The most popular agricultural business in Nigeria is a fish farming business. Gone are the days when the only means of getting fish is by going to the local river. Nowadays, the civilized farm practice has made it convenient to grow fish in the farms and also control the input.
Fish farming is the main form of aquaculture (farming of aquatic organisms like fish, crustaceans, and aquatic plants). It deals with raising fish on a large scale in ponds, tanks, or enclosures. Fish could be grown in two ways:
Extensive aquaculture where fish grow under natural waters. While intensive aquaculture where fish are fed with external food supply.
How to Start Fish Farming
Regardless of the farming scale you desire to operate, small or large, these few steps will get you started:
1. Good Location for Your Fish Farming Business
Determine if you are starting your fish business on a small or a big scale. If you are starting a small scale fish farm, you may start at your backyard with a tank. If you choose to operate on a large scale, you may need to get fish ponds outside your home.
2. Good Source of Water for Your Fish
Water is important to fish as oxygen is important to man. Take a fish out of the water and it becomes helpless and dying. Also, put it in dirty water, you will be affecting its growth and productivity.
My point is, you need a good source of water for your fish. However, what is “good water” to humans isn’t good water to fish. For instance, we can drink treated water but such water could be poisonous to the fish because of the chemicals used in the water, so chemical-free water is a good water for your fish
3. Choose the Appropriate Pond or Plastic Tank for Keeping Your Fish
Just like you, your fish needs a comfortable place to live. A natural and comfortable fish pond is better for your fish farming business. There are two popular fish housing system;
- A plastic tank may be good for you if you are just starting fish farming on a small scale.
- A fish pond is good for housing a large number of fish.
Fish ponds sizes are also different and their cost varies, depending on your environment and need.
4. Decide the Right Species of Fish to Farm
There are hundreds (if not thousands) of species of fish. This means, you as a potential fish farmer have to decide which species to start your fish farming business in Nigeria with.
5. Get Healthy Juveniles
Juveniles are the little fishes you will need to grow to table-size. Fish has its own stage of development which are;
- Fry: is the development stage of fish immediately after the larvae stage. They are usually less than a week old.
- Fingerling: is the development stage of fish following the fry stage and continuing into the first three to four months of life.
- Yearling: is the stage following the fingerling stage and lasts until one year. The development stage after fingerling is what we refer to as juvenile. The best practice if you are just starting a fish farm in Nigeria is to buy juveniles.This will save you from the headache of much mortality you may experience from fingerlings.
There are fish farmers that specialize in hatching fingerlings and selling juveniles. Make sure you go to a reputable fish hatchery to avoid getting an unhealthy juvenile.
6. Choosing the Appropriate Fish Feeds
There are 3 kinds of feed for fish.
- Natural fish feed: these are fish feeds that are found naturally in the fish pond.
- Supplementary fish feed: this usually includes cheap materials locally available such as terrestrial plants, kitchen wastes, or agricultural by-products. It may be good, but they are not advisable for serious fish farmers except they include the other types of feeds. Many people who are into fish farming in Nigeria use supplementary feeds.To some, it is profitable. To others, it’s a loss.
- Complete feed: these are feeds specifically processed for fish feeding. They are usually of good ingredients and nutrients, made by the experts who understand the perfect formula for the fish at a different stage.
7. Be Business-Minded
Many fish farmers are of the belief that “It is just about feeding the fish and selling them”.
They are wrong!
Fish farming entails wider activities than this. It is a business and if you want to succeed in this venture in Nigeria, you must take it as a serious business. An adage says, “Anything worth doing at all is worth doing well”.
To get the best of your fish farming business, take it seriously, and to do that you must be business-minded.
8. Marketing Your Product Before They Grow
Farmers, while starting a fish farming business in Nigeria, make the mistake of thinking that the market is readily there.
It’s not true.
You have to start marketing your business to potential buyers before your fish are ready for sale. Yes, the demand for fish is high but you might not be too lucky to meet a buyer when your fish is ready for harvest. Hence, it is advisable to start publicizing on time, so you get available buyers, and it also helps you determine the quantity of fish to offer for sale.
9. Find a Mentor and Fish Farming Trainer
Usually, the difference between success and failure in any business is knowledge. If you are serious about starting a large scale profitable fish farming business in Nigeria, undertake some training, and find mentors. As a newbie in the business, you don’t have any experience.
To prevent trial and error, you need to welcome guidance from an experienced and successful individual in the fish farming business.
Fish Farming Equipment
If you are thinking of a small or a large commercial fish farming business in Nigeria, the following are the basic equipment you’ll need to start:
- Fish Pond: it might be concrete, or tank of any sizes (depending on the scale of business you want to operate)
- Good Water: Though water is a gift from nature, you may still have to spend money to dig a borehole. There is what we call “water quality” in the fish business and it simply means you must have good and reliable water for your fish
- Fish Feed: Your fish will eat various kinds of feed at the different phases of their lives.
- Fish Net: This is used for harvesting fish when your fish are ready for sale.
- Labor: You may not need labor if you are starting a small scale fish farm but you will need some labor if you are going on a large commercial scale.
- Weight, Bows, etc
If you are new in the fish business, you probably want to know which of the species of fish is most profitable in Nigeria. Well, the straight answer to your question is; catfish and tilapia fish. This is because of our climate, their growth, and the fish market.
- Climate: Just as it is in livestock, crops, or other agriculture business, climate and geographical locations affect different plants, species, or crops differently.
- Fish Growth: going into the fish farming business is simply to earn profit within the shortest time frame, but not all fish grow on time. Hence, selecting the fastest-growing fish which is tilapia and catfish is advisable.
- Fish Market in Nigeria: Even when all the above points are in your favor, you still don’t have a business, until the market smiles at what you are selling.
Why Invest in Fish Farming?
1. Fish is Popular
Fishery products are the most well-known animal products in the market, constituting over an average of meat products in the Nigerian market.
2. Fish Sells Quick
The fish commodity is a hot one in the market. Fish sales are faster than any animal product and are less expensive than meats, making it the first choice of every consumer when it comes to affordability.
3. Fish Matures Quickly
If adequate measures are put in place, fish grows rapidly. Fish growth is fast as modern practices in fish farming make it possible for the farmers’ actions to fasten the growth of the fish by giving them certain feeds, ensuring that you can harvest and sell within a short period.
4. Fish Farming is Profitable
Fish farming business is a lucrative business. After a period of rearing fish for 6 months and harvesting your fish, you will get a return on capital and also a substantial net profit.
5. No Environmental Hazard
Fish farm does not involve any environmental hazard. Fish farming can be set up anywhere, unlike poultry farming that has residential restrictions due to its odor. Once you have a well spacious garden, you can start a small scale fish farming without any regulatory precaution.
Abiding with the above steps will aid you in setting up your fish business. As lucrative as the fish farming business is, it can be very disastrous if mistakes are not prevented.