Launching a catfish farm is an interesting way to earn more money or to start a new career.
Catfish have already been farmed for food for generations in Africa, Asia, Europe, and America. Farm-raised catfish are so popular in Nigeria, in fact, the Nigerian former President of Taxation established National Catfish Day on June 25, 1987.
Those who would like to learn to how to start a catfish farm must decide the size of operation they really want, be sure adequate water is available and decide what type of sales they are going to carry out; along with plan a budget and create a marketing strategy.
Step 1: Decide first whether you will start a little operation or a large farm.
A large amount of start-up capital is sufficient to start a large catfish farm, potentially a large locally owned farm in about half-Million Naira. It’s recommended to start with a minimum of 80 to 100 acres of ponds be established to boost the chance a catfish farm will be successful.
The upside to having a greater operation is that you can produce fish on the cheap per pound. It is because larger producers can easily buy supplies like catfish feed in bulk, which leads to savings.
Find out whether or not the catfish will thrive in the water you will be using. You will need to buy an aerator; an electric aerator usually performs well for large farms, but if electricity is not obtainable in your local area, it’s also possible to use a gasoline or diesel powered aerator.
If you use an existing pond, it will likely require modification. For top harvesting, the bottoms of catfish ponds need to be smooth, neat and have gradual slopes.
Check to find out if your ponds have spillways. Spillways should be kept clear of debris. To maintain fish in the pond in case of excess water runoff, the spillway should allow for only about one or two inches (2.5 to 5.1 cm) of water to run over at once.
It’s recommended by experts that catfish ponds should have soil which is 20 or 30 percent clay by weight. This can help to reduce seepage.
Water depth in catfish ponds should not be less than 3 feet (.9 m) at the shallow end and only 8 feet (2.4 m) in the deep end. Water that’s too shallow can cause the increase of nuisance aquatic weeds.
Step 2: Determine what type of sales you will focus on so that you can start with the marketing strategy for the business.
Larger producers should think about selling their products to fish processing plants. Most a times, farmers are able to purchase shares with the plants which they offer, and although the specific profit per pound has a small mark, it could be made up for in volume.
In addition, there are also benefits of keeping your catfish operation smaller and doing direct sales to customers. Because fish spoils easily, consumers are often more likely to buy fresh fish instead of fish which were frozen for a while.
Step 3: Construct a detailed budget. Make sure you include line items for catfish production essentials you will need every year: feed, fingerlings, workforce, fuel, electricity, equipment, supplies, and repairs. For those who have secured financing from places like the bank for your catfish farm venture, don’t forget to add the interest you will be paying back for the money borrowed.
Also create a list of estimated costs for items, such as the construction of more ponds, pumps, wells, vehicles, feed bins, tractors, and buildings.
Step 4: Research what permits you need to launch your catfish farm. Check into the building, retail, tax, drainage and other types of permits which might be required. Remember to check for the zoning of the land on which the fish farm would be located even if it isn’t zoned properly; you may be able to take the case to the local board of zoning for appeals and have the zoning changed.
In some states in Nigeria, you may also need propagation and transportation permits.
Step 5: Look out for the signs of fish disease, what actions you can take to prevent it, and what chemicals are safe to use to treat disease that does arise.
Look for open sores, yellowish, eroded areas on the bodies, fins, gills or mouths of the fish, swollen gills or bloody fins. One way to reduce the chance of disease is not to overcrowd the ponds. Set no more than 2 pounds of eggs in an 8-inch hatching bag.
Check for dead eggs daily and make sure they are removed. Deceased eggs can spread disease.
Several chemicals are FDA-approved for treating the disease in catfish ponds. The most used ones are Formalin, hydrogen peroxide, Poseidon-iodine, and copper sulfate.
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