Fish Farming Business Plan in Nigeria – The Million Naira Venture - Veggie Grow

Fish Farming Business Plan in Nigeria – The Million Naira Venture

Executive Summary

This business plan shows how fish farming venture can be done in Nigeria. The plan extensively explained catfish farming and tilapia farming in Nigeria. Types of ponds used in fish farming were thoroughly explained.

The cost and revenue analysis of engaging in fish farming business in Nigeria was also highlighted. The total cost, revenue and profit expected from fish farming in Nigeria were explained. The business plan showed that a good fish farmer in Nigeria can make a Return on Investment (ROI) of between 40-100% within a relatively short time.

This business plan highlights all the information you need to start your fish farming venture in Nigeria.

What is fish farming?

Fish farming is the rearing of fishes. In Nigeria, a lot of the people who engage in fish farming do it for profit making. About 80% of fish farmers in Nigeria engage in catfish farming. Catfish is the commonest type of fish used in aquaculture in Nigeria.

Fish farming is a venture anybody can invest in, It can be very profitable if you know the nitty gritty and it can be a loss making business if you do not know the tricks of the business.

The good thing about fish farming is that it is not seasonal like other types of farming. It can be done in the rainy season and in the dry season. Fish farming can also be done in all cities, towns and villages in Nigeria. You can engage in this venture in Kaduna, Abuja, Lagos, Ibadan, Abeokuta, Port Harcourt, Calabar, Benin, Owerri and all locations in Nigeria.

The main factors leading to failure in fish farming in Nigeria are the quality of fingerlings and other fish seeds, quality of water, the PH of the water, dissolved oxygen in the water, ammonia, cleanliness of the farm and turbidity etc.

Steps to take before venturing into fish farming business

Get a suitable land or space

To engage in fish farming, you need to acquire, lease or rent a farmland, land or space. The beauty of fish farming business is that it can be done in a very small space through intensive farming techniques.

Your land or space must have adequate water all year round as fish farming is water intensive. It is better if your land is near a commercial area as this will enable you to sell your fish at a good price and also reduce the cost of transporting your harvests to the market.

Arrange your source of water

Water is very important to fish farming. Before getting the land or space, you should ensure that adequate water is available. Aquaculture needs a lot of water. You can sink a borehole, well or use natural sources of water like river and stream. It is also possible to harvest large volume of water during the rainy season for use in the dry season.

Do soil and water analysis

This is what a lot of fish farmers do not do in Nigeria. You must send samples of your soil and water to a credible laboratory for analysis. The soil and water test will show the PH of the water and soil, nutrients profile of the water and soil and the microbial nature and count of the soil and water. If the test shows any anomaly, you will have to correct the anomaly. For example, an acidic soil will need to be amended with lime.

Build the fish pond

There are several types of ponds. Each type of fish pond has its own advantages and disadvantages. It is better you always engage an expert to build your fish pond for you. Veggie Grow builds good fish ponds for farmers in Nigeria ( or call 08025141924).

You should have several ponds. At different stages, you will have to sort your fishes and put fishes in different ponds according to their sizes. You will also have a separate pond for keeping sick and injured fishes. This is called the quarantine pond.

If you do not sort and separate your fishes, the big ones will not allow the smaller ones to feed, this can lead to death of the smaller ones and ultimately a loss making fish farming business.

The pond should be covered with nets to guide against predators.

Secure the farm

Thieves are attracted to fish farms because they know that they can easily sell the products. You can fence the farm round or employ a security guard. You can also use SIM card enabled IP camera with night vision.  Some areas are however very safe even without all these aforementioned measures.

Recruit capable hands

If your fish farm is big, you will need to recruit capable staff. Do not engage people based on big paper qualifications. Employ those with hands on experience on fish farming. You should also ask them for references from their past employers.

Supply of power

Your fish farm should have constant supply of power. You can use a small power generator if the supply of power from the grid is erratic.

Stock the pond with fish seeds

Most fish farmers get it wrong at this stage. I can confirm that most fingerlings and other fish seeds in Nigeria have undergone inbreeding. They are not fit for a good fish farming venture. This is what a lot of farmers do not know. Once you buy this type of fingerlings or fish seeds, you will keep feeding them and they will not grow big, at the end of the day, you are likely to make a huge loss.

Even most fish hatcheries after hatching their fingerlings will keep the good ones for themselves and sell the bad fingerlings to unsuspecting fish farmers.

Get good fingerlings and you are half way to making good profit in fish farming. Avoid runts and do not go around looking for fingerlings priced at rock bottom prices, this is the trick they use to lure you to buy bad fingerlings.

The types of fish seeds are post fries, fingerlings, juveniles and jumbo. The prices range from N8 to N60.

At Veggie Grow, we sell fingerlings gotten from imported breed stocks.

Management of the fish farm

You should strictly follow the daily management plan of your fish farm. Disinfectants should be used intermittently to clean the water. There are also antibiotics that can be used to attack diseases that can affect the fish farm.

Manure should be cured and disinfected before introduction to the pond.


You should not harvest your fishes before you get a firm commitment from buyers. Some buyers trick farmers to harvest and later get to the farm and start offering ridiculous prices. You can also visit restaurants and hotels around your location to market your products.

Business Plan – Cost and Revenue Analysis of Fish Farming (catfish) – 5,000 Fishes

This fish farming business plan is for the rearing of 5,000 catfish to maturity. There are several ways a farmer can use to save money while stocking fish seeds or fingerlings.

This business plan suggests the buying of 15,000 fingerlings at N10 each which will make the cost of buying the fingerlings N150,000. Please note that the fingerlings will be separated intermittently until the best and most healthy 5,000 fishes are left till maturity. The rest of the fingerlings can be sold to other fish farmers. Also note that the fish farmer can also prefer to have his own hatchery, this is not discussed in this aquaculture business plan.

The fishes are expected to be reared for 5 months and sold thereafter.

Cost Analysis

  1st Month 2nd Month 3rd Month 4th Month 5th Month
Cost of fish seeds         150,000        
Cost of feed         105,000          117,000          214,000           235,000           323,000
Labour Cost           15,000            15,000             20,000             20,000              20,000
Electricity/Power           10,000            11,000             10,000             10,000              15,000
Cost of operations           10,000            10,000               5,000             10,000              10,000
Miscellaneous              6,000              6,000               4,000                5,000                5,000
Cost of maggot and fat                 50,000             50,000  
          296,000          159,000          303,000           330,000           373,000
Total cost from 1st -5th month     1,461,000

In the first month, the sum of N296,000 will be spent on the fish farm. This includes the cost of fingerlings which is N150,000. At the first month, the fishes should be fed as frequent as possible. At least, the fishes should be fed three times a day. About 12 bags of fish feed will be consumed by the fishes in the first month. Copper feed can be used at this stage, it retails for N8,000 – N8,700 per bag.

The pond should be disinfected and treated with salt and antibiotics medication weekly. Blagdon is a fantastic anti bacteria and anti fungi medication that can be used. Also, tetracycline and other broad spectrum anti-biotic medication can be used. Separation of fishes according to sizes should commence in the first month. The labor costs, cost of power, cost of operations and medications and miscellaneous are in the table above.

In the second month, about 14 bags of feed are expected to be consumed by the fishes. Ziegler feed and coppers feed are appropriate at this stage. About N117,000 is expected to be spent on feeding in the second month, N15,000 on labour, N11,000 on power, N10,000 on cost of operations and N6,000 on miscellaneous making a total cost for the second month to be N159,000.

In the third month, N303,000 is expected to be spent. The cost of feeding is expected to be about N214,000. Ziegler feed and maggot should be used extensively in the third month.

In the fourth month, about 32 bags of feeds are expected to be consumed by the fishes. The biggest fishes should eat 6mm feed while the medium size fishes should eat 4mm feed. The total cost expected to be spent in the fourth month is N330,000. The breakdown of the cost is shown in the table above.

In the fifth month which is expected to be the last month before harvest, N373,000 is expected to be spent on feeding, labour, operations, miscellaneous and power as shown in the table above. 38 bags of feed are expected to be consumed at this stage.

Catfish Farming Business Plan – Revenue Analysis

If the fish farm is well run and the fishes are separated to different ponds according to their sizes. All things been equal, about 1,500 super big fishes, N1,000 big fishes, 2,000 medium size fishes and 500 small fishes are expected to be harvested after 5 months or 5.5 months.

The super big fishes are expected to be sold between N1,200 and N1,500 as they can weigh up 1.2kg -2kg. Selling the super big fishes N1,200 each will yield N1,800,000.

The big fishes can be sold for N650. They should weight an average of 1kg or slightly more. This will make the fish farmer about N650,000 (if sold N650 per kg multiplied by 1,000 fishes).

The medium and small fishes expected are 2,500 pieces. These are called mélanges and are sold in baffs in the local parlance. 2,500 pieces of small and medium fishes will be about 38 baffs.  A baff is about 28kg. A sum of N420,000 is expected as sales from the 38 baffs.

The total sales will be N2,870,000.

The Profit expected from 5,000 catfish stock is (N2,870,000 minus 1,461,000) = N1,409,000

Please note that cost, revenue, estimates and assumptions in this fish farming business plan can vary according to your location, management practices and socio-economic realities.

Catfish Melange Farming

A catfish farmer may prefer to farm his catfish and sell as mélange after 3 months. This can be profitable and the short term is an advantage.

The catfish farmer can still make Returns on Investment (ROI) of 40% – 50% within 3 months if he sells his fishes as mélange.

For some farmers, it is far easier to rear their fishes and sell as mélanges as they do not need to spend money on the purchase of expensive feeds and fats for fattening their fishes.

Should you want a detailed business plan on mélange farming, please do not hesitate to contact us through or call us on 08025141924.

Other details about fish farming business plan

Features of Catfish

The African catfish usually farmed in Nigeria and other African countries has a fairly large head, small eyes with bones and elongated body. The catfish grown in Nigeria usually have long dorsal and anal fins and can do well in fresh water bodies. It can also be farmed at home and in farms. The colour of the catfish is brown to black. The belly of the fish is somewhat white. The catfish breathes with its gills which it opens and closes.

History of catfish in Nigeria

Catfish naturally live in the fresh water bodies in Nigeria. Aquaculture is a business venture that started in Nigeria over 100 years ago. People have always farmed fish especially catfish in Nigeria for decades.

Catfish has been widely farmed by fish farmers in the southern part of Nigeria and the northern part of Nigeria. The first domestication of catfish in Nigeria was done around 1950 in Nigeria. Same domestication trails were done almost the same time in South Africa, Ghana, Congo DR and other African countries.

The domestication trials of catfish in Nigeria in the 1950s include the spawning, breeding, catfish farm management, harvesting and marketing.

The earlier fishermen in Nigeria used boats, nets and hooks to catch catfishes in rivers and other fresh water bodies in Nigeria before some of them shifted to aquaculture.

Countries Producing Catfish

Catfish is produced by a number of countries in the world. Even in cold countries like the United Kingdom, Netherland, Canada, United States and Belgium, catfish is farmed and produced in huge volume.

Nigeria and most of the African countries produce catfish. Most of the fish farmers in Nigeria prefer the production of catfish.

Habitat and Biology

The African/Nigerian catfish is distributed across Africa. It has its natural habitat in almost all countries in Nigeria. Go to Egypt, Nigeria, South Africa, Congo and Somalia etc, you will find catfish in the fresh water bodies there. Catfish is also present in the waters of Turkey, Lebanon, Syria and Palestine etc. Catfish occurs in South American countries like Mexico, Peru and Brazil etc. Catfish is also found in China and Vietnam. As a matter of fact, catfish are now being used in rice farming in these countries. Catfish farming has been proven to increase the yield of rice in China and some other Asian countries.

Catfish are found in rivers, floodplains, lakes, streams and swamps. They can migrate from larger body of water to flooded areas to breed and return to where they came from after breeding. The migration of catfish in uncultured water is largely for reproduction reasons.

An adult female catfish can lay about 60,000 eggs per kg. The egg laid by catfish usually stick to vegetations around the water they live in. When these eggs hatch (after 20-60 hours), juveniles that will later turn to adults emerge.

Production Systems

Catfish in Nigeria are reared in tarpaulin lined pits, ponds, concrete ponds, plastic tanks and fiberglass etc. Fingerlings are usually bought from well established catfish farms, they can also be gotten from flooded plains near rives and dams in Nigeria. After the introduction of fingerlings into the farms, feeds made from grains and fish/soya meals are given to fingerlings periodically. These production systems highlighted here are also practiced in other countries.

Seed supply, hatchery production and nursery

Wide catfish reproduce when the environmental conditions are ideal. These environmental conditions include the rise in water level, appropriate temperature and humidity and availability of adequate level of water.

In aquaculture, hormones are used to enable catfish to reproduce. These hormones include Ovaprim, Deoxycorticosterone Acetate (DOCA) and Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (HCG). In catfish farming, having good broodstock can make a farmer make good profit or make a loss. The government of Nigeria is encouraging various research to enable the country to be self sufficient in the production of good broodstock for catfish farmers.

There are a number of large and small hatcheries in Nigeria, though the number of hatcheries in the country is not enough. In well run hatcheries, catfish larvae are usually fed with a combination of egg yolk, cow brain for 3-7 days before they are stocked at 50-80 per square meter ponds. The ponds are enriched with chicken manure to promote the growth of zooplankton before the larvae are introduced. In some cases, the ponds are protected with nets and other materials to guard against predators.

Compounded feeds are usually used to feed the catfish postlarvae for 24-28 days. After harvesting at the 28th day, the fingerlings are weighed and graded. Those weighing below 10 grams are transferred to the production pond while those weighing below 6 grams may be fattened to reach the ideal weight of 6 grams before they are sold to farmers who need them or taken into production ponds. The survival rate in the nursing of larvae is about 30%.

In Nigeria, large hatcheries run by big time catfish farmers use the intensive recirculation systems. Genetically improved broodstock are used in these hatcheries with living organisms as feeds. These live feeds include Artemia, Brachionus, Moina and Daphnia. In these hatcheries, the success rate of eggs to fry is about 70% and some hatcheries have recorded above 80% success rates.

In Nigeria, the demand for catfish fingerlings is huge. It far exceeds the supply of fingerlings. A lot of the fingerlings supplied in Nigeria are of poor quality, they do not grow big, thereby reducing the Returns on Investment (ROI) of farmers.

Artemia is used to feed fry in the recirculation aquaculture systems for the first 14 days. Water temperature must no exceed 28 degree Celsius and biofilters are used to remove the excess ammonia and nitrogen in the recirculation aquaculture system. All the components of the aquaculture system are disinfected after every cycle in order to prevent or avoid diseases.

Techniques of growing catfish

There are a number of ways that can be used to grow or farm catfish, these methods are explained below:

The use of earthen ponds

Earthen ponds are common in Nigeria for the growing of catfish. This type of fish growing method involves the digging of a specified size of land and converting the dug land to a pond where fish can be stocked, fed and harvested when they are mature enough.

Stocking of fish in earthen ponds are usually done so that harvest will coincide with festive periods like Easter celebrations, Christmas, New Year and the Muslim festivals. Fish farmers expect to make super normal profits at these times of the year because of the increased demand for their stock of fish.

Earthen ponds are usually fertilized with chicken manure and other organic kitchen leftovers like plantain peels, yam peels and food leftovers etc. Compost can also be used to fertilise the earthen ponds. Fertilisation improves the development of zooplankton which the fish can feed on. This can lead to the general wellbeing of the fishes and increase their weight.

When using earthen ponds for catfish growing, grading of fish is intermittently done in order to separate the larger and the smaller fishes. The larger fishes can feed on the small ones and reduce the potential profit of the owner of the pond.

Grading and separation of fishes in earthen ponds also enable the smaller fishes to have the chance to feed will because if they are kept with bigger fishes, they will not be able to fish well and they may starve to death.

Nets should be used to guard and fence the earthen ponds so that predators like snakes will not have access to the pond. The net can also stop the catfish from going to nearby water bodies to spawn.

Tanks and raceways
In Nigeria, most of the catfish farmers prefer rearing their fishes in ponds. The use of tanks is common in the urban areas of Nigeria because it is portable and very easy to use. The use of tanks for the growing of catfish does not need any special skills or technicians like the use of ponds. Unlike ponds, technicians are needed for the mapping and construction of the pond. Fish tanks can easily be bought in the open market and set up within a few hours.

The tank can either be plastic, steel or made with concrete. The plastic and steel tanks can be easily bought in the open market while the concrete fish tank has to be built on the site of fish farm.

In Nigeria, a concrete tank of 4m by 3m by 1.3m can accommodate 400 catfish of size 5-15 grams each. After 6 months of feeding these fishes, a harvest of 300-600kg per cycle can be achieved. The yield depends on the competences and skills of the fish farmer.

Water recirculation system is a new system of growing catfish that has been adopted and introduced in Nigeria. Some farmers now practise catfish farming with this unique method. To be successful in water recirculation system, there should be availability of quality floating feed which is a concern in some parts of Nigeria. Without good floating fish feed, the use of water recirculation system may not be successful. There should also be adequate supply of power as the water will be circulated around the system intermittently.

In a typical water recirculation system, a water pump and plastic substrate biological filter are used. Fingerlings are stocked at 100-200 per cubic meter and the recirculation rate is about 2-10 litres per second. Fish production rates of above 900 kg per cubic meter can be recorded every year. Most of the floating fish feed in Nigeria are imported, however, some producers and fish farmers in Nigeria produce their own fish feed.

Freshwater is better used for the recirculation aquaculture system as they have very low saline level. Catfish do not do well in salty water. The water in the recirculation system is purified intermittently with the use of plastic substrate biological filters. The system is houses in a fiberglass, concrete housing of plastic tanks.

The main difference between the recirculation aquaculture system and tanks is that the former is highly intensive and a farmer can harvest up to 1,000 kg of fish per cubic meter space. The size of land required for the recirculation aquaculture system is also small. A lot can be achieved from the intensive nature of recirculation aquaculture system; however, it may be expensive to use this type of fish growing system in Nigeria.

Flooded Plains

In this method of growing catfish, fingerlings are introduced with flooded plains which are usually very rich in zooplankton. This can be done in areas that experience seasonal flooded plains every year. Flooded plains are fertile for all types of agriculture because debris and decomposed plant materials are brought to the flooded plains.

The flood plains also have the advantage of natural recruitment of catfish fingerlings. The water emanating from flood activities bring along with it all manners of fishes and their fingerlings. Local people can use a part of the flooded plains; introduce their own catfish fingerlings and harvest the adults before the flood recede at the end of the season.

This is a cost effective way of practicing aquaculture especially the farming of catfish in Nigeria and other African countries with seasonal flooded plains.


The use of holes to grow catfish is not common in Nigeria, it is very common in southern Asian countries like India, Nepal and Bangladesh. In this type of catfish growing method, ditches of 1-2,500 metres square are constructed or dug, fingerlings are introduced into these holes, pits or ditches and they are fed till they grow into adults and harvested.

The stocking rate of fingerlings in the holes is 1 gram of fry at 40-80 cubic meter and harvests are expected to be 200-300 grams of fish. The survival rate of the fish in this type of growing system is about 40%.


Cages are also used for farming catfish in Nigeria. Catfish can be stocked in cages dipped in open water bodies like rivers and dams. The water bodies must contain fresh water. The main advantage of using cages for rearing of fish is that you do not need to change the water as the flowing water replenishes the cage with fresh water.

Cage can also be somewhat easier to manage than other methods of rearing catfish. The fish are concentrated in the cages and can be harvested easily. Cages are also easy to buy and placed in water bodies.

Feed for catfish

The traditional feed used for catfish rearing in Nigeria is made with maize, wheat, rice bran, cornmeal, groundnut meal and cottonseed meal etc. The grains provide the carbohydrate while groundnut, fish meal or soya bean meal provide the protein component of the fish feed. Some big catfish farmers also make and pelletize their own feeds on farm. The feed usually contain about 30-34% protein. Raw materials used for farm made fish feed include brewery waste, chicken droppings, cocoa husk and coffee pulp etc. Earthworms, crickets, termites, maggots and other insects and worms can be used as feed for fish production.

Animal protein like fish meal and blood meal is the commonest source of protein for grow-out feeds for catfish grown and farmed in Nigeria and most other African countries. Catfish fed on feed with 34%-43% crude protein often perform better than other catfish fed with different percentage of crude protein. A lot of research have pointed to this fact.

In recirculation systems, the types of feeds used are somewhat different from the conventional type of feed, though the raw materials are almost the same but the composition of the crude protein and other nutrients are different.

Most of the packaged fish feed sold in Nigeria are imported into the country. There has been plans by some companies to start the production of quality fish feed in Nigeria but only few firms have achieved this feat. Fish farmers in Nigeria still have some concerns about using locally produced fish feed.

Methods of harvesting catfish

Catfish ready for the market can be harvested with the use of hauling seines. The seine net comes in different sizes; some can be very big while some can be small. You need to consider the size of your pond or fish farm before buying the seine net.

After hauling the fish out, they can be sorted into sizes for easier pricing and sales. Harvested catfish are usually sold per kilogram in Nigeria. However, some fish farmers prefer to smoke their catfish for sales during the lean period.

The pond can also be drained so that all the fishes in the pond can be visible to the eyes for easy catching. Some of the fishes can also hide in the mud. Draining the pond will enable the farmer to dig the mud and bring out all the hidden catfish.

Graded bars can also be used in partial harvesting of catfish especially if the farmer uses a recirculation system or tanks. Graded bars are usually used to harvest the largest fishes.

Handling and Processing

The Nigerian catfish and other African catfish are very rugged when out of water. So far there is water on the body of the catfish; they can stay out of water for days without any serious adverse effect on the catfish. This makes catfish very easy to handle. Harvested catfish can be loaded on trucks or plastic bowls with little water and taken to the market for sale. These catfish can be in these confinements for days without any of the catfish dying.

Harvested catfish are mostly sold to women. These women can be intermediaries or restaurant and bar owners. In Nigeria, about 80% of the buyers of harvested catfish are women in big cities and towns. As explained in this business plan earlier, some farmers prefer to smoke their harvested catfish.

Salts sprinkled on the skin of a catfish can kill it within a few minutes. The use of salt is one of the commonest ways of killing catfish before processing in Nigeria.

The gills of the fresh catfish are removed and placed on the traditional oven for smoking. Smoked catfish can be stored for months without deterioration.

Catfish can also be processed into fillets. In restaurants and bars in Nigeria, fresh catfish are garnished with pepper, onions and sauce before they are roasted. Roasted catfish are delicious and often consumed with soda, beer and juice. You are likely to see roasted catfish if you visit any bar or restaurant in Nigeria.

Catfish is also the choice fish for making pepper soup in Nigeria. Pepper soup is a delicacy eaten by almost all Nigerians.

Production Costs

The production costs of catfish in Nigeria vary according to location. The cost of labour in an urban area like Abuja and Lagos is much higher than the cost of labour in a rural area like Aiyetoro, Ogun state. The cost of fish feed can also be cheaper in Lagos because most of the feed producers are concentrated in this city while the same product can be more expensive in rural areas in Northern Nigeria because of the cost of trucking the feeds from Lagos to the rural areas in the  northern part of Nigeria.

The cost of feed remains the biggest production cost in catfish production in Nigeria. The cost of feed consists of between 50-75% of the total production costs of catfish in Nigeria. All catfish farmers complain bitterly about the cost of getting feeds for their stock of catfish. There are no cheap and efficient feeds to the industrially produced feeds yet; hence farmers have to contend with the high costs of the industrially produced feeds.

Farmers who use locally sourced feed often complain of low weight of their catfish and they are often forced to buy the industrially produced fish feed. Catfish farmers in other African countries also complain about the high cost of fish feed. The major reason of the high cost of fish feed in Nigeria is the importation of fish meal and other protein sources, devaluation of the naira and high cost of power.

Diseases and Control Measure

There are a number of diseases that can affect catfish, these diseases can be prevented and controlled if caught early. Below are the explanations of some diseases:

Disease Agent Syndrome Measures
Broken Head Not known The skeleton or shape of the catfish is deformed. The fish becomes weak because of its inability to feed and may die within days. Vitamin C should be introduced in the feeds to boost immunity of the catfish.
Ulcerative disease Unknown Ulcers on the skin of the catfish. The fish farm should be properly managed and cleanliness should be observed at all times.
Ruptured intestine syndrome Unknown Swollen and ruptured abdomen, weak fish and can finally lead to death. The feed or diet of the catfish should be balanced with all the necessary nutrients.
White spot Bacteria Sluggish and weak swimming of fish and inability to feed well. Antibiotics can be used as curative and preventive measures. Tetracycline is the commonest type of antibiotics used for this disease.
Water mould Fungi White or grey spots on the skin and eyes of the fishes. A fungicide can be dropped in the pond. A very little amount of sodium chloride can also be used.
Aeromonas septicaemi Bacteria Pigmentation of the skin and eyes of the catfish. Antibiotics like tetracycline can be used for prevention and curative measure.
Motile Aeromonad Septicaemia Bacteria Skin ulcers and enlarged abdomen Antibiotics should be mixed with the feed given to the fishes.
Parasites Protozoan White spots on gills and skin of fish. The use of antibiotics in feed for catfish.
Parasites Nematodes Perforation of the skin of the catfish by worms The use of nameticides

Production Statistics

Market and Trade

There is a huge market for African catfish in Netherlands, United Kingdom, France and Belgium etc, however, the Nigerian catfish farmers have not been able to tap this market because of government bureaucracy and non-adherence to standards demanded by these countries.

The price of a kilogram of catfish in Nigeria varies from N400 – N700 depending on the location and purchasing power of the buyers. Local market traders often try to buy fresh catfish from farmers at rock bottom prices. They use all manners of strategies to misprice the freshly harvested catfish.

Status and Trend

The market for catfish in Nigeria will continue to grow as it is mainly the only specie of fish cultured by fish farmers in Nigeria. The culture of tilapia and croaker is not common in Nigeria. Go to any town or city in Nigeria, you are likely to see a lot of catfish farmers.

The demand for catfish also keeps increasing in Nigeria partly due to increasing population in Nigeria, increased rural urban migration and the planned restriction on the importation of fish into Nigeria.

Value addition to catfish is also a reason for the increasing demand and consumption of catfish in Nigeria, though about 65% of the harvested catfish in Nigeria is sold fresh.

Main Issues in catfish farming in Nigeria

The issue of land ownership still remains an issue in catfish farming in Nigeria. In some cities like Lagos, touts called ‘omonile’ often make it very difficult for investors in fish farming to own farmlands. Even after paying the owner of the land and other government prescribed fees, the omoniles can stop you from taking full possession of the farmland until you pay them an exorbitant fee called ‘owo ile’ in the local parlance.

Pricing is also a key issue in catfish farming in Nigeria. Some farmers still find it hard to breakeven as the local market traders who are often women use all manners of tricks to buy the harvested catfish at ridiculous prices, knowing full well that the catfish farmer will prefer to sell the catfish in order not to over spend on feeding the fishes. There are instances where the market women will promise the fish farmers to buy at an agreed price only to reach the farm and tell the farmers that they cannot buy at the earlier agreed price. The farmer might have harvested his fishes expecting the women to come and buy at the agreed price.

The high prices of imported raw materials for catfish feed is also a discouraging factor for practicing aquaculture in Nigeria. The main protein source used for producing catfish feed in Nigeria is mainly imported from Netherland, Belgium and South Africa. The devalued local currency has made the importation expensive and the increase in prices is transferred to fish farmers. Yet, buyers of the catfish do not want to accept the increase in prices occasioned by the increase cost of catfish feed. This has reduced the margin of catfish farmers.

The quality of water used in catfish farming in areas like Lagos can be an issue. In some areas in Lagos, the water is highly saline; this can negatively impact the farming of catfish.

Responsible Catfish farming practices

Catfish farmers should strive to obey all the relevant laws and regulations of the country and location they operate in. There are state permits which catfish farmers need to get in some states in Nigeria if they want to practise fish farming in some areas. These permits do not apply to small scale fish farmers. The big catfish farmers may need to apply for these permits in order to play safe and not to do what will be termed as illegal in the location they operate. For example, in a state like Lagos, catfish farming is not permitted in some residential areas in Lagos Island.

Catfish farmers should also be responsible in their usage and discharge of water (including waste water). Water bodies should not be polluted with effluents which can be harmful to the locals, plants and animals making use of the water. Wastes from fish farms should be properly disposed.

Catfish farmers are also advised to join cooperatives or associations as there is strength in unity. Governments and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO) prefer dealing with co-operatives and associations. They can offer grants, loans and other assistance to members of the association or co-operatives. They hardly deal with individual catfish farmers.

Tilapia Farming

Tilapia belongs to the family of the cichlid fish. Tilapias are fresh water fish mainly found in rivers, streams, lakes and ponds. They may also be found in brackish water. Tilapia is suitable for commercial and artisanal fish farming. Though the culture of tilapia is not common in Nigeria, it has been embraced by fish farmers in some African countries.

The specie of tilapia commonly farmed in Africa (Nigeria inclusive) is the Nile Tilapia. This specie is the most suitable breed for farming. Tilapia is an omnivorous animal; it can eat diets composed of vegetables and animal.

Tilapia farming can be very profitable though it can be more challenging than catfish farming especially in the area of management of the sex of the fish.

Breeding of tilapia

Tilapia farmers keep mostly male tilapia fish. I have never seen any commercial tilapia aquaculture business that stocked females. They mostly keep male tilapia because of the size of male which can bring more revenue to the farmer. Besides, female tilapia are very prolific, if you keep female tilapia fish, you will overpopulate your pond with small fishes which will be detrimental to the health of the whole population of fish in the pond.

Below are the various methods used in breeding male tilapia offsprings:

Methyltestosterone technique (MT)

In this technique, methyltestosterone is added to the diet given to the juvenile tilapia fish. This makes the females grow as males while the males are left as males. Methyltestosterone simply changes the sex of females to males. It contains a sex changing hormone. Methyltestosterone does not retain in the body of the fish after 30 days so it is safe for consumption after 30 days.

YY Method

This method produces only YY chromosome males. It is a sex determining technique which is used to produce only male tilapia fish.

Males can also be separated individually from females in the hatchery, though this is a very tedious method for catfish breeding.

Tilapia Ongrowing Techniques


Tilapia can be cultured in ponds. Ponds can be natural or artificial. Artificial ponds are man-made body of water where fishes are kept or reared. The main inputs of pond culture of tilapia include vegetation, brans, chaff, manures, feed and inorganic fertilizers.

Animal manure and fertilisers encourage the growth of zooplankton which the tilapia can feed on. The proliferation of protein rich planktons can increase the yield of the pond. Chicken manure is one of the most nutritious manures that can be used for pond culture of tilapia fish in Nigeria.

There should be a check of the oxygen concentration level of the pond when using manure. Excessive manure application can deplete the oxygen in the water and negatively impact the fishes in the pond.

Applying chicken manure of 220kg every week per hectare with urea of 28kg of N per week per hectare and Triple Super Phosphate (TSP) of 7kg of P per week per hectare can produce about 4 tonnes of tilapia per hectare in 150 days, if this is annualized, about 10 tonnes yield can be achieved in 12 months.

The pond should be limed if the soil is acidic. The dissolved oxygen in the pond every day should be between 5-15 percent.

Floating cages

Floating cages are metallic made cages placed in water bodies. Tilapia fish are kept in these cages till harvest. The main advantage of the floating cage is that the water does not need to be changed regularly, however there is an issue of polluting the water body with effluents from the cage.

Cages can also be built with raffia and other wooden materials but this type of cages do not last long like cages built with iron rods.

Other merits of floating cage are:

  • The fish can be closely monitored for diseases
  • The capital needed for floating cage culture is relatively low
  • The cost of harvesting is relatively low

The demerits of floating cage culture are:

  • The cage can be damaged by predators or thieves
  • There is a higher risk of disease outbreak
  • The cost of feeding may be higher

Tanks and raceways

Tilapia can also be cultured in raceways and tanks. These tanks and raceways can vary in sizes from 10-1000 cubic meter.

Recirculation systems

The recirculation system is an intensive stock management for tilapia. The main components of a recirculation system are the fish rearing tanks, biofilter, solid removal equipment, aerator and a degassing unit.

The biofiliter removes the unwanted dirts and materials like ammonia from the system. The fish rearing tank is where the fishes are reared. The aerator improves the oxygenation of the system while the solid removal equipment removes the unwanted solids from the recirculation system.

The recirculation system ensures that clean water is used to replace the waste water every day; this is to ensure that the water is free of ammonia and other unwanted impurities. Water rich in ammonia can cause problems for the fish in the system; it can even lead to their death.

Methods of harvesting tilapia

Just like catfish, seine nets can be used for the harvesting of tilapia in ponds. The seine nets can be spread in the pond, one the fishes enter the net, the rope of the net will be drawn to capture the fishes.

Some seine nets can also be set overnight to capture the fishes in the pond. The pond may need digging to unearth the fishes which might have hidden in the mud.

The nets come in different sizes. Some nets can be handled by just a single person while some larger types can only be handled by several people.

Baskets are also used for harvesting of tilapia in some communities in Nigeria and Africa. The baskets are woven with raffia; they are made in a cylindrical shape which ensures that fishes that enter it cannot get out again.

The tilapia can also be harvested by hand especially in intensive farming culture. The fishes can be trapped in an enclosure in the system so that they can be hand picked individually.


This fish farming business plan has discussed all what you need to know about fish farming and its profitability. Should you need any further information, kindly send an email to or call us on 08025141924. We do a complete fish farm set up.

Ayo Akinfolarin

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