Aquaculture is the raising and harvesting of fresh and saltwater plants and animals. It is practiced to increase fish production worldwide. This industry accounts for an ever increasing share of world fisheries production as wild fish stocks continue declining. Once a subsistence activity, it is now also pursued as a commercial venture reaping profits for farmers, input providers, fish processors and traders.
Examples of species that have been produced through aquaculture include catfish, tilapia, trout, carps , milkfish, seaweeds and prawns. Many
other species are also cultured in different parts of the world. Ability to culture a species depends on domestication and climatic factors such as temperature, altitude etc. Production systems include earthen ponds, raceways, cages, pens, tanks, and recirculation. These vary in the intensity of production possible.
Why fish farming?
- Food for the family (fish is a good source of proteins)
- Employment creation and poverty eradication
Before starting fish farming, a farmer needs to have basic knowledge on fish and fish farming in general. He/she then needs to have money
(capital) to invest. The cost of investment depends on the system of production and local soil conditions. The investment includes land, buildings, ponds and start-up costs (constructing ponds, digging water wells, constructing a farm house and store, installing pumps and pipe systems for water, digging draina ge ditches, access road construction, and value addition facilities).
The success of a fish farming project largely depends on your project site conditions. Selection of the site and appropriate design of your fish farm in this site must take into account the biological traits of the target fish, the intended capacity required to achieve optimal and cost
effective production. Factors to consider:
- Climate: Precipitation, temperature range, winds, solar radiation, cloudiness
- Water source: Type, availability, seasonal flow rate, elevations, flooding
- Water quality: Composition, salinity, mud erosion, etc
- Land: Topography and the elevation system of land and water source
- Soil: Profile and mechanical characteristics for construction
- Environment: Pollution, hazards, sensitive ecological niches
- Infrastructure: Roads, services, access, communication, electrical grid, etc
- Social: Neighbours
Suitable fish species for farming
- Criteria for selecting the appropriate fish to culture:
- Full control over the life cycle processes in captivity
- Fast growth rate, from egg to market size
- Simple and inexpensive dietary needs
- Hardiness and resistance to disease
- Market acceptability
- Availability of proven technology
Basic knowledge for running a fish farm
Biology of the fish to farm (“from egg to table size”)
Design and construction of production units (ponds)
- Basic inputs (water and energy)
- Basic materials (feeds, drugs and chemicals)
- Brood stock management
- Hatchery management/operations
Feeds and Feeding
Feeding is a very essential component in fish farming. Feeds can cost dearly for a fish famer and especially when they are not locally available. A farmer must know where to buy the best feeds for his fish. Alternatively, he must be able to produce feeds for his fish using local available ingredients. A famer should also know how to grow natural feeds for fish through pond fertilization. The farmer should also have knowledge on the amount of feeds to be given to the fish and the number of time that fish have to be fed in day .
Pond management can mean the difference between profit and loss. A well managed pond means a pond that has its water quality maintained with appropriate dissolved oxygen, nutrient balance and low in ammonia, nitrites and low secchi disk. This conditions must be monitored and remedial action taken.