Fish farming also known as pisciculture the process of nurturing organisms that inhabit in water commercially either in controlled or semi-controlled environment so as to increase productivity.
Fish farming is a process in which series of work to be initiated before you start the fish farming, as below:
- Selecting a Land Area
- Pond Design and Construction
- Selecting the Fish Species
- Feeding the Fish
- Fish Harvesting
- Marketing the Fish
While the process of starting a fish farm is the same for both small and large scale farmers, in small scale farming, all you need is the fingerlings and a pond. However in large scale farming you require things such as: Pumps,
- Water Testing Equipment
- Fish Tank
- Aeration equipment
So, we will see step by step requirement for fish farming:
Selection of Land
The first step in this process is selecting a good land area. This is in terms of size, soil quality, and source of water. To get this land, you can either buy it or use your land.
Select a land that is big enough. Take into consideration your future plans so that this will not limit you when it comes to expanding your business. Ensure that the land is large enough for your pond. Size is important as it will help your grow and expand your business in the near future. Big enough also means enough amount of fish to farm.
Select a place with high quality soil. This is because the quality of the soil directly affects the quality and the quantity of the fish that you get. In fact, we advise you to take the soil for testing to ensure that it is at least over 20% clay. Also check for the place that is relatively level. It is important to ensure that the place is not easily prone to floods. This will help in preventing dirt water from getting into the bond. The soil should also have no or little rocks.
In rearing fish, constant water supply is vital. As a matter of fact, we cannot stress how important this is. Fish rearing with an unreliable water source is not only stressing but also causes unhealthy fish thus low production. Find a place where there is an interrupted source of fresh and clean water. Find a place near the river, lake, streams or even boreholes. We recommend that your pond should be about 0.7 meters deep so that you can have a successful farming.
Pond Design and Construction
The pod design is very important, however depends on the type of the species that you want to rear. Conversely, there are a few factors that must be considered regardless of the species you want to rear. These include;
Water Inflow and outflow
Ensure that the water flows in and out constantly and in the right rates. If the outflow is too much, favourable algae are flushed out which disadvantage the fish. On the other hand, where the water is retained for too long in the pond, it may result in Oxygen depletion which again leads to unhealthy fish. It is therefore important to always monitor the level of water in the pond. Confirm frequently to ensure that the inflow and outflow is well maintained.
When constructing, the screens should be placed strategically and expertly to keep off predators. Cover all the inlets and outlets properly to keep away insects and predators.
An ideal slope for a fish pond is 0.02m for every 10 meters. This will help regulate the inflow and outflow rate.
Shape and size
Productivity tends to be higher in a shallow pond. However, it should not be too shallow. Ensure that the shallow end is approximately 50 cm.(0.5m)
Spaces between the ponds
Imagine having a pond which has no spaces in between. This makes it very challenging to feed the fish.
It is also very difficult to harvest the fish or make any amendments that may require machine in the pond.
Spaces should therefore be left in between to be used as feeder roads and machine ways if need be. The paths should be standard to avoid straining.
Selecting the Fish Species
This is the most challenging step for most of the people who want to start fish farming project. This is because there are different types of fish types and species. Therefore before deciding on the fish farming type to start, it is important that you have all the facts about it to enable you to choose wisely. This is because there are many factors that should be well thought-out which if not taken into consideration would adversely affect productivity greatly.
Fish farming is quite an expensive investment and therefore the decision on which type to keep is not one that you want to make haphazardly. Basing it on groundless facts end up being disappointing, frustrating and uneconomical.
So, here are the different types of fish species which you can farm on. But we shall look into the two most practiced species. These two most common fish species are tilapia and catfish.
- Tilapia farming
Tilapia is a fresh water fish that is very easy to keep. It grows and reproduces rapidly and does best in warm water. It takes approximately two years to mature sexually. Tilapia is easy to feed as they feed on phytoplankton, unicellular algae and zooplankton, which refers to small animals or immature large animals.
The versatile fish is lenient of an assortment of aquaculture. Due to the generous rearing parameters, tilapia is an ideal investment. In this type of fish farming, we have different types of fish ponds, but earth ponds is the most preferred for commercial fish farming. Like any other fish farming, tilapia fish farming also demands same conditions and environment as other fish farming for better results.
For an effective tilapia fish pond, you need an optimal temperature range of about 25 degrees to 35 degrees. Also check for the place with sufficient sunlight to put your pond. This will facilitate growth of algae.
Note: Tilapia multiplies so fast which may as a result cause over population which in turn cause food competition resulting to stunted growth. This is controlled by use of predators or manual sexing.
2. Catfish farming
If you want fish that you will harvest quickly, catfish farming is the most appropriate. They require little effort and can be reared in a pond of any size comfortably even though a big pond is ideal. It is one of the most maintainable fish type and has a very high demand in market today as majority of fish users prefer it. There are so many species of catfish such as yellow blue head, flathead, black blood head, channel, walking, brown catfish among others. In this type of fish farming, we have different types of fish ponds, but earth ponds is the most preferred for commercial fish farming.
Actually, they are over 3000 species! The fish take about 21 months to grow up to 0.454 kg (454 grams) they feed on readily available foods such as rice and soybeans making them a stress free investment that is very profitable.
For maximum productivity, ensure that
Temperatures in the pond are kept between 28.30C to 30.0C. The pH of the water in the pond is kept between 6.5 and 8.5.
Water tests are done regularly to check for contamination. The health of the fish in the pond should be checked and the unhealthy ones attended to. From the foregoing discussion, it is clear that catfish are resilient and productive thus a perfect investment for every fish farmer.
You can start your fishpond with some fingerlings from the reputable dealer. It is well known that male fingerlings grows fast compared to females. You are then advised to have more males so that you can get better results.
Fingerlings normally reach maturity within six and eight months. Ensure that you keep some adult fish in order to produce the fingerlings to ensure that your fish crop is well restocked.
Feeding the Fish
Just like human beings, fish need to feed well so as to grow healthy and rapidly. This means that buying them supplements will increase their productivity. The population of the fish must however be limited to ensure that they do not compete for food. Fish more especially tilapia mostly feed on algae, manufactured fish feeds or water insects. You can buy pellets that are either made of soy, maize, vegetable product and rice. Providing proper care and feed for your fish will definitely make them gain weight rapidly and grow fast. You can also spur the growth of algae in the pond by simply adding some chicken droppings or fertiliser. They will grow rapidly, hence providing an additional food sources.
Feeding is best at morning hours and afternoon. Make sure that you don’t allow any uneaten food to remain in the fish pond for many hours. This is because it may become toxic. When purchasing the supplements, ensure that you insist on the species that you rear since there are different supplementary foods for the different species.
Control diseases, parasites and predators
Let the fishpond remain clean always to prevent entry of parasites and diseases. You can Seek help and guidance from aquaculture professional on the correct medication you can use when treating a sick fish.
This is done using either a net or draining away all the water volume in cases where you are harvesting all the fish. It should be noted that different species of food are harvested at different stages and weight.
For you to get maximum food and to provide quality fish to your customers, you should ensure that they are harvested in the right way and at the right time.
Marketing the Fish
Since doing business is actually watching the trends of the market and then taking advantages, it is actually important to understand commercial trend of agribusiness. The world is becoming aware of nutritional value of the fish. Fish is known to be a good source of vitamin D, omega -3, vitamin B2 and many others. A lot of people are actually abandoning the red meat to take fish. This is one of the main reasons as to why farming of different aquatic species remains the fast growing sector. This sector yield a lot of money and there are many reasons as to why you should go into fish farming.
Most people eat fish. In point of fact, research has it that about 500,000 people concludes that eating fish regularly increases the lifespan of an individual. This implies that you already have a ready market. However, aim at not transporting the fish to very far places as this will reduce your profit margin and reduce the quality of the fish as well. Good quality fish will enable you outperform competition.
Like any other business, this is a business that you should market. Some of the platforms that you can use are websites, social media platforms such as Facebook among others. Ensure that the community around you is aware of what you do. After this, the consumers will come looking for you.
Capital needed for fish farming
The amount of money required to start this business depends mostly on the scale of the project. Starting this business may not be a bit challenging because there are different places where you can source your capital from.
You can get the loan from your local bank or accumulate some funds from investors. It is therefore important to prepare a good business plan so that you can get good funding from the bank. You can also use your personal savings if you don’t have access to investors or banks that can lend you money as capital. Start with your small savings and finally your business will grow.
Benefits of fish farming
Fish is highly nutritious. Besides meeting the demands of your consumers, you already have a very nutritious meal for your family. Unemployment is on the rise in the current word. Rearing fish will not only create employment for you but also for other people such as sellers, transporters and even those providing for labor in the farm.
As earlier mentioned, about half a million people believe that eating fish has so many benefits. This implies that they are good consumers of the same. There is therefore a reliable, stable market for it all the time. It is a source of income too.
Challenges, risks and solutions
From the foregoing discussion, it is clear that fish farming goes beyond being known as profit making. As a matter of fact, it has so many benefits. However, we cannot overlook the challenges and the risks that are involved. There is competition from fish fetched from rivers, lakes and oceans. Needless to say, they are much cheaper that fish grown in a pond.
There is no any by-product. Actually, fish is all you get. However, if you farm it right, it is enough!
Much more capital is required as compared to rearing things like chicken. Make a business plan and budget for it from far. This will ensure that you do not stop the project at the middle due to insufficient finances.
Quick Tips in a Fish Farming Business Plan:
- Make sure that the fish farm site should have a constant water supply.
- Make sure that the water temperature is optimal for the fish species reared or not.
- Make an easy access to the pond for feeding and harvesting.
- Test the water before you start fish farming both chemical and bacteriological.
- Learn about the modern technical method of risk assessment and as well as risk management.
- Find the qualified suppliers for fish eggs, fingerlings and fish feed which is very crucial in the fish farming business.
- Legal compliance and permission should be fingered out before starting a fish farming business in your locality.
- The site should have a good transport facility, that shows good impact on marketing your products and purchasing necessary commodities from the market.
- Take necessary suggestion from experts or the people who are in the same profession in building up your business.