after 12 months. A harvest cycle can be attained to provide fish for 6 to 8 months of the year.

Stocking density and ratio

A pond having an average water depth of 2.0-3.0 m can be stocked at the rate of about 5,000 fingerlings/ha. However, it is advocated 6,000-12,000 fingerlings/ha in the pond having an average water depth of about 2.5 m. In any case, the principle behind determining the stocking ratio is to fulfil the habitat and feeding niches operating in the upper, column, and bottom layer of the pond with species combinations in such a way as to minimize overlap. However, for the formation of distinct three layers in pond ecology, a minimum depth of 6 feet is required.

Subsidy for fish farming in India

The subsidy is available for various items like renovation or repair of ponds,  construction of new ponds, first-year inputs, etc. under a centrally sponsored subsidy scheme implemented by the majority of the  State  Governments through  FFDA’s for different categories of farmers and from the National Fisheries Development Board (NFDB) details of which can be obtained from concerned  Fisheries Departments or from the website of NFDB.

Capital requirement for fish farming in India

The cost of getting into fish culture can be high compared with agricultural commodities. A successful operation should be well planned. An extensive enterprise budget is the first step in such a plan and will certainly be necessary if the capital for the venture is borrowed. “Alternative” agricultural enterprises can be eligible for some low-cost government-backed loans or other special lending instruments. These programs should not be overlooked as potential sources of funding. Aquaculture is not an enterprise that will save a farmer who is already financially distressed. The start-up costs are often too high and experience is needed to consistently produce a profitable harvest.

This depends on the land layout, the height of the water and the depth of the drainage channel, topography of the land, how much to excavate without ruining or removing the topsoil, the distance of the water from land, stocking rates of fish per acre and so on. Generally speaking, a minimum of Rs. 50,000 per acre (excluding the price of land) of Capital investment is required for the completion of ponds and stocking. There would be a matter of recurring expenses such as fertilization, staff salaries, construction of ponds, etc. This too depends on the size of the farm. As such working capital of about Rs. 30,000 per acre per annum is required.


Returns depend on inputs. Such inputs are correct fish stocking rates, good quality identifiable seed, proper fertilization, vigilance, and strong management. Harvest techniques, proper management of harvesters, transportation to market, and having reliable staff to sell the product is also very important. On average, you should expect to sell about Rs. 150,000 worth of fish per acre (gross). The average net income from Catla fish farms is over Rs. 100,000 per acre per year but with proper management, net profits of Rs. 150,000 per acre per year can be achieved.

Economics or profit in one acre of Catla fish farming;

S.NoItemRateAmount in Rs
1Excavation of land per acreRs 25/meter cube1,00,000
2Construction of sluice gate (inlet/outlet)—–25,00
3Fish seed (4000 fingerlings)Rs 3/each12,000
4Liming(200 Kg)Rs 15/kg3,000
5Fertilizers & Manures20,000
6Supplementary feeding (FCR= 1:1.5) (6000Kg’s)Rs 30/Kg1,80,000
7Regular investment (including Labour)60,000
8Total Investment4,00,000
9Total Investment( Excluding capital investment)400000-1000003,00,000
10Total Fish Production (Approx 4500 kg)Rs 100/kg4,50,000
11Net Income/Year450000-3000001,50,000
12Net Income /month12,500

Conclusion of fish farming in India

With a proper fish farming business plan, marketing strategy, one can make a good profit in an acre of fish farming.

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