The first thing you will need if you are interested in fish farming in Nigeria is land. This could either be in an isolated or more populated area, but no matter where it is, you are going to need some land. Ideally, it should be located in a swampy area or by a riverside, since you will be able to use the natural water source to create a place for the fish to live.
Because it is sometimes difficult to get land near water, you might have to use a different method. You can use virtually any body of water to make a habitat for fish. You can even create a fish pond in your backyard. All you need to do is make a tank-like structure where the fish can live, or get a plastic tank to use instead.
According to research, starting a fish pond can be quite cheap, considering the high returns. With N150, 000, you can start your own business. This amount would take care of the following:
Buying 500 fingerlings or juveniles. (A fingerling is a catfish that is 4 weeks old--about 2 inches long--and costs N20,00 each. A juvenile is less than 4 weeks old--less than 1 inch--and costs between N5 and N7 each.) Most fish farmers prefer buying fingerlings because they are bigger and easier to manage.
Digging or erecting ponds.
Buying food for the fish. It is normally recommended to use imported or factory-packaged feeds in the first three months to enable speedy and healthy growth for the fish. Amongst the feeds one can get are Coppens (the most popular), Obasanjo Farms Fish feeds and Animal Care feeds. These feeds contain antibiotics and vitamins that will keep the fish healthy. Usually, a bag of feed meal costs between N4, 300 and N4, 500.
With these amounts, you can begin your fish farming business.
LIMING THE POND
An important aspect in preparing your pond for business is to lime the pond, artificially or naturally, immediately after construction. This is done to disinfect the pond and make it germ-free. Liming can be accomplished using local materials obtained from farmers. In the liming process, waste products from poultry are mixed with ashes and packed into sacks. The sacks (three or four) are then thrown into the pond and left for at least two weeks.
BENEFITS OF USING A NATURAL FISH POND
The fish will be healthier and grow faster because their environment is closer to their natural habitat.
The fish’s diet can be supplemented by worms and ants already found in the water.
Changing the water is faster and less messy.
DISADVANTAGE OF USING A NATURAL FISH POND
The major disadvantage of using a natural fish pond is that in a heavy downpour, the pond risks being washed away. This could bankrupt the fish farmer, especially if he has invested heavily in the fish farm.
USING AN ARTIFICIAL FISH POND
When using an artificial pond, one must ensure the following:
The water put inside the pond MUST be from the river or from a clean well. Fish cannot survive in water that is not from a river or a well.
After the fish have grown, the water needs to be changed every three days, enabling the fish to be free from germs and providing a clean environment in which they can grow. This is very important. Many farmers who use artificial ponds have encountered great losses in fish populations when their habitat is not kept clean.
A small tunnel should be drilled into the tank to enable the easy passage of water. This tunnel should be covered with a net so the fish cannot escape.
FEEDING YOUR FISH
After getting the fingerlings, they should be fed with the factory-packed feed meal. For the first four weeks, the farmer should buy the 2 mm feed meal packs. (Mm denotes the grammage of the feeds). After that, the feeds should be increased to 3 mm for the rest of the fish’s lifespan.
To supplement the feed meal, a locally-made feed can be used when the fish are grown. This feed contains maize, fish bone, dried fish and soya beans, which are ground together and poured into the pond. Note that this method should be used ONLY when the fish are over three months old. It is also very important to feed the fish at regular intervals to prevent them from eating one another.
OTHER IMPORTANT THINGS TO DO AND NOT DO
Do not add big and small fish together; the bigger ones will eat the smaller ones when they are hungry.
It is advised that you cover the pond with a big net to prevent predatory birds from feeding on the fish.
To serve as disinfectant, a mixture of ashes and salt should be poured into the water at regular intervals.
The pond should be located in a place where the sun can shine on it.
Change the water regularly (especially if you are using an artificial pond) as the waste product from the fish could accumulate and become toxic, killing the fish in the pond.
When digging the pond, you should not place it where there is a high chance of flooding. It would be greatly preferable to dig the pond on an area of higher ground.
HARVESTING THE FISH
This is the moment when a fish farmer hopes to get the reward for his labour. The average growth period for the fish is between four and six months, at which point they can be harvested. To start harvesting, the farmer should have buyers come to the pond; these buyers are mostly traders who will go to a market to resell the fish. They will pump out the pond water and catch the fish with nets. The fish are sold in the market on a per kilo basis, at a kilo cost of N360 to N400. The buyers in the market will then put the fish in large containers to be transported to their various destinations.
A beautiful thing about the business of fish farming is that it can be run by another person if you cannot be there to manage it all the time. It is not essential for the owner of the business to be there, as long as the people he is employing to manage the farm are trustworthy and competent. Fish farming can therefore be a viable business opportunity for Nigerians abroad who are looking to start their own business in Nigeria.
Are you in the fish farming business? Are you interested in starting your own? Tell us why or why not below!