Are you interested in writing a fish farming business plan? Here is a sample guide to developing one.
The fish farming business is a very profitable one, yet, it is not very capital-intensive. Fish farming is a subset of the agriculture industry.
This business chiefly focuses on the raising of various species of fish, as well as other kinds of seafood.
Here is a comprehensive business plan for fish farming.
In this article, you will get to realize the various steps you must consider before you can start a catfish farm.
Fish Farming Business Plan Template
- Common Fishery Terminologies
- Fish Farming is NOT Profitable, except…
- Stop Think of Fishery, Start Thinking of.
- Start from the Market
- Cost Analyses
- Fish Feeds & How to Feed Your Fishes
- How to Construct Your Fish Pond
- Water and Your Fish
- Best Fishes to Start Your Fishery
- Sorting & Grading
- Fishery & Accountability
- Branding Your Fish Business
Most people who are into fishery out there are mere fish farmers. You will not be that. You will be a fishery entrepreneur after reading this article.
Let me quickly remind you that this course is solely about catfish.
Though we have thousands of fishes, catfish is the most acceptable in many markets.
If you want to confirm that, simply move around your city’s restaurants and pepper soup joints. 90% of the fishes you’ll see are catfishes.
Plus, catfish have a high adaptation level to various water environments. That’s the reason why we’ll “talk” mainly about catfish in this guide.
Now, let’s get started…
Fish Farming Commonly Used Terminologies
In the fishery industry, you must have a basic understanding of certain basic terminologies to enable you to communicate easily with other people in the industry and to be able to understand some of the things you’ll be reading inside this guide.
The following are the basic fish farming terminologies you should familiarize yourself with.
(If you have been in the fish farming business before now or you have read some things about fishery before, many of these terms will not be new to you)
- Fishery; is the activities leading to and resulting in the harvesting of fish
- Fingerling; is a tiny, little hatchling
- Juvenile; is what we call a young (a little bigger than fingerlings) fish
- Hatchery; is the process of cultivating and breeding a large number of juveniles in an enclosed environment
- Fish Pond; is like the home we construct for our fishes
- Fish feed; is the special feed (food) prepared for
- Aquaculture; is the farming of freshwater and saltwater organism which fish is one of
- Stock; is a group of fish of the same
- A brood; is the collective offspring of a species produced in a particular period
- Commercial Fishery; is the term used to describe the whole process of catching and marketing fish
Guide: Crawfish Farming Manual
Above and some others are the basic fish farming terminologies you will be coming across in this article and your dealings with different suppliers, customers, and colleagues in the fishery business.
After taking note of these terms, I will beg your pardon to allow me to start this guide from the “business angle”.
Since we’re in for business and business alone, it’s good to start from business and not from fish farming.
Don’t you understand what I mean?
Who cares about a product or service? I don’t. Do you?
Do you care about fish or rearing them? If at all I do, it is to eat them. Rearing, nursing, and having sleepless nights because of fishes?
Not me and I am sure you too really don’t care as much about the fishes. So why are you reading this course?
Business. Business. Business and money are the reasons.
If you and I understand this simple logic, then we’ll, first of all, consider the business aspect of fish farming.
Fishery Business is NOT Profitable, except…
At a time you might be planning to start your own business and you don’t know what business to start.
If you’re like most people, you might go straight to Mr. big G (I mean Google).
You might search for something like, “profitable business ideas” or “Lucrative business opportunities”
When you do so, the next thing you’ll notice is that Mr. G takes you to some blogs (website) that have written about business ideas before.
I can bet that you’ll find fish farming as one of those “profitable business ideas”.
You will not just find fish farming there, the author might write there that fish farming is one of the most profitable businesses in the world, and, you know, as a smart liar, he/she will show you some unrealistic statistics and possible earnings.
Now you have got a worthy business idea to work on. What is the next thing?
You might immediately go back to brother Google, now with different keywords, “How to Start Fish Farming” or “Fish Farming Business Plan”
Google would bring you many results, out of which you’re likely to click the first few ones.
What did you see next?
Smart liars emphatically claiming that fishery business is VERY lucrative.
But why did I call them liars? Is fish farming profitable? Well, to say fish farming is profitable is not a lie. It’s only a half-truth.
If you’re able to meet me today and ask, “Is fishery business (or any other business) profitable”? My answer will be, Yes and No.
Yes because it could be and No because it may not be, depending on what you know and your readiness to do all it takes.
Now let me come down a little and tell you the truth about the business world.
No business (in itself) is profitable. You read me right.
No business, in itself is (naturally) profitable. Businesses only become profitable when the owners run or do them the way it should be done.
Maybe you need me to explain even a little further.
You see, there are hundreds of people (if not thousands) who have started fish farming businesses and failed.
If 100 people start fishery business today, in the next three years, 70 of them might have been out of business, 20 of them struggling, 5 of them making some money while only 5 of them are having a truly profitable business.
While the above figures are not backed by standard research, you can go out yourself and see how fishery millionaires are everywhere, right?
You know the answer.
But why am I scaring you away from fishery business? Did I just hear you saying “scaring”?
No. Not at all
I believe in people’s ability to succeed. However, I hate deception and lies.
If truly fish farming business is NATURALLY profitable, you should have seen hundreds of millionaires who made it through fishery but it’s not so.
Your fishery business can only be profitable if only you are prepared and ready to do all you should to make it profitable
I think you understand me, do you?
Stop Think of Fishery, Start Thinking of Business
One major error people make when they are running their businesses is that they see themselves as ER of that business.
Someone who is driving for a living sees himself as a drivER. Someone who is into fashion designing sees herself as a fashion designER and someone who is having a fish farm see him/herself as a fish farmER.
I am sure you got my point.
People see themselves as doers of the business they are into, instead of seeing themselves as a business person, which is the bigger picture.
Seeing yourself as a fish farmer will limit your thinking, your vision, your operations, and your progress.
Your mindset will show in your decisions, actions, and approaches and will determine your growth or backwardness in the fish farming business.
Many things will differentiate someone who sees himself as a mere fish farmer and another person who sees herself as an entrepreneur, having a fish farm but let me show you a few of them.
A person who sees herself as just a fish farmer would think of starting and just start a fish farm while a person who sees herself as a business person, dealing in aquaculture will pause, look around and invest his time in marketing research, even before he buys a juvenile (small fish).
That man who sees himself as a mere fish farmer would not even think of competition not to talk of learning business tactics to win them.
To him, fish sells in the market and people must buy it, no matter what. He’s ignorant!
That woman who sees herself as a business person will take time to consider competition and how she could win them (even before she starts anything about her intending fish farming business).
People who see themselves as just fish farmers don’t consider branding their fishery business (for what? They ignorantly think)
People who know themselves to be business people consider being different from the crowded market, being unique and branding.
So many other things differentiate people who are business-minded from mere business doers and I will be sharing more with you as we journey together, but for now, register it in your brain (or mind or palm, lol), that you’re NOT going to be “just a fish farmer”, but a businessman/woman who is into the fishery business.
If this is well understood, you’ve already won half of the battle.
You will have a bigger vision and a brighter success. You will seek to learn and understand the nature of the fish business and what it takes to make it successful. You will not just get a plot of land and start thinking of raising fishes.
Start From the Market
As an experienced businessman, I have this deep business secret to reveal to you; every successful business starts from the market.
Yes, from the market because the market is the most important factor in your fishery business.
What you know about the market, how you position your business in the market and the tactics you’re equipped with to compete in the market is the determinant of your success (or failure) as a business owner.
Because most people know virtually nothing about business because they were not prepared to be business owners. After all, our use-less school system did not teach practical entrepreneurship, they usually think about the products to sell, the service to render.
They simply assume that selling isn’t that tough.
“If I can just get an acre of swampy land and start a fish farm, I will make millions”
Wait. Pause. Hold on.
Think about the following quotation by Thomas J. Barrett;
“Any fool can make soap. It takes a clever man to sell it”
Think about that and tell me what it means. What does it mean?
It means that any Joe can make or produce anything, but only very smart people know how to sell and sell profitably.
To sell your fishery product profitably, you have to start with the market place.
Every experienced business owner knows this truth but they won’t tell you.
“The products or services you are producing do not matter as to how you plan to sell them.”
The only exception to this rule is if you’re planning to remain one of those poor farmers who only have a pond of 500 fishes.
If that is your plan, I don’t care about being your friend!
You think the technicalities of rearing fishes are hard and that’s why you open this article?
If you have D in your high (secondary) school Economics or Biology, you can learn how to rear fishes easily and perfectly.
If you’re a woman or a man who has been with a nursing mother before, you could raise fishes easily and perfectly.
There is no rocket science there, only common sense and attention to some details.
But you see, there is another part that is tougher and more challenging; the selling part.
I cannot emphasize this enough!
All you need to rear a fish from juvenile to a table size fish is a brain around average, but to sell thousands of them profitably, to enlarge your farm and become a mighty fish farmer, come on, you have to be smart.
If you’re a smart business person (starting a fish farming business), you’re going to start in the market.
Without this survey, the chance for success is very lean.
Now that you want to start a profitable fishery business, what should you do?
Survey your market first. Market research first!
Let me simplify it for you.
As a business person, going into fish farming, there are as well three crucial groups of people you have to know and study (if truly you want to make good money from your business).
- The first kinds of people are the consumers (those you will sell your fishes to).
- The second groups are the competitors (other fish farmers who are selling what you want to sell).
- And the third group is your suppliers and specialists (those you will need for pond construction and those you’ll be buying feeds, etc form, and the fishery consultants and probably an experienced fish farmer in your vicinity).
Any of the above groups of people can determine your success or failure, if you don’t carry out your market research properly, right from the onset.
Let me hint you how to go about this.
First, about the king (that’s another name for people who will buy your fishes)
You have to move out and get your hands dirty’.
Who are those buying catfish now and who are the middlemen (the wholesalers or retailers) who are supplying them now?
Where exactly is your market or where are your markets?
I mean where and where and where do you intend to be selling your fish products?
To whom and whom will you sell your fishes? Do you have some ideas?
Don’t assume it’s going to work out as you’re seeing it now. Don’t just assume the customers are there waiting for your fishes.
That could be foolish.
In business, we don’t work or project base on assumption. We work with facts.
It is risk-taking to go into business (and that’s good by us the entrepreneurs) but it’s foolhardy to assume in business.
Don’t do that!
You need some facts so you have to go out. Speak to wholesales fish buyers.
If you have the idea of selling your fishes to some hotels, restaurants, or any other company or organization, be well dressed (very important) walk into people and talk with them.
Some of them will not respond to you kindly while some of them will be useful for you for other things, not what you primarily approach them for.
Yes, you could approach someone to ask her about the possibility of selling your fishes to her and she’ll tell you, “I’m sorry, I am getting my fishes from my husband’s farm. He has been in the fishery business for 7 years”
What should you say next?
If I were you, I will tell her, “That’s okay. I appreciate you very much. It’s interesting to know that your husband has been in the fishery business for many years. I will love to meet him”
Though you wanted to see the possibility of selling your eggs to her when the time comes, you have gotten something better from her, an experienced fish farmer who could be your friend, consultant, and a great help soon.
As you’re trying to meet the possible buyers of your fishes, asking them questions from how much they’re likely and willing to pay for your fishes to how exactly they will like to get it delivered, one major aspect to concentrate your findings on is about what and what they don’t like about farmers who are supplying them fishes now.
Very important. Most important!
Use every indirect question you can come up with, to get your potential
customers to tell you what and what they don’t like about those who they are buying from now (which are your potential competitors).
There are always things people don’t like about others they are doing business with and it’s your primary and ultimate job as a business owner to know what your potential customers don’t like about your potential competitors.
Why is this important?
Because you’ll like to build strengths in the areas of your competitors’ weaknesses
There is no better way to succeed in business (including fishery business) than to build strengths in the areas of your competitors’ weaknesses.
One interesting thing you may experience is that, if you speak with enough people on your target market and “interview” them wisely about what and what they don’t like about people who are supplying them now, you may later discover that their responses are somewhat similar.
If this happens, you have discovered how to win a meaningful market share.
You may think that market share is not important now because you’re just starting a small farm but you see, you must be able to “see” tomorrow and plan for it.
One of the major things you’ll need to get capital for your fishery business is your ability to convince people (with facts and figures) about the likely profitability of your business which is a result of your understanding of your market.
For instance, if many fish retailers you speak with complain that their suppliers lack courtesy and good customer relationship skills, you have discovered how best to serve your market to win their affection.
As you go out for the marketing research of your intending fishery business, make sure you’re getting their shops’ or offices’ addresses and their phone numbers.
Write them down on a sheet and not on your phone, you know we lose our phones when we least expect (I just lost my Smartphone two days ago and it’s painful that I have lost some valuable documents and contacts on it).
One more thing;
One other important thing to take note of is the size of fish your potential market loves and is willing to pay for.
This is very important, even before you start your fish farm because each fish market has its favorite size of fish.
In some areas, they love fishes that weigh 1kg or less while in some markets they may love fishes that weigh 2 or more kg.
If the market you’re operating in loves and can afford only 1kg-or-less fishes and you’re keeping your fishes till they are 2.5kg that will lead to business disaster because your target market audience will not be able to afford the fish you have to sell.
Now that you have identified the market (or markets) you wish to serve and compete in and you have familiarized yourself with your likely customers and get some good facts, you’re moving closer to the success you desire.
The next thing is to invest some thoughts into your competitors (the second group of people you must know).
Who and who are your potential competitors?
How are they doing their business? How are they relating to their immediate consumers (wholesalers or retailers)? Are there some weaknesses you have known about their operations, base on your earlier research?
If yes, how can you build strengths in their areas of weaknesses?
The idea is to invest some thoughts into who and who you’re going to be competing with and how you can do some things better than they are doing them (believe me, there is always a space for creativity and innovation).
After you have identified the market (that is places and people) you wish to serve with your fishes and you have related with your potential customers, after you have made some findings on your potential competitors and you’ve gotten some facts about them and how you can introduce some creativity to be different than them, the next group of people to invest some thoughts and energy on are your suppliers and experienced players around you.
They are very important to your success.
By your suppliers I mean those you’ll be buying your fishery business needs from. Who are those selling fish feeds?
Who is the mature and experienced fish farmer you could make your friends and mentors?
Reach out to these people now. Speak to them.
Ask them many questions, not only about the feeds or fishery equipment they are selling but about any other fishery-related issues about your city, town, or area.
Some of these people might have been in the fishery business before. They might have succeeded or failed. In either way, they are experienced and have a lot of things to share with you and could be of further guidance, if you relate with them very well.
In any business (fish farming), going alone is not smart.
Maybe you don’t know why this is very important.
The reason why you need experienced people around you is that in business (as it is in life), issues, challenges, and headaches are inevitable and they show up when you least expect them.
The best, easiest, and cheapest way to build a wall of good and experienced people around you is through good human relationship skills.
Your goal is to have (as friends or partner) at least two people who have at least 3 years’ experience in the fish farming business near you.
At least one of these people should be physically close to you while others may be your “phone mentors”
Then one or two fish feeds and fishery equipment sellers.
Then one or two friends who are into business, but not in the fishery industry (They too will be useful for you because no serious business person has all of his friends being employees).
You won’t get all these people around you by magic tomorrow but you have to make practical effort to make friends and build the wall of experts around yourself.
Get out to fish farms around, connect, talk with people, ask them questions, and relate with them. Help them if they need your help in any way you can render.
In doing this, make sure you appear harmless.
Don’t allow them to see you as their competitor or they will see you as a threat. Let them see you as a friend who needs help.
I can speak till tomorrow about the importance of having people and experts in your industry around you, as your friends, partners, and mentors because I have experienced it first hand, how valuable such people could be.
They could give you a piece of advice that will save you thousands of dollars. They could save your entire business from a crash with their experience and expertise.
If you do your primary assignment very well, most of them will be willing to be by your side and offer you free (but valuable) advice about certain things that are peculiar to your vicinity.
Some of them, of course, may wish to get some cash from you. If you have observed that they are truly valuable, and you can afford their service, don’t hesitate to pay them.
If you have done all I taught above, you must have gotten some good people around you plus some valuable facts and figures, some reliably expected profitability and the best way to go about your business.
If that is properly done, 50% of the job is done. Now, let’s go into the next step…
After you have done all the above, the next thing you will have to do is what we know as cost analyses.
Here is it.
You want to know how much you’ll need to raise certain numbers of your fishes from juvenile to table size (market size).
It’s a common-sense yet, most people avoid it and later regret.
One of the reasons why you have to go to the market and meet with different players as advocated in the previous chapters is for you to get some facts about the likely cost of your intending fishery business.
It’s foolish to start with 2000 juveniles if all your resources could handle is 500.
You need an estimate so you’re going to take your pen and paper.
- Do you intend to start your fish farm at your backyard or on a plot/acre of land?
- When you went out to ask about the cost of fish pond tank, concrete pond, or constructing an earthen pond, how much can you get them done in your vicinity?
- (You will soon see how to get or construct your fish ponds)
- Is there a good source of water around or you’ll have to dig a well or borehole water?
- Do you need labor and how many of them and what is the labor cost like in your locality?
After analyzing all these, then you’ll move to the main expense; the feeds.
Fish Feeds & How to Feed Your Fishes
Fish feeds and feeding (luckily) is simpler and easier than that of chicken (in the poultry farming)
To start with, The Feed;
Before you get to the stage of feeding your children (sorry, fishes. Lol), you must have found out (as advocated in the earlier chapter and know where they are selling fish feeds in your environment and which feed is the best.
I cannot tell you names of feeds or the best feeds for the obvious reason; there are different fish feeds in different parts of the world.
It’s your primary duty to do little findings.
After knowing the feed you want to go for, you will see that they are selling them in kilograms (like 25Kg) and they call them “mm”. We have 1mil (mm), 2mil, 3mil, 4mil, 5mil, and 6mil.
The difference between the mils is the size.
The idea is that as your fishes grow, they will need bigger meals. At the juvenile stage, when you just take them in, you’ll be feeding them with 1mil. As they grow you will change to 2, 3, 4, and later 5 and 6mil.
Best Way to Feed Your Fishes
Let’s assume that you’re having 1000 fishes in your pond, if you feed them just anyhow, you may end up having many lions and some goats living together.
This may happen because when some of your fishes are eating well and others are not, those eating well will become lions while those not getting the best will become goats and as you know, lions eat goats.
Yes, fishes eat each other.
What we want to do is to see that all of our fishes are getting the best out of the feeds we are giving them, so if at all we’ll have goats and lions (which is inevitable), it will be manageable.
To achieve this, if you have a medium-size or big pond, go and stay in the exact middle of your earthen or concrete pond.
Take some Coppens (fish feed) in your hand and then throw them to the left. Take a few more and throw them to the right. By doing so, your fishes will divide themselves into two (left and right).
Then start feeding.
Use a small size bowl to spread the Coppens (fish feed) to the pond, left and right. Don’t concentrate it at a place; instead spread it to make all the fishes eat.
How do you know the fishes are well-fed?
Ideally, catfish eat between 2-10% of their body weight per day. While this may be a little hard to calculate, plus the fact that not all the fishes will be of the same size, it may be good for you to feed your fishes twice a day and look out for when they will struggle less and swim deep into the pond.
When fishes struggle less with the feeds and swim down into the pond, you can be sure they are well fed.
Also beware of feeding them too much as this leads to the fishes not converting the right quantity to their body weight, so you waste some feed and poor quality of water.
You know as you feed your fishes, the leftover reduces the quality of the water so the more the leftover in the pond, the earlier your water loses its quality.
Another thing to take note of is that it’s always good to feed your fishes at the same time each day. By this I mean if you feed your fishes by 7 am and 3 pm today, you shouldn’t feed them at 9 am and 5 pm tomorrow.
Feed them at the same time each day!
Supplementary Fish Feeds
As said earlier, it’s a lot easier to feed fishes with artificial feeds than poultry chickens.
Fishes will eat anything meat.
Dead Animals; You find any dead animals? Put it in a sack and drop it down into your pond, placing a stone at the mount of the sack to make it sink.
You’ll only go back there after some days to meet skeletons.
This may be a little hard to get if you’re in the city but the following is not. Maggot; Fishes eat maggot from any decaying animals.
You could have a deal with some butchers (cows and other animals’ killers and sellers); ask them to slaughter their animals into a container for you.
What you need is blood.
Sprinkle salt on the animals’ blood, keep it in a far distance at your farm or backyard because of the odor, then cover such a container and check it after 4 or 5 days.
What you’ll see is a bowl full of maggots.
It’s time to feed your fishes!
There are other locally devised supplementary fish feeds.
Some people mix normal fish feed with the boiled Gari’s shaft, dry them and give them to the grown-up fishes. Note. This is only for the grown-up fishes who are about to be sold.
If you don’t know what I called Gari shaft, then there is a cultural problem somewhere here.
Many of these locally devised fish feeds are peculiar to each locality so there may be some that are unique in your vicinity.
Make friends with fish farmers around you and ask them questions.
And please, don’t feed your juveniles (little fishes) with any locally devised feed. We advise that you should feed your fishes with normal fish feeds for the first three months if at all you will start using the supplementary feeds listed above.
This is because young fishes may not get all their needed nutrients from the supplementary feeds.
How long does it take to feed fishes to 1kg?
As I will further explain inside this article, fishes don’t grow the same rate, and fish entrepreneurs don’t sell their fishes at the same size.
While some market demand fishes above 1kg, some other markets can only pay for fishes of 500grams.
However, you could expect that 40% or more of your catfishes should be 1kg after 4 months while 80-90 of them could be 1kg and above in 6 months
Your feeds and water quality and the kind of pond you’re using (plus a few other things) are the factors that determine how fast your fishes will grow.
How to Construct Your Fish Pond
One of the first things to consider while thinking about fish farming business is the kind of pond you want to go for.
What will influence your decision in this area is the size of your intending fish farm and your location.
We have, basically three types of fish ponds.
First is Tank Fish Pond commonly used at the backyard for small scale fish farming.
Note; There are three things I want to call your attention to in the above picture.
First is the fish tank. Second is the water storage system (at the back) and third is the white pipe that will be supplying fresh water for the fishes.
Those three things are very essential to the tank fish pond.
How do you get a tank or tarpaulin fish pond?
I don’t know where you live but if it’s in any city or town in this planet (if you’re not living in the Mass or Jupiter, lol), you could simply move out and ask people in your major market you see selling tanks or related materials, about where you could find fish tanks.
There are so many kinds and designs but you will love one of them.
The second type of pond is Concrete Pond.
Now take notice of these three essential things;
First, the water storage system that is built on top of the concrete pond (that the woods hold)
Second, the water that is flowing to the pond through a pipe at the left edge of the pond and the water outlet that is near to you (that round thing that shows on top of the water). That’s where the fish farmer will release the water whenever it’s not too good again.
The concrete pond will be built with blocks and cement. It could be 6ftx10ft or whatever size you want it, base on the number of fishes you’re planning to raise in the pond.
It could be 4 or 6ft high.
How do you get a concrete fish pond?
You’ll need the service of a good bricklayer.
As usual in every pond, you will see the water storage system. There are water inlets (pipes that bring water from that storage to the pond which will be set by a plumber)
Then, you will see the water outlets that are behind the pond and direct water to the drainage.
Your drainage has to be directed properly so as for it to be able to lead water away as appropriate.
Those are the essentials.
Another thing to note is that some people build roofs on their concrete ponds. This is to prevent the negative effect of the sun on the water.
You can as well plant banana all round the pound so as your fish pond will have some shield.
The third type of pond we have is the Earthen Pond.
To construct an earthen pond, we have to dig the ground to 4 or 6 ft and make the length and breadth 10ftx6ft, 50×50 or any other size, based on the quantity of fish we are planning to raise in the pond
Inside the pond as it is dug to a level.
After digging, water is pumped inside the ponds. We then fill sacks with sand and placed around the pond, to prevent the fishes from making holes around the pond, then destroying it.
After this, you will need a net to cover the face of the pond. The reason for this is because you want to prevent the fishes from predators, other birds, and animals that eat fishes.
Some people also use the net to round the pond’s sides.
Cautions about Fish Ponds
When constructing (or buying in the case of tank and tarpaulin) your fish pond, following precautions should be taken note of;
- If you’re going for the concrete pond, the pond has to be constructed with great care so has to prevent future leakage or breaking
- If you’re going for the earthen pond, you must make sure that your pond’s location is very safe from floods. Very essential! Some farmers have gotten to their farms in the past only to see that the heavy rain of the previous night has taken away their fishes with
- If you’re using tarpaulin pond, your little child could experiment with its leather and use a razor blade to tear it apart. Prevent that by all means!
Which of these fish ponds is the best?
If you have the resources required, the Earthen Pond is the best. Why?
Thank you for asking.
The first reason is that the earthen pond is a natural fish environment. It’s just like their home.
A common adage says, “No place like home”. That’s the first reason why fishes could grow better in the earthen pond.
The second reason is that the only feeds your fishes eat in both tank and concrete ponds are the ones you give them.
In the earthen pond, however, many organisms and other aquatic creatures usually get in and the fishes feed on them.
The other reason why the earthen pond is the best is that the quality of water there is the best and can last longer.
Water in the tank could easily get too hot for the fishes (if put under the sun) and water in the concrete could sometimes be too cold, but water in the earthen pond is more stable.
Your fishes (just like humans) will defecate and pollute the water. When this happens in tank or concrete pond, their feces, etc. get stocked with the tank or concrete. If the same happens with the earthen pond, the feces go down to the soil and have less effect on the water quality.
It’s not unusual to see a fish farmer getting very busy washing their tanks or concretes. You cannot see such with the earthen ponds.
Now, do I mean to say that you shouldn’t use tank or concrete for your pond? No.
There are some situations where you will have no choice but to use a tank or concrete.
One such situation is when the cash you want to start with can only take care of the tank or because you just want to start with a little pond at your backyard.
Is there any crime in starting small?
And maybe I forgot to tell you. It’s more expensive to construct a concrete pond than the earthen pond.
In constructing a concrete pond, you will need many blocks, cement, and other building materials.
In an earthen pond, however, all you need is to employ some people who will help you to dig the ground and fix the sacks, then a plumber to run the inflow and outflow of water (more on that soon).
But why do we have farmers (even big ones) using concrete ponds?
The first reason may because of the environment a farmer found him/herself. What I mean by the environment is this.
You cannot construct an earthen pond in a sandy area (areas where the earth is filled with much sound/stones). The reason is that, if constructed, the environment will not be like “home” for the fishes.
If you look at the nature of fish and their inhabitant (where they live), you will see that they love swampy areas.
To give them their “home”, that’s the reason why we will try and look for a swampy environment to construct our earthen pond.
Not only swampy. We can as well use a loamy soil, though the swampy area is the best.
So if a fish farmer, for instance, finds herself in a city where the soil is sandy (usually north), he will have no options than to go for a concrete pond.
With proper management, he/she can still get the best out of his pond.
I have told you about the types of fish ponds we have and situations/conditions that can make a fish farmer go for any one of them.
Now allow me to tell you how you can go about getting any of your preferred ponds.
First, you must have concluded on the size of your intending fish farm and how many juveniles you’re planning to buy before you decide the size of the pond (either concrete, earthen, or tank).
A 10ftx6ft pond should be okay for 500 fishes from juvenile to table size fish while you may be thinking of 20ftx15ft if you’re planning for like one thousand. 50ftx50ft may be needed if you’re planning to start with about 3000 juveniles.
Beware of Overcrowding!
In today’s world, you could see 7-10 people living in the same room. That’s overcrowding.
While two people can live in a whole mansion and it will have no negative effect on them, having 7 people living in a room is not ideal as it could affect their health.
The same thing happens with the fishes. You’ll not harm your fishes with too big a pond but you can harm them by stocking them in a pond that is too little for them.
The reason is, first, the lifestyle of fishes is “the survival of the fittest”. They fight for food and even to kill each other (more on this soon).
If they are overcrowded, some stronger “heroes” amidst them will be eating enough while others will be eating little, so it leads to some becoming very big while others are small.
As time goes on (if that trend continues) the bigger ones will have what it takes to eat the weaker and smaller ones. This is call cannibalism.
Yes, fishes feed on each other!
Another reason why you must not overcrowd fishes in a pond is that the more they are, the earlier they destroy the quality of water. Quality water makes a great home for the fishes.
So, you will not want to overcrowd your pond by putting too much in a little sized pond (i.e. putting 1,000 fishes into a 6ftx10ft concrete pond. While they will live fine as juveniles, as they grow up, the pond starts becoming more and more uncomfortable for them.)
Healthy Water & Your Fish Business
What is the most essential thing for human life? Not food, not even water. It’s oxygen.
You don’t eat every hour, nor do you drink water every minute, but you breathe in oxygen a couples of times in a minute.
So are the fishes. They derive their oxygen from water. Not only oxygen but life.
To know how important water is to a fish, simply take it to a dried land.
If anybody asks you, what is the most important aspect of the fish farming business, the answer is… quality of water.
Best Sources of Water for Your Fishes
Any natural water. By this, I mean any untreated water.
While we humans need water to be treated to kill some hidden germs, one man’s food is another man’s poison. What we call germs maybe friends to the fishes while the chemicals we are using to treat our water may be harmful to the fishes.
That’s while you won’t want to use a government-supplied source of water or any other treated water for your pond.
Untreated well or borehole water is okay.
In the earthen and concrete pond, you will need the service of a plumber to channel water. He will channel water into and outside the pond because water should be able to move in and out of your pond.
Water in the earthen pond (as said earlier) can endure more than water in the concrete or tank.
In managing your fish pond’s water, you could adopt what is known as constant flow through or recirculatory system.
In a constant flow-through system, water moves from the water inlets (as shown in the earlier pictures) and the flow out CONSTANTLY.
This is best if you have a good and strong source of water.
Then, the recirculatory system. Here you let water in and after some days let the water out. Three days is a good period to change your pond’s water or when you perceive that the water quality is getting low.
How do you perceive that your pond water‘s quality is getting low?
If the pond smells bad or you see some fishes raising their heads at the edges of the pond, trying to breathe, then the water is getting worse.
If the pond is smelling too badly, be sure the water quality is bad too and the reason why the fishes are trying to catch some oxygen outside the pond is that the oxygen level of the pond is low, meaning the water is bad
Best Juvenile to Start Your Fish Business
Starting your fish farming business, you have to first decide the species of fish you intend to raise.
If you’re in Africa, catfish is your best choice (I have said this before). The reason is that catfish is far more preferred than any other fish in our market and it has good environmental adaptability.
However, even in the catfish family, there are few other species out of which Clarias gariepinus, Heterobranchus bidorsalis, Clarias X are the best known around us here.
How do you get a good breed of catfish?
Since I don’t know where you live I will advise you to investigate any fish farm in your vicinity and enquire where you could get good juveniles.
Get juveniles and not fingernails because it is more delicate to handle fingernails (you know, juveniles are older and stronger)
Sorting and Grading
When you just take in your juveniles, they all may have the same or similar sizes but it won’t last that way.
After their three, four weeks, you might have been noticing some differences in their weight.
This will happen, even if you feed them the right way (as advocated earlier) but it could be worse if you don’t feed them properly.
When you start noticing that there are some becoming lions and others, goats, it’s time to sort.
Sorting is the process whereby a fish farmer separate lions from the goats.
You have to sort your fishes regularly to avoid or limit cannibalism. Cannibalism is a situation whereby fishes eat each other.
It’s not a joke. Fishes eat one another. Fishes predate other fishes so it’s the survival of the fittest.
I have read about a fish farmer who lost about 30% of his fishes to cannibalism so you can see how deadly cannibalism is.
When planning and constructing your fish ponds, you must plan ahead of cannibalism. You have to plan where and how you’ll be sorting your fishes.
You can sort into another pond or sort and sell. I mean, you can separate the lions and sell them or separate them into a different pond.
This sorting should be done every 4 or 5 weeks.
Fishery & Accountability
Accountability is a skill every business owner must master. A business teacher of mine said, “You can’t improve what you cannot measure”.
You cannot improve what you cannot measure. You must measure your cost (pond’s construction, labor, feed, and other costs) and your revenues.
You have to get one or two durable notebooks and take adequate records of every cost and fish sales.
This will show you the real picture of your fishery business and this record could be of great use for future partnership and fund/capital raising.
Branding Your Fishery Business
As I have advocated earlier, you won’t go far in the fishery business if you see yourself as just a fish farmer.
You are NOT a fish farmer. You’re a fish entrepreneur.
If this is to be true then, you have to brand your fish business.
Some people have the idea that branding is meant for big companies and that’s very wrong.
Every business owner, no matter how small his/her business has to master branding.
It all started with your name. I am very surprised so many fish farmers don’t even have a name for their farms.
READ: Koi Fish Farming Guide
FISHERY BUSINESS PLAN OUTLINE
Mission Statement of Business
State clearly in 2-3 sentences what you intend to do in business.
a) Description of your proposed business
1) describe your product or business
2) support with diagrams, illustrations or pictures (if available)
b) Summary of your proposed marketing plan- design ponds or tanks to a size that all the fish produced
could be marketed in one day.
1) describe the market you’re aiming for- look for value-added, niche markets for catfish or tilapia.
2) outline the way you plan to reach your market – The fish farmers should seek to reach buyers through as
many approaches as possible to provide the best profit, such as direct sales at the farm as well as through
c) Summary of your financial estimates
1) state the total sales you aim to reach in each of the first three years
2) state the estimated profit for each of the first three years
3) state the estimated starting capital you’ll need
2.Statement of objectives
a) Statement of the desirability of your product or service
1) describe the advantages your product or service has, its improvements over existing products or services
2) state the long-range objectives and the short-range objectives of your proposed business
3) describe your qualifications to run the business
4) describe the ‘character’ you want for your business, the image you’d like your customers to see, such as hygienic conditions of the highest standard, live fish sales with cleaning and dressing of fish as per customer preference. For example, samples of cooked fish could be given to customers along with recipes.
3.Background of the proposed business
a) A summary of existing conditions in the type of ‘industry’ you’re intending to enter
1) where the product or service is now being used
2) how the product or service is now being used
b) A detailed explanation of your place in the industry
1) describe the projections and trends for the industry
2) describe competition you face
3) state your intended strategy for meeting competition
4) describe the special qualities of your product or service that make it unique
a) A description of your fish marketing strategy
1) design the farm with different sizes of ponds to meet different market demands and be able to sell all fish
harvested from a particular pond.
2) describe the market you plan to reach
3) keep production cost low with the feeding of quality fish feeds by a feed manager who feeds by feeding response
4) underprice the competition and make a profit by tight management and low costs with the lowest Feed
5) describe in detail how you plan to distribute your product or service (retail shops, door to door, etc.)
6) describe the share of the market you expect to capture
5. Selling tactics
a) An outline of the activities to be used in selling the product or service
1) state the methods you expect to use to promote your product or service (word of mouth, radio,
2) include a sample brochure or other promotional literature
3) present any data which supports your ability to meet your sales goals (i.e. actual orders, potential
4) explain the margins of safety you’ve allowed in your sales forecasts
b) Propose entering different fish markets as in the North and SE, where prices remain high.
6.Plan of operation
a) Description of the proposed organization
1) show an organization chart describing the needed business functions and relationships
2) describe the key positions and identify the persons to fill them
3) list equipment or facilities and space and location required
b) Farm pond operations
1) stagger pond stocking to allow one pond to be harvested per month, to maintain cash flow
2) manage to maintain low feed conversions and best management practices.
3) plan to purchase fingerlings and stock ponds every month to assure regular harvests
4) maintain proper storage of fish feeds without pests and moisture
5) practice proper sanitation program of sterilizing tanks and liming ponds before restocking.
7. Supporting data
a) Information required to support the major points in the business plan
1) a set of drawings of the product(s) to be made or a detailed description of the service to be offered
2) show a list of the equipment you’ll require for your business and estimates of the cost of that equipment
3) List the capital equipment you’ll need and its estimated cost.
4) List a price schedule for your product line or service
5) Include your market survey data (perhaps from your focus group)
6) supply the following financial data:
– projected statement and balance sheet for the first two years by the month
– Income statement for two years
– cash flow projection for two years
8. Conclusions and summary
a) statement of the proposed approach in starting the new business
1) state the total capital you’ll need and the safety factor you’ve used
2) state how much profit you expect and when you expect to show it
3) decide what percentage of ownership you want for yourself and your partners
4) indicate the total capital you’ll need and how it’s to be made up:
– your share of the starting investment
– how much you’ll need from others and when you’ll need the money
– state what share of the business you’ll give to investors or lenders
5) state your planned schedule for starting your business
The reason why so many ignorant farmers start, run, and travel all alone in their farming endeavor is that they believe they could manage their farm with common sense.
Yes, many of the things that evolve in fish farming are pure common sense. Just as I said earlier, anyone who can imagine how to take care of a little human child, to some degree, can manage a farm. But you see, common sense is not always common and sometimes it’s “complex sense”.
Make friends and relate with fish farmers (and other business-minded people) in your locality. Have some experienced people (one or two) who you can call at any time and ask questions.
Let me warn you; DON’T GO ALL ALONE.
Taking everything into account, I need to state completely that catfish cultivating is an undiscovered goldmine. If you need a fish farming business plan with a 3-year financial plan to secure funding, contact me on 08032176523.