How to Start Profitable Catfish Farming Business

Catfish farming business in Nigeria seems difficult to invest, if you don’t have the resources to do so. Catfish farming involves growing catfish to table-size, marketing them and selling them at a good price. It is a viable business that many people have gone in and out of for various reasons. Some have succeeded at it and made profit while others have failed and abandoned it with several loss after trials.

 

Nonetheless, more people want to get into the business of catfish farming in Nigeria and they want to get it right. They want to succeed at it and make profit and so I get regular emails and calls from such people on what they need to do to operate a viable catfish business in Nigeria. I will try and answer them in a simple way that has worked for me.

I advice you to start small. Start with growing about one thousand  pieces of juvenile catfish to table size in 15 weeks and selling them. Here are tips on the basic things you need and how to go about it.


Facilities

  • Half plot of land
  • Constant supply of fresh water from well or borehole;
  • 3 Ponds each of about 8 square metres in area. The ponds can be made of concrete, tarpaulin, or polyvinyl chloride (PVC);
  • Plastic containers and one square metre of net.

Good breed of juvenile catfish

What are fingerlings? Catfish aged 0 to 4 weeks.

What are juvenile catfish? Catfish aged 4 to 8 weeks.

What are the catfish species commonly grown in Nigeria? Clarias gariepinus, Heterobranchus bidorsalis, and hybrid of Clarias and Heterobranchus (Heteroclarias).

Which catfish breed is best for growing in Nigeria? All 3 mentioned above will do well if properly managed.

How do you know a good catfish breed? They are healthy and lively at the fingerlings stage.


Three to four months feeding budget

It is important to ensure that you have a reliable supply of feed for the duration you grow your catfish. As of October, 2016 you need about two hundred thousand naira (N200, 000) to feed 1000 pieces of catfish from juvenile to table size in 15 weeks. Some brands of bagged floating catfish feed available in Lagos, Nigeria are Coppens and Vital feed which as of October, 2016 cost N11,500 and N5,800 per bag respectively. A bag holds 15kg of floating catfish feed. Try to update this estimation yourself


Catfish farming activities

Catfish are carnivorous animals and could be omnivorous. You feed the catfish 2times daily in the mornings and evenings. You can feed 3times daily too but be consistent with whichever number of times you choose to feed your catfish. When you feed the catfish spread the feed over the area of the pond so that every fish has a good chance of feeding well. Feed till satisfaction.

Use quality feed. The cost per bag of quality feed might seem high but the aim is to grow the fish from juvenile to table size as quickly as possible in less than 16 weeks. Fact, feeding with rich-quality feed saves time and money.

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Change the catfish pond water regularly. Endeavour to change the water in the pond every 3 days. In the first month changing every 4 days will be okay.

Like human beings catfish grow at different rates. Sort the fish by size every 3 to 4 weeks and keep catfish of similar size in the same pond. Failure to do so on time will cause the bigger ones to eat the smaller ones.

Catfish in the ponds should be spaced out. Overcrowding of catfish wastes feed and slows growth.

Favour the faster growing fish. Feed them well and prioritise their spacing. If you do it right they should hit table size in 10 to 12 weeks.

Sell your catfish as soon as they reach the marketable size you aim for. When you clear the faster growing fish you can space out the remaining fish to occupy the pond space vacated by the faster growing fish.

Catfish eat more feed as they grow older so the longer you keep them in the ponds when you can sell them at a good price the more costs you incur. A substantial cost of operating a catfish farm goes to buying their feed.


Marketing

The profitability of your catfish farming activities depends on the effectiveness of your marketing. Your marketing should begin the day you decide to go into the business. Create or Join the community of local or online Catfish Farmers and consumers around your service areas.

Factors to Consider :

  • The price people buy their catfish from sellers in the market.
  • The price sellers buy their catfish from catfish farms
  • How sellers buy their catfish from the catfish farms.
  • The cost of catfish feed.
  • The total costs of running your catfish farming business.

Keep Record

Records are very important to your business. In fact, you should start keeping record from the day you start to invest 1kobo. Types of records you should keep are:

Purchase records. This includes the day you buy your fingerlings or juveniles, the quantity you buy, and the cost. You should also record the quantity of feed you buy, the days you buy them and the frequency with which you buy them. Also record the frequency with which you feed the catfish.

Financial records. You should record the costs of purchases you make as well as the value of sales you make. Record the money input to the business and the sources.

Customer Records. It is important that you know the people that buy from you and why they buy from you.


Join Communities

I recommend this step as a block that builds your business. Like I already mentioned above, create or join a group of local or online fish farmers around you. Know other farmers and farms around you, let them know you too. To do that as a new person in the business, you have to cheer up with them for them to enlighten you.

These two Communities will help your business

  1. Naija Fishing Arena  (Facebook)
  2. Nigeria Fish Farmers Forum (Naijafishing.com)

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You should adhere to the above ideas, implement them and commit yourself to the enterprise of growing, marketing and selling your catfish. These are the secrets behind running a viable fish farm. When you master how to grow 1000 pieces of catfish to table size you will be better prepared to scale up the farm to grow 10, 000 or even 20, 000 catfish. That is when the real business begins.

Another step up the value chain of catfish farming in Nigeria is having the capability to process and preserve your catfish. This will be the subject of another article I will share with the public soon.
I see farming as business too and I encourage people who want to engage in farming to see farming in the same way.

Food will always sell because people will always eat.

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