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Fish Farming in Nigeria is one of the country’s lucrative agro-businesses where income is made on a consistent basis.

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Basic Fish Farming Knowledge 

Fish farming in Nigeria, over the years, has become a lucrative business in the agricultural sector of the country.

From the beginning of time, farmers have centred their production of agriculture on peasant farming, farms produce, plantation, livestock farming, (crop farming and animal husbandry). It is the basic and popular farming system in Nigeria.

The fish farming system is the system in which fishes are reared for sale or for consumption. In other words, fish farming entails breeding of different varieties of fishes such as Catfish, Tilapia and Mackerel (Tilapia) etc.

This agro-economic sector (Fish Farming) is a fast-growing business and is popular across every market and some strategic locations.

Gone are the days when the only means of getting fish is by catching it in the local rivers and ponds through trial and errors.

Today, input and output in farm practice are done concurrently.

Talking about fish, it is rich in calcium and phosphorous, and it is equally a great source of iron, zinc, iodine, minerals, magnesium, and potassium.

Fish is one of several prescriptions of medical personnel as a tool for gaining Vitamins and Mineral in its consumption. Its also contain Omega-3 Fatty acids which are high benefits for the heart proper functioning. Majorly people eat fishes for health benefits and health reasons.

Fish farming is a knowledge-driven sector, and this underscores the importance of training, self-development and consultation and management of fishes. Vaccination and medication; prevention, identification, and treatment.

Entrepreneurial and marketing aspects also require training. The Internet provides a variety of information about how to start Fish Farming. You will find many information on the internet on how to start fish farming in Nigeria especially catfish farming.

How To Invest In Fish Farming In Nigeria

This system of farming is one of the most popular agro-businesses in Nigeria, which is fish farming and for good reasons.

If you are an existing farmer and are looking to expand your farm capacity, I’d encourage you to invest in fish farming to boost your line of business.

Fish farming (especially catfish) is the most compatible with the poultry farming system in Nigeria, as you can use the poultry drops to facilitate production of the feed for your fish.

The fish farming business is a dynamic kind of business. It a business which revolves around innovation on a daily basis. Fish farming is a lucrative business if you are determined and can employ the use of required modern equipment into the business.

Aquaculture is an industry that is currently attracting investors due to its lucrative nature, fertile land for fish, high demands for fish and the low supply in the country. To make it in this business, it requires having the right knowledge and proper management skills. With these, high-profit margins are achievable and ensured in this business.

Since fish is a major component of both Nigeria and foreign dishes, therefore, it means the number of demands for fish will grow, and the market for fish will continue to grow and expands as fish is required for local consumption or for export purposes.

This is one of the reasons you need to leverage on this opportunity(invest in fish farming) through local fish breeding and supply. you will not only boost this agricultural level in the country, but you will reduce the cost of fishes and create a job avenue. Thereby reducing the level of unemployment and poverty in the country.

Asides being a profitable business in Nigeria, Fish farming is a capital intensive. You can make a huge profit by going into fish farming or aquaculture business in Nigeria. This business can be run successfully and watch it grow and expand into multi-level business within a short time.

Tyes Of Fish Farming (Fish Species)

There are varieties of fishes that exist, but only a few of these fishes can be breed.             There are basically three major fish species that farmers breed on fish farming.

A Farmer will decide the type of fish which he wants to farm. Below are the most popular fish which are suitable for aquaculture.

  • Cat Fish Farming

Catfish is not the most popular fish in Nigeria, this fish species is by far the most cultivated in Nigeria. Fish Farmers bank on this species of because of it, one major attractive part of this species of fish that it is one of the easiest species to breed. So, People willingly move to this direction because of the natural ease they found in cultivating the cast fish, fish farming system.

Fish farming in Nigeria

Catfish farming can be categories into two parts,  which can be either operated either independently or integrated into the process and these are nurseryfish farming and the grow out fish farming.

The nursery fish farming forms the basic source for every other fish farming because the grow out is dependent on the nursery. The nursery fish farming system involves the inducement of the female fish to lay eggs, which are then fertilized, incubated and hatched into little fishes known as ‘Fries’.

These Fries are nurtured into fingerlings within a month. The size of the Fingerlings is suitable size used to grow out a fish farming. The primary operation lies between the nursery and grows out, and it involved the nurturing of the four weeks, within which they grow into post fingerlings, mini-juvenile, and juveniles.
  • Tilapia Fish Farming-

Tilapia Fish is the second most popular fish in the Nigeria aquaculture industry. Tilapia fish species live in fresh shallow water.  It produces very rapidly and grows fast, also, it easy to cultivates and is very popular in the Nigerian market. The world aquaculture production of Tilapia Fish farming is 4.2million tonnes with an estimated value of about 3to $ 3.5billion.

Tilapia fish farming in Nigeria

When it comes to Tilapia Fish farming low-lying area with water stagnation, is suitable for agricultural activities. Tilapia fish is the easiest and most profitable fish to farm due to its omnivorous diet, mode of reproduction. Tilapia Fish farming in channels or tanks is considered safe for the environment since their waste and disease is contained and not spread to the wild.

Fertilization should be carried out depending on the soil quality in the pond. A combination of both organic and inorganic fertilizers may be used for best results. The fertilization schedule has to be prepared and can be modified depending on the growth of the fish.

  •  Mackerel Fish Farming(Titus)

This is the most popular eaten fish by Nigeria and most demanded in the market but so sad it’s not farmed. Mackerel is the species of fish popularly known as Titus, All Mackerel fishes are ‘wild caught.’ How can these blue sea water fish survive? Some farmers in Nigeria are considering the possibilities of trying to create salty water similar to the seawater where mackerel can only survive.

There are lot and lot more questions lying unanswered about the possible survivability of a Mackerel fish farming. There are many factors that needed to be considered before choosing a fish as an aquaculture candidate and it beyond the issue of either salt, brackish or fresh water.

The most important thing to be considered is the Biology of the (mackerel fish) this has covered water issue.

This first factor to be considered in Mackerel fish farming is the uncertainty about the fish seed produced artificially. No research has confirmed about the country annual temperature range supports the growth and reproduction of the Mackerel fish farming species.  On the same light, confirmation of the feed and feeding habit of Mackerel fish.

There is no obvious research that detects the hardy of the fish to the extent of surviving in our harsh farming system, likewise research hasn’t affirmed to the level of the fast growth of Mackerel fish. Mackerel fish water manipulation is so slim as to create an optimum water quality parameter for the Mackerel fish.

There are different types of Mackerel fish farming, which live on selected water for survival. They are Indian Mackerel, Chub Mackerel, Atlantic horse Mackerel, and the Pacific jack mackerel.

Indian Mackerel

The Indian Mackerel species is one of the several mackerel fish farming, which is mainly found in Indian and West Pacific oceans, and their surrounding seas. The Indian Mackerel is used as food fish and is commonly used in the South and South-Eastern Cuisine. It is popular by these other names as Bangda, Aiyla Meen, Bangude and Bangda.

The Indian Mackerel fish has a moderate body deep. The head is longer than the depth of the body. The average body of the Indian mackerel is around 25 cm. But they can reach a maximum of 35cm total body length.

Chub Mackerel

The Chub Mackerel species is another one of several mackerel fish farming. Atlantic chub mackerel can be found in the Mediterranean Sea, the Black Sea, and the Atlantic Ocean. This medium-sized pelagic fish species occurs in deeper waters during the colder part of the year and near coastal waters in warmer temperatures where they spawn and feed. This species is known to travel great distances through the open ocean.

The mackerel is elongated and streamlined fish with a deeply forked tail. It has spines on the dorsal fin. The Atlantic Chub Mackerel is silvery in colour, with a greenish blue back. The upper surface has dark zigzagging stripes and the belly is pale and marked with wavy lines.

The Atlantic Chub Mackerel is a fast-growing species. They mature at 2–3 years of age but are relatively long-lived, typically 8–10 years. The spawning season is March to April in the Mediterranean and June to July in the more northern ranges. This species ( Atlantic Chub Mackerel) spawns her the surface of the water and become larvae after 6 days. School of juvenile fish stays near the coast until they mature into adults.

Atlantic Horse Mackerel

The Horse Mackerel is another form of species of Mackerel fish, which can largely be found in the eastern Atlantic from Norway to South Africa, including Iceland, the Azores, the Canary Island, and Cape Verde, and also in the Medditarean and the Black Sea.

The Atlantic Horse Mackerel fish has an elongate and fairly compressed body. Their head is large, and the posterior end of upper jaw reaching the anterior margin of the eye and the lower jaw is projected.

The Atlantic Horse Mackerel fish is a species of Jack Mackerel in Carangedea’s family. It is also known by some other names such as Saurel, European Horse Mackerel, Scad, Common Scad, and Western Horse Mackerel etc. It gets it’s a common name from the legend that other smaller species of fish could ride on it’s back over great distances.

The Pacific Jack Mackerel

The Pacific Jack Mackerel is another form of species of Mackerel fish. It is also known as the Californian Jack Mackerel or simply Jack Mackerel, it is an abundance of the pelagic marine in Jack family, Carangidae.

The body of the jack mackerel is rather elongate; somewhat compressed. The body tapers to a tail, which is as broad as it is deep. The colour is metallic blue to olive green above becoming silvery below. The jack mackerel, which is not a true mackerel, is quite similar to the Mexican scad but can be distinguished by the enlarged scales along the side and by the last rays of the dorsal and anal fins being attached to the body. These rays are isolated finlets on the Mexican scad.

Benefits of Fish Farming

1. Fish is Popular

Fishery products are by far the most popular animal products in the market, constituting more than 60% of meat products in the Nigerian market.

2. Fish is Source of Protein

Fish provides one of the highest sources of protein. It is a low-fat high-quality protein that is filled with omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins such as D and B2 (riboflavin). Fish is also very rich in calcium and phosphorus and is equally a great source of minerals, such as iron, zinc, iodine, magnesium, and potassium for the body.

3. Fish Sells Quick

Fish is a hot commodity in the market. Fish sells faster than any other animal products in the market and is relatively cheaper than meats, making it the number one choice when it comes to affordability.

4. Fish Matures Quickly

If proper steps and processes are taken fish grows rapidly. Fish grows very fast as practices in fish farming make it possible for farmers to increase the fastness of their fish growth by giving them certain feeds, ensuring that you harvest and sell within the short period of time.

5. Fish Contains Omega-3

The best provider of Omega-3 acid is the proper consumption of fish. Fish is the biggest source of Omega-3 fatty acids which is extremely beneficial to a human heart; Omega-3 helps to keep our heart and brain very healthy. Since the human body doesn’t produce Omega-3 fatty acids, the only source through which we can get it is by what we eat, that is where fish comes to the rescue.

6. Fish Farming is Profitable

Fish farming is very profitable. With proper planning and good management, N3 million investment in fish farming could easily result in N4 million of pure profit within six months.

7. No Environmental Hazard

Fish farm does not cause any environmental hazard. Unlike poultry farming, you can set up the fish farm anywhere, including residential areas. If you have a spacious compound, you can easily set up a small fish farm within your backyard without any regulatory precaution.

Feeds: Feeding of Fish, In a Fish Farming system

The feed: Feeding of fish in the fish farming system is one major key factor to be considered by every fish farmer. The feeds and feeding of fish farming are different, the feeding is categorized into two. Thus, it shall be analyzed below.

Types Of Feeding For Fishes:

Basically, the analysis below will show the different types of feeding for Catfish, which is different from the types of the size of feeding feed for catfishes in the system of fish farming by fish farmers. Here are the two types of feeding Broadcast Feeding and Spot feeding.

Broadcast Feeding: This basically involves going around the ponds by spreading floating feed all over the pond to ensure the circulation of feeds for all the fishes in the pond.

This is the easiest ways for fishes if they are in the fingerlings to the post-juvenile stage. This should be done because they just got introduced into a large quantity of water, often from somewhere significantly smaller, and not all the fishes can come to the same spot to eat.

By spreading the extruding (or floating) fish across the pond, it will ensure they all get to eat.

Once your fishes become more mature, often this is in the post-juvenile stage or around 30 – 50 grams, you are advised to instantly switch to spot feeding.

Spot Feeding: Spot feeding is less time-consuming and it’s more effective since it is less stressful and you can carefully monitor how your fishes are eating.

Spot feeding is basically the feeding of your fishes in one single spot.

At first, if they are used to eating using the broadcast style, most of the fishes won’t come to a particular spot to eat; however, by only feeding them on that spot for a few days, they’ll be conditioned to come to that spot and eat.

Farmers should try to base the fishes to eat in one spot once they reach 30 – 50 grams, or after 2 – 3 weeks of stocking them from a juvenile stage.

Two Types Of Fish Feed

Since there are different stages of catfish growth, there are different stages of fish feed; the fish feed is often denoted in mm, hence, you’ll see/hear about 1.5mm feed, 1.8mm feed, 2mm feed, 4mm feed, 6mm feed etc.  These are the mainly 4 types of catfishes:

  • Fingerlings (3 to 4 grams)
  • Post-fingerlings (4 – 6 grams)
  • Juvenile (6 – 10 grams)
  • Post-juvenile (10 grams and above)

Also, there are two types of Fish Feed, they are Extruded(Floating) and the non-Extruded(sinking) feed.

Extruded  Feed( Floating) 

The Extruded feed is also referred to as a Floating feed. This type of feed is the early fish feed given to fish in their early stage. This is the best feed for fishes for 7-8 weeks.

It is recommended giving Catfishes floating feed at the early stage because they are more fragile at their early stage. Catfishes are mostly bottom feeder, so by their very nature, they are designed to be eating non-extruded (or sinking) feed.

With floating feed, you can put the feed on the pond gradually and let them eat it; the risk of overfeeding is significantly reduced, thereby ensuring there is no water pollution that can lead to high mortality in the very fragile juveniles.

Furthermore, due to their fragile nature, giving the juveniles feed that isn’t rich and not containing the right nutrients can affect their long-term growth.

Non-Extruded Feed (Sinking)

The Non- Extruded feed is also referred to as a Sinking Feed. This type of feed is the employed feed after the 8 weeks of feeding your fishes with Floating (Extruded) feed.

What are the Sizes Of Feeds For Your CatFishes

There is no one size for all for Fishes, There are different sizes of feeds you will find (mm) about 1.5mm feed, 1.8mm feed, 2mm feed, 4mm feed, 6mm feed etc.

As mentioned above that there are various fish feed sizes, whether you go for floating or sinking feed; sinking feed is usually bigger, and longer, than floating feed.

The bigger your fishes, the bigger the feed size they can pick.

Suitably recommendation recommends if you just stocked your ponds, fishes that fall into the following listed categories:

  • Fingerlings (3 to 4 grams)1.5mm feed size
  • Post-fingerlings (4 – 6 grams)1.8mm feed size
  • Juvenile (6 – 10 grams)2mm feed size
  • Post-juvenile (10 – 50 grams)2mm feed size

As your fishes grow, the size of feed they can pick will increase. Here are the recommended sizes for bigger fishes, based on their size/weight if you’re to give them floating feed:

  • 10 – 50 grams2mm feed size
  • 50 – 150 grams: 3mm feed size
  • 150 – 400 grams4mm feed size

All things being equal, your fishes should be around 200 – 300 grams in 2 months with floating feed alone, if they are being fed properly; after then, you can switch to sinking feed and give them the following feed sizes:

200 – 300 grams2mm feed size

300 to 600 grams: 4mm feed size

600 grams to 1kg+: 6mm feed size

If your fishes exceed 1kg in weight, and you’re able to get bigger feed sizes, then you can consider giving them 8mm, or even later 10mm, feed sizes. 3 to 4kg fishes eat 6mm sinking feed is just fine.

Building Of Fish Ponds For Fish Farming

The planning of a farmer or a prospective fish farming investors is not completed if a proper arrangement is not set aside for the construction of a fish pond. The Fishponds is referred to as an artificial fish ponds, it is a great alternative to natural water reservoirs, in which fish can be breed is in a controllable environment.

There are two main types of artificial fish ponds: concrete and earth. Nevertheless, fish can also be bred in plastic, fibreglass or wooden reservoirs.

Construction of an earthen Pond

Construction of an earthen pond is a process that involves the digging of a hole in the ground, which is about 1m deep at the shallow end and 2m deep where the fish is bred. There are no specific demands for the design of such ponds. You can make them whatever you like providing they meet all the needs of fish.

Typically, earthen ponds are round or square but you are free to choose any shape you like. You should be sure to have had a stable clean water supply that connects to the pond. Construction of a concrete pond.

Concrete fish pond

Concrete fish pond construction in Nigeria is not much different from the same process anywhere else in the world. You will need several blocks and some cement in order to construct thicker walls (about 5cm thick) and an even thicker bottom (about 10cm thick). This is signalling that a slightly bigger hole will be required than for that of an earthen pond if you want to hold the same amount of water in it.

Better still, concrete ponds are better in terms of hygiene.

Embankment fish pond

Construction of an embankment pond is probably the simplest construction that requires only a less effort. All you need to do is create a dam that will cut a part of a natural reservoir of water, creating a pond.

Plastic Tank fish Ponds

This is a type of fish pond that require less capital; little energy is invested, it saves time and space as well.  A plastic fish pond is a constructed plastic tank pond which is carved out of a full tank, which house breed fishes as the earthen pond, concrete fish pond, and embankment fish ponds do.

Such tanks can be of different shapes and sizes, so you can have the right size and price which matches your requirements.

Risks and Challenges in Fish Farming In Nigeria

1. Sensitive to Manage

Fish is very sensitive to manage and a slight mistake could result in degenerated growth of your fish or even death which may cause massive revenue loss.

2. Capital Intensive

Setting up a fish farm is capital intensive, much more than that of poultry and Setting up a fish farm requires more careful planning and much capital input. A relatively small fish farm may take up to N500,000 to setup, while bigger ones take millions of naira.

3. Fish is Priced High

Due to the cost of production, fish produced from the farm is priced higher than those caught from the rivers and ponds by fishermen. Therefore, if there is a good quantity of fisherman’s fish in the market, you may find it difficult to sell as people would prefer the cheaper ones.

4. No Byproduct

There is no byproduct in the fishery, unlike poultry where even the drop can be harvested and sold to other farmers and make extra profit. In fishery, all you get is the flesh.

What You Need To Get Started In Fish Farming

1. Secure a Land

Any location is good since fish doesn’t cause any environmental disturbance. Look for land where you can get it cheap and buy. Depending on the capacity you wants to operate on, a half plot of land is just good enough for an average fish farm.

However, you may go for something bigger like full plot or two if you can afford it probably for convenience sake. If you already have a compound with leftover space you thing can accommodate two or three pounds, you may use it.

2. Construct Ponds

You need to engage the service of expert pond construction engineer or you go to another fish farm to get the specification and construction requirements. The plumbing work must be properly done to ensure proper drainage.

Adequate water supply is the lifeblood of fish farm and lack of it may result in disaster because water needs to be changed on a regular interval. Naturally available sources of water such as borehole and river water are the most suitable. Rainwater and tap water from the chemically treated source is not recommended for fish cultivation.

4. Install Overhead Tank

This is the water reservoir from which water is supplied to your ponds. This tank has to be connected to your ponds through the plumbing system to make it convenient for water to flow into your ponds when needed.

5. Get Juvenile Fish

Get your juvenile from another farm that specializes in supplying it. You need to go for the high yield species of catfish or tilapia and make sure you are getting it from a healthy farm.

6. Get Training

Not the kind of training you get from one-day seminars; you need to get attached to a fish farm for proper apprenticeship. For you to properly learn this trade, you need at least two months training on this.

Remember that your investment is at stake, trial and error is not good in business except you have unlimited funds to experiment with.