November 24, 2017

How to start fish farming business in Nigeria -Ultimate guide

fish farming in Nigeria

Fish farming business in Nigeria -The ultimate guide

Today we’ll discuss fish farming as a business. Fish farming, is a branch of aquaculture that involves the raising of fish (dumb, what else…) on a commercial basis usually in artificial enclosures of water, such as fish ponds, fish tanks.

Fish farming business is a potentially lucrative business that can be started as a small and medium enterprise (SME).  You don’t need a ton of funds to start, and with proper management, and just like most other forms of agrobusiness, your fish farm stock has the potential to multiply in multiple folds in under six (6) months.

The Various Types Of Fish Farming

As a prospective fish farmer, several major options are available to you as regards how to start a fish farm as well as the subdivision of fish farmng you prefer to pursue. Some of these subdivisions include fish nursery/juveniles production and mature fish production.

Also, there are several species of fish that are generally cultivated on a commercial basis due to their rate of growth and excellent breeding potentials. It’s recommended that you go into breeding of the following species for optimum production and profits:

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1. Catfish farming

2. Tilapia farming

Catfish farming is especially popular in Nigeria, and so many fish farmers have already made millions from breeding catfish for sale to the consuming public as well as to restaurrants, frozen food stores, and hotels. In six months, a young catfish fingerling can be ready for the market at a healthy size of about 1kg. Tilapia fish is insanely prolific, and relatively cheap to breed. However, getting good breeders to stock your Tilapia fish farm might prove faorly difficult. Another issue to consider is the relatively lower market demand for Tilapia fish compared to catfish.

1. Fish nursery subdivision

2. Grow-out pond subdivision.

Note that the two subdivisions that is, Nursery and Growth-out pond can be operated either as  separate ventures or else combined in the same fish farming business project.

The nursery basically centers around the breeding of female fish for the sole purpose of producing baby fish ottherwise called fries. These fish fries need to mature into fingerlings before they can be stocked in your fish ponds. It’s possible to go one step further and grow your fingerlings into juveniles before moving them to your main pond or selling them to other fish farmers.

The female fish are induced to lay eggs  which are then fertilized, incubated and hatched. You might be wondering how long it takes for fish fries to mature into fingerlings. It generally takes about 3 weeks for these maturation process to complete.

Requirements for Setting Up Fish Farm:

The most important consideration to make in setting up your fish farm is projected scale of operation. Ther is aclear difference betwen wether you’re going into the business as a small scale business probably fro your backyard or to go into it on a bigger, commercial scale.

Other factors to consider before starting up your fish farm include;

1. Souce of water and water management

2. Specie of fish to breed and quality of fingerlings/ juveniles

3. Food (Yeah, who doesn’t like food?)

4. Type of water enclosure -natural ponds, artficial earten ponds, plastic tanks

5. Age of fish

Note that all the considerations higlighted are actually inter-related in different ways. For instance, Your source of water might determine the type of water enclosure, and vice versa.

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Water supply Source:

Water is the cornestone of your fish farm Without good water management, your fish will die, heaven forbid! The best water for fish farming is from bore hole. Depending on the size of your fish farm, one or two should be able to provide juice for your ponds and tanks on a consistent basis.

Where possible, stream water can either be diverted to supply water to earthen ponds, or alternatively, you can build a small dam to create a pond for your fish. Every effort must be made to ensure that predators such as snakes and birds are not allowed free access to the fishes. Also, since most likely, the water i your fish pond will have to be changed at periodic intervals to prevent slime accumulation, your souce of water should be reliable. It does no harm to build in redundancy into your water supply system by having backup systems in place -just in case.

Pond Construction:

The success or failure of your fish farming business depends to a large extent on the construction of standard ponds built to optimise the living conditions of your fish stock.

When selecting the location for your fish farm, you need to consider it’s proximity from the nearest town and any nearby market, the security in place,and the presence or absence of fish preysuch as birds, snakes among others.

Before you start stocking your fishes, you need to disinfect your pond with an anti-fungi and an anti-bacteria. You should also balance your fish pond’s organic and ion concentration by fertilization with banana leaves or poultry dungs.

Many catfish farmers use concrete ponds or plastic tanks. Both methods have their strengths and weaknesses and it is wise for the would-be catfish farmer to explore these perspectives before making a decision on which to adopt. While using concrete pond seems to be more natural to culturing catfish, plastic tanks have their advantage especially where there’s space constraint.

Using ponds also gives the farmer the leverage of culturing a relatively larger number of fishes as pond design can be tailored from the outset to match intended fish density. Culturing tanks are however limited in sizes and fixed, thus limiting the catfish farmer to stocking the tanks with a restricted number of fishes for best results.

Pond Design:

Appropriate design of your fish pond is critical to the success of your fish farm. You might want to invest in a proffessional consultant for best results if you’re finding it rather difficult to do this right. Yor pond density plays a huge role in the growth rate of fish. Just like is true for all other animals, overcrowding increases competition for resources like food and oxygen. This can promote the growth of some fish at the expense of others and in the end lead to a situation whereby the bigger fish eat up the smaller ones (cannibalism).

Thus, as a fish farmer you should consider the expected population you’re going to stock while designing your pond.For instance, a catfish farmer should target an area of 5ft x 7ft x 3.5ft for 1000 fish. Average water volume of about 6L – 7L per adult catfish should be sufficient.

Also pond design should incorporate provision for the separation of fishes in the event that growth is non-proportionate to avoid cannibalism. Water management for pond would mean periodic changing of water and pond design should incorporate this from the outset to avoid unforseen challenges.

Quality of Fingerlings:

Catfish fingerlings are of different breeds, just like other species of animals. It is important that the catfish farmer takes his time to identify fast growing and disease resistant breeds of fingerlings to ensure profitability in a catfish venture. This can be done through appropriate consultation with a specialist in fingerlings and physically evaluating fingerlings from several farms before making a pick on stock of fingerlings.

You need to purchase fingerlings and juveniles for your fish pond. Fingerlings usually cost around 25 Naira per each, while Juveniles generally sell for abouut 40 Naira each. Carry out your own findings to find out the prevailing costs in your locality.

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Genereal care And Feeding:

For this section, we’ll use the catfish as an example, and for good reason (It’s the most commonly cultured fish in Nigeria). Feeding constitutes the bulk of the cost of rearing catfish, usually 60% and above. In most places  in Nigeria available catfish feeds are imported and cost an average of N7,000/15kg bag. A 15kg bag can take 700 two month old fishes just 10 days. Unlike the imported counterpart, local feeds cost an average of N4000/15kg bag without considerable growth implications. The challenge then would be to optimise feeding without compromising on quality.

Catfish can be fed once or twice a day. Note that overfeeding your fingerlings really has no tangible effect on their overll growth rate. Rtaher, it unduely increases the cost of rearing catfish and thus results in wastage. On the avearge, the cost of growing a catfish juvenile to table size is about N250 – N300.

Feeds are also a primary source of pond water pollution and excessive feeding constitutes a water management challenge.

Feed and Antibiotics Care:

Catfish fry in hatcheries are fed finely ground meal- or flour-type feeds containing 45-50 percent protein. Fines or crumbles from 28 or 32 percent protein feeds for food fish growout are suitable for fry stocked in nursery ponds until they reach 1-2 inches in length.

Larger fingerlings should be fed small floating pellets (1/8 inch diameter) containing 35 percent protein. Advanced fingerlings (5-6 inches) and food fish are generally fed a floating feed of approximately 5/32 – 3/16 inch in diameter containing 28-32 percent protein.

To protect your fish from diseases, drugs such as Amoxil, tetracycline Aquapro and Ultraviolet light have been found to be very effective.

Water Management:

A huge number of fish deaths are actually due to suspect water management practices. Pond design should take into account the pH of water (acidic water kills fish real fast but can be remedied by adding Sodium bicarbonate, basic water is suitable for fingerlings and neutral water (ph 7.0)is essential for fries (baby fishes)). It is also vital that you stimulate the development of plankton by introducing manure to the pond before stocking with fingerlings.

Oxygen consumption of fishes would depend on an effective water management system as excessive plankton growth brings about competition for oxygen among plankton and catfish. Waste from fish and also pollution especially from overfeeding drastically reduce the oxygen content of pond water. For your information, this can be very fatal.

A common sign of declining oxygen supply in your fish pond is the presence of air bubbles on the water surface, or fishes coming to the surface more often to breathe air.

Maturity and breeding:

On the average, African catfish usually attain table size of about 1kg in about 5 months.  Note that this is however dependent on a number of factors including but not limited to;

1. Quality of fingerlings

2. Quality of feeds

3. Water management

4. Prsence of disease and it’s management

5. Stocking density


The cost of market size catfish in Nigeri ranges from N480 – N700 per kg, depending on your location. Considering the unit cost price for each fingerling, and the cost of feeding each to adulthood is about N250 – N300, there’s some real profit to waiting for investors in fish farming business.

The good thing is that the market for catfish has been persistently vibrant, irrespective of geographical location, disparities merely occur in the pricing of catfish: which is dependent on the dynamics of demand and supply.

Fish farming is a profitable business that continues to generate considerable resources for fish farmers across the country. Several factors have contributed to the growth of the fish farming buisness in Nigeria, including the popular “pepper soup” culture as well as the various efforts of various government agencies and of course the commendable entrpreneurship spirit of Nigerians.

Efficient Storage System:

Fish is a very highly perishable product. Hence to protect your investment in fish farming, it’s paramount that you give adequate consideration to storage facilities for both your harvested fish as well as the resources that you need in the daily running of your fish farm such as feed and drugs.

For different purposes, dry cool, or cold storage might be appropriate.

In order to get the most profit from your fish poond harvest, it is necessary to pre-determine the requirements of your prospective buyers, when planning the season’s production. Consider what buyers demand in terms of weight, frequency, size and price.

There’s no use rearing your fish to table size of maybe 1kg, when your clients only need 0.8kg. By doing an initialsurvey and carrying out ongoing assessments, you can easily pick up the prevailing trends and thus strategise accordingly.

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Before you start thinking about quitting your current job to go into fish farming business, remeber that all businesses have their own peculiar challenges. And fish farming is not an exception. Some of the more common challenges that you may likely encounter in fish farming business include;

1. Poor quality of stock

2. Poor location

3. Mismanagemnt of water

4. lack of requisite expertise

5. Flooding

6. Preys such as birds and snakes

For proffessional fish farming business plan, feel free to contact us for the best sevice. Don’t forget that you need a sound business plan to improve your chances of success in any business venture. Even small businesses are not exempt from this simple, yet powerful requirement.

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