Catfish farming business is a very lucrative one. There are many business opportunities in catfish farming, thus, making catfish farming a multi – generator of income. It can be practiced as a part-time or a full-time business.
In Nigeria, the demand for Catfish is higher than its supply. Bar owners, restaurants and hotel owners, etc. need the supplies to satisfy their customers’ demands, but the supply most times are not enough or not reliable. The reason for this is because there are not too many people engaged in this business and the market for the product is enormous.
It is a business you can start-up with the little amount you have and make profit. Six months period is enough for you to rear a table sized catfish i.e. if you are into grow-out fish farming and 2-3 weeks is enough if you are into nursery fish farming. It all depends on you.
Catfish farming is a part of pisciculture which involves rearing of catfish either for consumption or for business purposes. Catfish is used in homes, hotels, restaurants bars, relaxation spots, joints, etc. to prepare special delicacies like catfish pepper soup, grilled fish and soups. In Nigeria, it is popularly known as ” point and kill ”. It is also processed to get health and beauty products and other useful materials. Catfish is a good source of protein, calcium and other essential minerals like omega-3.
How to start catfish farming
Here are the steps you should take to start your catfish farming business:
1. Conduct a feasibility and viability study:
Before you venture into any business, conduct a feasibility and viability study in the location you intend to start-up the business. This will enable you choose the best location of the fish pond, water supply, drainage pattern, market for harvested fish, etc., considering the soil type, environment, access to go road, closeness to market, labor and prevent public nuisance.
Also, it will enable you know your competitors, their strategies and how to make it big in the same line. Knowledge is power! A good knowledge of these mentioned above, will enable you to be successful in catfish farming.
2. Get a suitable piece of land:
Get a piece of land either large or small depending on the scale you want to go into. Construct a pond for the fish. Experts recommend that catfish ponds should have soil which contains 20-30 percent clay. It helps to decrease seepage and makes fishes feel like they are in their natural habitats and tends to adapt well.
Although, there are different types of ponds which include; concrete ponds, plastic ponds, earthen ponds, etc. The plastic ponds are cheaper to construct and convenient especially for small-scale production. For earthen ponds, the fishes grow faster and taste better as they feel more like in their natural habitats. The concrete ponds last longer and better choice for large-scale production.
It is advisable to engage the service of a consultant when constructing a fish pond or a pond construction engineer to construct the pond because a mistake in the construction of the pond can incur loss in the business. There are standard measurement for constructing a fish pond.
3. You need a reliable source of water supply:
Another thing to look into is water supply. Catfish are naturally found in freshwater. Water is very essential for fishes. Take fish out of its water, it cannot survive for 10 minutes. For earthen ponds, you have no problem with water supply since the water comes from the ground and filtered by the soil. The growth of the fishes is proportional to the quality of water. The best way to ensure adequate quality water is to ensure natural water enters and leaves the pond. Make sure the water is clean and free from contamination.
It is preferable to make use of bore hole water for those making use of concrete ponds or plastic ponds. Overhead tanks should be installed together with pumping device to ensure steady supply of water in case of water scarcity. If possible, you need a pH meter to always check the hydrogen ion concentration of the water. Acidic water kills the fishes, basic water is suitable for juveniles and neutral water is suitable for fries.
Ensure that the pond water is replaced after every two days. This will keep the pond clean, less odour and prevent diseases. The depth of water should be within 3-8ft. When water is too shallow, growth of aquatic weed is encouraged. They compete with the fish for space and survival, hence, slows down the growth of the fishes.slows
Catfish feeds on insects, worms, frogs, newts, small reptiles and mammals.
4. Secure a reliable supplier of fish feeds:
It is best to buy fish feeds before you purchase your fingerlings or juvenile so that you can start feeding them once they are introduced into the pond. There are various kinds of feeds for various stages of catfish. The fries are fed with finely grinded meal which contains 45-50 percent protein. Grow-out fish should be fed with fine or crumbles which contains 28-32 percent protein, while larger fingerlings should be fed with small floating pellets containing 35 percent protein.
Fish growth is dependent on the quality and quantity of feed it is given. When the feed do not smell or taste good, the fish would not eat them. There are different types of feeds for catfish which imported and also locally made. They include Cuppens, Ziglar, Multi-feed, vita feed, etc. and other locally manufactured feeds. It is advisable to feed the fish with Cuppens and Ziglar for the first two weeks to two months before proceeding to others. Each feed contains a quantity of fish in it.
5. Get fingerlings from trusted source:
Get the fish (fingerlings or juvenile ) you wish to introduce into the pond from a right source, either from a major supplier or from a recommended fish farmer. There are different species of catfish, getting it from the right source will enable you get fast growing and disease resistant breeds for profitable venture.
Female catfish spawn between 10-90 eggs at a time close to the surface of the water to keep them safe from aquatic animals dwelling at the bottom of the pond and they hatch in less than one week.
Due to their carnivorous nature, stronger catfish feeds on the weaker ones. To reduce such, feed them consistently using same routine. For instance, if you decide to feed them two times a day, maybe 6am and 6 pm, be consistent to avoid them feeding on the younger or weak ones. When feeding them, do it on a particular section of the pond. This will reduce feed waste, contamination and create space for enough oxygen for the fishes. Feed the fishes until they are satisfied, this can only be seen when only a few still comes up the water.
Some other vital considerations
Here are some things you should take care of as a fish farmer to ensure success:
- A catfish farmer should be aware of some natural enemies of catfish, although it depends on the size and the specie of the catfish. Mammals,bigger reptiles, bigger birds,etc. can kill and eat catfish.
- Watch out for symptoms of diseases such as loss of colour, inactive, frayed fins, bloated body, open sores, breathing difficulty, inflammation of the skin, etc. Catfish can be affected by fungal, bacterial and parasites infections. To prevent these, supply clean water, feed them from a particular section of the pond, avoid overcrowding and remove dead eggs to prevent spread of disease such diseases can be treated using formalin, hydrogen peroxide, povidone-iodine and copper sulphate.
- The drainage for passage of waste water from the fish pond should be built in such a way that it doesn’t cause nuisance and it can be channelled into a receptive tank, recycled and reused.
Business opportunities in fish farming
Various businesses found in catfish farming include:
1. Nursery fish farming – This involves introducing the female fish to lay eggs. The egg is allowed to fertilize, incubate and hatched. The hatched fish are called fries. They are raised to fingerlings or juveniles for 4-5weeks and then sold off to make profit.
2. Grow-out fish farming – This depends on the nursery fish farming. The fingerlings or juveniles from the nursery fish farming is raised to table sized fish (big enough for consumption) for 4-6 months and then can be sold to consumers, hotels, restaurants, joints, etc to make profit.
3. Consultancy – This involves knowing about the fish business, practice it for up to 5 years and be able to help people who intend going into fish farming to make decisions that will help them to be successful. This is also fish money.
4. Fish Feeds production and sales – some of the fish feeds are imported while others are manufactured locally. Investing in fish feed is also a big money. You can also decide to obtain license to distribute fish feed across the country.
5. Sales of smoked, dry and grilled fish – for consumption or to processing company is also a big money to the seller since it is used for health and beauty products.
6. Rendering of services such as digging of ponds, labourer in a fish farm, hiring of generating set, pipes, etc are all source of money.
As you have seen, there are numerous opportunities in fish farming. Do your feasibility study to get a full grasp of the business prospects with respect to your resources, location and experience.
See further training and guidance on this business from existing fish farm owners. You may choose to start with a small amount of fingerlings in an upon surface plastic pond as a way of test-running the business. Thereafter, you can then go into the business in a large-scale.
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