Catfish Farming in Nigeria – Startup Cost, Pond, Feeding, Business Plan

Are you interested in small scale fish farming in Nigeria? What determines the profitability of Catfish farming in Nigeria? How much does it cost to start a Mackerel, Tilapia or Catfish farm?

These and many other questions have been answered in this post. Find out!

In recent times, the subject of fish farming in Nigeria has drawn a lot of attention. This interest arises mainly from its lucrative nature. Fish farmers rear a variety of species. Common species include Tilapia, Catfish and Mackerel.

However the most popular of all the species are catfish. These variety are in greater demand than the rest.

We will discuss extensively on this subject with the aim of providing you with knowledge on what it takes to participate in the fish farming industry. With basic information made available to you, you should be able to know what is required, what to expect as well as what to avoid.

Find Out: Is Fish Farming Really Profitable?


  • Fish Farming as a Business

While people want to embark on commercial fish farming, they do so wrongly by approaching it as a hobby rather than a business. They do not take the time to fully understand the process of rearing these livestock. Even if they know how to do so, the business aspect of things is left out or ignored.

If you want to start commercial fish farming, you should ensure that necessary requirements are met. This includes having a definite plan in place as well as detailed record keeping.

  • Your Business Plan

This is the heart or blueprint of your fish farming business. To avoid operating a trial and error system of business which will lead to stagnation and failure, your plan has a definite course of action to take at every point. This is also a requirement when seeking for funding from investors. They request this document to check the viability of your business idea.

SEE: Sample Fish Farming Business Plan

The investor(s) is/are interested in knowing how their investments will be recouped with interest.

One of the most important things to consider is never to rush your fish farming business plan. Getting the required funding as well as running a successful fishery is hinged on this plan. Every aspect of the plan such as your budget, a realistic financial projection, marketing plans, the executive summary and funding details among others should be included.

When writing your plan, seek the services of business experts or consultants. There are several of such in Nigeria.

Their expertise enables you put up a detailed and compelling plan

No matter how good a business plan is, it will make no difference as long as it is not fully implemented. Full implementation is highly recommended for only then will the desired results be achieved.

  • Detailed Record Keeping

In order to keep track of all important activities within your fish farming business, detailed record keeping is recommended. This includes feed consumption, number of fingerlings you started with, mortality, as well as sales recorded when disposing after reaching maturity or table size. These and several others enables you to easily notice anomalies that may arise.

  • Why you Should Consider Fish Farming

If you are contemplating if this is the right business for you, or how profitable it is, consider: first, it is advisable to go into an area of business you love or have passion for. Secondly, the huge market in Nigeria makes fish farming profitable. There are several reasons that makes fish farming in Nigeria worth your efforts. The fast growth of ensures quicker turnover for your investments.

There are multiple options to choose from when setting up a fish farm. You can either choose to rear/culture them in seasonal ponds or build an artificial pond yourself. There are several varieties of such as fixed or mobile ponds.

Certain varieties of fish such as catfish have a high resistance to disease. Finally there is high domestic and international demand for fish.

As fish populations in the Oceans Seas and Rivers drop, more emphasis is placed on artificial rearing. Demand is so high that outstripping it seems unlikely for a long time to come. This presents you with enormous opportunities as you can hardly meet local demand.

Basic Requirements for Setting up a Fish Farm

Apart from the above mentioned requirements, you need to put other things in place as well. These include the following;

  • Choosing a Specie

This looks obvious but should not be overlooked. The most common variety consumed by Nigerians include catfish, Mackerel and tilapia. You need to decide whether to include all or choose a specific variety. While making this decision, you should also consider that demand is an important part of the decision making process.

You are running a business, and in business, demand is crucial to profitability. Catfish is in high demand and mostly preferred by most farmers.

  • Pond Construction

Large-scale fish farming requires the provision or building of a sizable pond. This involves digging and construction to the required size. For small farmers, this can be scaled down. Tanks are other options available to small farmers too.

See: Types of Fish Pond

Sluice Gate is a provision for releasing used water. When constructing your pond, appropriate meshing should be applied to prevent fish from escaping when water is released.

Fencing is an important requirement to have around your fish farm. This prevents your investments from being exposed to theft. In addition, you can have a security watch to keep an eye on happenings around your farm.

When siting your fish farm, you should consider the topography of the area as well as finding out if the area is flood-prone. If it is, you can either avoid the area altogether or construct your fish pond to withstand flooding. Part of the remedies will be to create a higher embankment to avoid a run-off of water which is likely to wash away your fish.

It is necessary to consider a location before settling for it. You should avoid an area having a chemical industry.

Chances are that toxic wastes harmful to fish may have been dumped around. This creates a health risk for your fish and for you as well as your customers, if at all you are able to harvest at the end.

In Nigeria, places such as the Niger-Delta are notorious for oil spills. Such places will not support fish farming at all.

  • Lime Application

This is the process through which acidic fish ponds are treated. Fishes thrive best in alkaline ponds. To obtain this optimal state, a soil test is required before building your fish pond. If the soil is found to be acidic, lime treatment is the best remedy to apply. It neutralizes the acid content, bringing it to the required state.

This method is mainly for commercial farmers who will need to dig up the ground and build a pond(s).

  • Availability of Water

Fish farming is heavily dependent on water. There has to be an available water source such as a borehole or well.

This ensures that water is changed when needed. When setting up a fish farm, try to avoid places where the water supply is problematic. This can cause a disruption to the smooth running of your fish farming.

  • Feeding

This is a factor which makes fish farming capital intensive. Attaining the ideal table size requires that feeding be well taken care of. There are different brands of fish feed in the market. You can choose which best suits your needs. It is important to consider feed wastage too. Innovative ways of reducing wastage have been formulated. This has given rise to floating feed.

GUIDE: Fish Feed Formulation Methods

You need to consider which option works best for your needs. Before commencing, ensure that there is sufficient money for feeding. This is important.

  • Soil Fertilization

Fish farming in Nigeria also requires checking the level of soil fertility. This is necessary because a well fertilized soil provides the best environment or condition(s) for fish to thrive. To fertilize the soil, a combination of both organic and inorganic fertilizers are used. This is after liming treatment has been applied (for acidic soils).

When applying fertilizers, this is done periodically. For organic fertilizers like manure, soil fertilization can be done monthly. Ideally, between 800 to 1,000 kg should be applied per hectare. Organic and inorganic fertilizer application should be alternated.

  • Rearing your Fish

In order to operate an efficient fish farm, you need nursery ponds meant for the fry/fingerlings. There should also be the main pond where they would be transferred to complete their growth. Between 60 to 90 fry should be placed in a 1 square metre nursery. These should be kept in the nursery for up to a month. While in the nursery, constant monitoring is necessary. The nursery should also be frequently cleaned and the water changed.

MORE: Common Fish Diseases, Symptoms and Treatments

Mortality especially for catfish is highest when at the fry or fingerling stage. To minimise losses, you should give full attention to their needs.

  • Harvesting and Disposing your fish Products

Whichever specie of fish you farm, the channels of disposal are pretty much the same. Your customers are varied.

Your most immediate channels of distribution will be the local markets within your neighbourhood. You can also distribute through established national channels across Nigeria as well as the international markets. These can also be sold live as well.

DOWNLOAD: Fish Farming Production Manuals for Beginners

Fish farming in Nigeria entails a lot of factors which need to be put in place for success to be guaranteed.

The most basic requirements have been provided here. If you love fish farming, following the right procedures will result in the attainment of desired results. There is so much potential for growth.

A growing number of Nigerian farmers are taking the bull by the horn and reaping handsome rewards. Why can’t you?