How To Start Fish Farming in Nigeria

How To Start Fish Farming in NigeriaBy Ayoola Olaitan

Shippers Guide is the learning page of MMS Plus newspaper. Here you learn the 5Ws and most important ‘H’ on various aspects of shipping. This week, we will take you through a detailed process of how to start a fish farming business in Nigeria.

Enjoy it:

What’s Fish Farming?

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.

This write up will be sharing with you a lot of things you want to know about how to start profitable fish farming in Nigeria.

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).

However, 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

Let’s get into details;

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.

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).

The 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 and ask questions.

The reason why  you are advised to go out this way is because, these people will give you the best advice that can be useful to you in that environment, since they are in your vicinity.

If you can’t do this, you can contact us so that we’ll use experienced farmers to help you on this. Click Here to get to our fish farm near you.

After we have provided oxygen and house for our dear fish, what next?

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; Hypsurus caryi, Heterostichus rostratus, Hermosilla azurea, Halichoeres semicinctus, Gymnocorymbus ternetzi, Ginglymostoma cirratum, Galeocerdo cuvier, Embiotoca jacksoni, Echeneis naucrates, Ctenopoma acutirostre, Chromis viridis etc.

However, you’re likely to be fine with catfish (or Tilapia, in a rare occasion) and getting Clarias gariepinus, Heterobranchus bidorsalis, Clarias X Heterobranchus hybrid (Heteroclarias) and Clarias nigro-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; Clarias gariepinus, Heterobranchus bidorsalis, Clarias X Heterobranchus hybrid (Heteroclarias) and Clarias nigro-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.

If you need any help here, contact our fishery experts here

What if You’re Interested in Starting the Fish Farming Hatchery?

Many people are considering fish husbandry in Nigeria and it’s a good ambition that some of these people want to start both the fish hatchery, rearing and marketing together. However, that’s not a good practice.

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 fish 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?

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 or contact our fishery experts to help you with you fish project.

 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.I discussed this extensively in our fish farming book (PDF) and video.

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.

As a business minded fish farmer, you will need to consider how near your farm is to the market (where you want to sell to).

It is always a good business decision to firstinvestigate your market, understand the demand, price, your competitors and how you`ll outsmart them.

All these will influence your decision as per, where to situate your fish farm, the cost and the likely profit.

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