Fish farming is an act of rearing fish for commercial purpose. This involves building the earthen, tarpaulin or concrete pond, fertilizing the pond, stocking the fingerlings in good water and feeding the Mackerel, Tilapia or catfish till market size.
While there are thousands of fish species all around the globe, only very few of them are viable for commercial fish farming.
Introduction to Fish Farming
Fish farming is known as pisciculture, that is, the breeding, rearing, and transplantation of fish by artificial means.
While fish naturally lives inside rivers, pisciculture is the means by which we grow fish at home, mostly for commercial purposes.
Fish farming is the major form of aquaculture (farming of aquatic organisms like fish, crustaceans, molluscs and aquatic plants).
Fish farming involves raising fish commercially in ponds, tanks or enclosures.
There are hundreds of species of fish, among which are; sea trout, cyprinids, pangas catfish, freshwater fishes, silver seabream, common carp, catla, greasy grouper, bighead carp, Nile tilapia, grass carp (who knows, maybe there are thousands more?).
However, most of the species of fish are not suitable for fish farming business in Nigeria, either because of their nature or because of the low demand in the fish market or the profitability of their species.
That’s why the most common fish species fish farmers grow for commercial purpose are carp, salmon, tilapia and catfish (while the last two, catfish and tilapia is the most common species in Nigeria fish market).
Means of Growing Fish
Fish could be grown in two ways:
Extensive aquaculture where fish grow under natural water (i.e. river or stream).
Then, intensive aquaculture where fish are fed with external food supply.
Intensive aquaculture is the area we’re focusing on in this tutorial because it’s easier for commercial fish farming in Nigeria.
What is The Most Profitable Fish to Farm?
If you’re new in the fish business, you probably want to know which of the species of fish is most profitable in Nigeria, especially if you’re aware that there are hundreds of species of fish (sea trout, cyprinids, pangas catfish, freshwater fishes, silver seabream, common carp, catla, greasy grouper, bighead carp, Nile tilapia, grass carp and thousands others).
Well, the straight answer to your question is; Catfish and Tilapia and the reason is very simple__ because of our climate, their growth and the fish market.
Climate; Just as it’s in Livestock , crops or other Agriculture
business, climate and geographical locations affect different plants, species or crops differently.
Just as you may not be able to plant Apple or rear certain Goats in certain places, not all the species of fish you can rear in Nigeria.
Fish Growth; If you’re thinking of how to start a fish farming business in Nigeria, you are probably thinking of going into fish production for a commercial purpose.
What then happens when you have to rear your fish for 2 years before they weigh 1 KG?
No serious fish farmer can endure that so it’s always advisable you choose a specie that will grow fast, to meet your business plan.
Fish Market in Nigeria; Even when all the above points are in your favour, you still don’t have a business, until the market smile at what you’re selling.
After spending about decades in the business world, I can tell you that it doesn’t matter how great what you’re selling is, if the market doesn’t want it, you’ve got no business.
There are so many fishes Nigerians won’t eat (and it doesn’t matter how big they are).
What I can tell you is that, Catfish has a very large market (probably more than 70% of the entire locally produced fishes in Nigeria) and Tilapia too is loved by some Nigerians (maybe about 10% of the Nigerian fish market share).
So; What’s the most profitable fish to farm in Nigeria?
Any fish that can live in our climate, grow fast and loved by Nigerian fish consumers.
Catfish and Tilapia seem to win in this race!
How Do I Start a Fish Farm in Nigeria?
Whether you’re planning to start a small scale fish farming or a gigantic commercial fish farming in Nigeria, follow these 9 steps to get started;
- Get a good location for your farm
- Get a good source of water
- Choose the appropriate fish pond
- Decide the right species of fish for you
- Get healthy fingerling or juveniles
- Understand fish feeds & feeding
- Start Marketing your fish before they grow-up
- Be business minded
- Get good and practical fish farming training
- Get a Good Location for Your Fish farming Business.
You need to first decide whether you’re starting your fish business on a small scale or you’re going big.
If you’re starting a small scale fish farm, you may decide to start at your backyard with tank but if you’re going big, you may need to buy or rent one or few fish ponds (earthen or concrete ponds) outside your home.
- 2. Get a Good Source of Water for Your Fish
How important is water to a fish? Just as oxygen is important to you. Take a fish out of water and it becomes helpless and dying.
Put it in a bad water and you`re affecting its growth and productivity (though “bad” water varies, depending on the kind of fish we are talking about. Some fish live in rough water while others cannot).
My point here is, you’ll need good source of water for your fish. Also note that what we humans consider a “Good Water” is not what fishes consider good water.
Take for instance, we can drink government treated water but such water could be poisonous to the fish because of the chemicals used to treat the water for human consumption.
How much will the water be? Here is a question you alone can answer. I know a man few years ago who had his fish farm at the back of his house.
He can easily use the well of his house to satisfy these few fishes. How can a man with huge earthen fish pond do this?
The size of your intending fish farm determines the quantity of water needed. If you’re starting a small scale fish business, you may be comfortable with a nearby well.
If however you’re starting fish farming in Nigeria as a big business venture, then, you’ll need a strong well or bore hole and water storage tank.
- Choose The Right Fish Pond or Plastic Tank for Housing Your Fish.
I compared water with oxygen in my above analogy. Here I’m talking about housing your fish.
Just like you, your fish needs a comfortable place to live. The more natural and comfortable the fish pond is, the better for them.
There are two popular fish housing system… backyard plastic tank or pond.
Plastic tank may be good for you if you’re just starting fish farming in Nigeria (especially on a small scale).
This small scale medium will help you to be familiar with the nature of the fishery business, before you’ll extend your market reach.
Fish pond sizes are also different.
Fish ponds are of various sizes and their cost is vary, depending on your environment and need.
What should you do? Move out.
Visit fish farms around you. Visit fish feeds seller. Visit some experienced bricklayers. Ask questions. Ask questions. Ask questions.
- Decide The Right Species of Fish to Farm
As briefly stated before, there are hundreds (if not thousands) of species in the fish family.
This means you as a potential fish farmer have to decide which species to choose as you’re starting your own fish farming business in Nigeria.
There are so many funny fishes like; Hypsuruscaryi, Heterostichusrostratus, Hermosillaazurea, Halichoeressemicinctus, Gymnocorymbusternetzi, Ginglymostomacirratum, Galeocerdocuvier, Embiotocajacksoni, Echeneisnaucrates, Ctenopomaacutirostre, Chromisviridis etc.
However, you’re likely to be fine with catfish (or Tilapia, in a rare occasion) and getting Clariasgariepinus, Heterobranchusbidorsalis ,Clarias X Heterobranchus hybrid (Heteroclarias ) and Clariasnigro-digitatus or Heterobranchus could be alright
- Get Healthy Juveniles
Juveniles are the little fishes you’ll need to grow to table-size.
Ordinarily we have what we call Fry, which is the development stage of fish immediately after the larvae stage, at an age of less than a week.
We also have what we call Fingerling which is the development stage of fish following the fry stage and continuing into the first three to four months of life.
We as well have yearling which is the development stage of fish following the fingerling stage and lasting until approximately one year of age.
The development stage of a fish after fingerling is what we refer to as juvenile.
The best practice if you’re just starting a fish farm in Nigeria is to buy juveniles as this will save you from the headaches of much mortality you may experience from fingerlings.
The most commonly seen catfish species in Nigeria are; Clariasgariepinus ,Heterobranchusbidorsalis , Clarias X Heterobranchus hybrid (Heteroclarias ) and Clariasnigro-digitatus . Heterobranchus
Just as if everything else must be prepared before the fish itself, yes. There are fish farmers that specialize in hatching fingerlings and selling juveniles.
Make sure you go for a reputable fish hatchery so as to avoid getting unhealthy juvenile. You know what it means to adopt a sickly child, don’t you? Don’t buy unhealthy juveniles.
What if You’re Interested in Starting the Fish Farming Hatchery?
If you’re just getting started, managing a fish hatchery, brooding stock and fry will be too much a learning curve for you.
What I advise is that you should go and buy the needed fingerlings or juveniles now, while you may venture into fish hatchery later.
- Choose The Right Fish Feeds.
Plants are able to utilize sunlight and simple nutrients to produce new organic material through photosynthesis.
Animal (i.e. fish) cannot do this. That’s why animals need to feed on organic materials such as plants, other animals, or prepared food that contains plants or/and animals.
When feeding our children (sorry, fish. Lol) both quality and quantity has to be taken care of.
Feed them well and with quality fish feed.
There are three means of food for your fish.
Natural fish feed. This is found naturally in the pond. This include; detritus, bacteria, plankton, worms, insects, snails, aquatic plants and fish (yes, fish eat fish if they`re hungry).
Supplementary fish feed .This usually include cheap materials locally available such as terrestrial plants, kitchen wastes or agricultural by-products. Supplementary feed may be good, but they are not for serious fish farmer (except if he includes the other types of feeds). Many people who are into fish farming in Nigeria are using supplementary feeds. some to their profit, others to their loss.
Complete feed . This is a carefully made fish feed. They`re usually of good ingredient and nutrients, made by the experts who understand the perfect formula for the fish at a different stage.
How much does it cost to feed your fishes in Nigeria?
You know I cannot tell what your vicinity looks like and when you’ll be reading this post. Do what I suggested above. Move out. Ask questions and you’ll learn from people currently in your environment who know the current price of feed in your city and area.
Every other cost and materials (to be listed soon) could be gotten right in your environment. Take out a pen and paper. Move out and ask questions.
- Start Marketing Your Fishes Before They Are Grown Up. So many people who are starting fish farming business in Nigeria are making the mistake of thinking that the market is readily there.It’s not true.You have to start marketing your fish, even before they are grown up.
- Be Business Minded
Too many potential fish farmers think “It’s just about feeding the fish and selling them”.
They are wrong!
Fish farming is a business and if you want to succeed in this venture in Nigeria, you must approach it as a serious business.
Fish Farming Equipment
Whether you’re thinking of small scale fish farm or a large commercial fish business, the following are the basic equipment you’ll need to start your own fish farming business in Nigeria;
Fish Pond. This could be concrete, earthen or tank of different sizes (depending on the quantity of fish you want to farm)
Good Water . Though water could be a free gift of nature, you may have to spend money to dig a bore hole. There’s what we call “water quality” in fish business and it simply means you must have a good and reliable water for your fish
Fish Feed . Your fish will eat different kinds of feed at different stages of their lives. While there are many makers of fish feed, we generally use MM to indicate their sizes.
Fish Net. This is used for harvesting fish.
Labour .You may not need labour if you’re starting a small scale fish farm but you’ll need some labour if you’re going on a large commercial scale.
Weight, Bows etc
You can do the pricing of any of the above.
How Profitable is Fish Farming in Nigeria?
Since business is about watching the market trend and taking advantages, it will be good to understand the commercial trend of this agribusiness (business of agriculture)
The world at large is becoming aware of the nutritional value of fish.
When you notice the sensitization about how fish is the good source of omega_3, Vitamin D, Vitamin B2 (even though lay men may not know what all that means, they trust their medical practitioners and then eat more fish)
More and more people are abandoning red meat (because we`re told it`s bad) and embracing fish.
This is the reason why the world aquaculture (farming of aquatic organisms) remains a fast growing sector, yielding nearly 60 million metric tons (MT) with the estimated value of $119.4 billion (in 2010).
Is Integrated Farming Possible With Fish Farming?
Integrated farming is a situation where we have one or two livestock or any other related farming in the same farm.
I know you may not be asking this question.
I invented it in order to show you something. Poultry . Yes, poultry farm is usually a good match for fish farm. Why? Because poultry drops could be food for your fish, though not always a good practice.
I’m not saying you should start both the poultry and fish farming together, now.
You may just have to have a vision of that in your business plan .
(Please Note; If you want to succeed in any business in Nigeria, you need to know about the 13 Secrets I have discovered as a Nigeria entrepreneur. Download it as free book HERE after reading this post)
Must You Join Any Association to Start Fish Farming in Nigeria?
Yes, there are some “professional associations” that are about fish farming in Nigeria.
You might have heard about Association Fish Farmers and Aquaculturist of Nigeria (AFFAN), United Fisheries Association of Nigeria (UFAN), Association of Fingerlings Producers of Nigeria (AFPON), Nigeria Union of Fishermen and Seafood Dealers (NUFASD), Association of Ornamental Fish Exports of Nigeria (AOFFN), Fisheries Society of Nigeria (FISON).
Must you join any of these association before you can become a fish entrepreneur in Nigeria?
Not necessary, except you see any advantage in doing so.
However, it`s very important you register your farm with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC)
This registration is easy and not expensive.
You may not have to register for a Limited Liability Company.
All you need may be a registration of business name which may not be more than #10,000 (please, confirm this price in your area because things may be different over there)
How Fast Can You Expect The Return on Investment in The Fishery Business?
The good news is, Mr. and Miss Fish grow very fast.
Just like poultry chickens, fish grows very fast and can be sold within six-eight months.
Though there are many websites with good information about fish farming, the price of a table size fish cannot be determined by anything you’ll read online (though I have read from some people who try to tell you that fish is sold for xxx price).
The cost of fish and any other product depends on your market location and market forces (demand and supply, festive season, government policy, etc.) and not predictable.
That’s why I encourage you to go out and make research about your intending market and costs… in your environment or call us today to get the latest information from us.
So, how long can it take to start making much money from fish farming in Nigeria?
Let’s hope everything goes fine, so let’s expect 18-36 months (depending on various situations).
By this I mean, your first juveniles should not be too much and you should use them as a training point.
Your second juveniles should cover part of your starting capital why your third set of juveniles should cover all of your starting capital and profit.
If this is correct, your fourth juveniles should start your appropriate profit… this may be in the second year.
How much you can make is dependent on how much you input, I’m sure you understand this.
How Risky is Fish Business in Nigeria?
Just as disease could break into poultry farm and destroy a whole farm, so can there be a major outbreak that could lead to great loss in a fish farm.
However, this is not a good reason to run away from fishery business. What is that business that is not risky anyway?
Other Fish Farming Tips You Should Take Note
- Take care of your water . Water probably is the most important thing to a fish, even more than food. Fish lives and sustains itself in water. Water is the source of its oxygen.
- Fish lives in Ocean, river and streams. Now that we want to raise them, we have to provide a kind of “home away from home” for them.
- Can you imagine yourself living where the oxygen is scarce or bad? That`s why fresh water is very important to the live of a fish.
- You have to consider the availability of quality water where you`ll locate your fish farm.
- Very often, you will find out that the quality of the water in your pound deteriorates.
- This is very normal due to the feeds you`re giving your fish, even if they are of high quality.
- It`s only a little percentage of the feeds that are actually converted into nutrients for your fish. Other wastes stimulates excessive phytoplankton growth.
- As water stays around for few time, it becomes unnatural for your fish as the oxygen level of the water decreases.
- If there is a flowing stream you directed to your farm, good. If not, the water has to be changed often.
- Feed your fish with quality food. If you don’t, they won’t grow as required.
- Be business minded. You must understand that you’re going into business, real one. Be business minded.
- Be a marketer and a strategist entrepreneur. Eventually your work is to sell. Business is about selling, not only your products, but your vision and business ideas.
- If you`re not educated in the art of selling, you cannot succeed in any business.