An Estimate on the Cost of Raising 1,000 Fishes to Market Size

Introduction to Fish Farming

The estimate of how much you will spend on 1,000 fishes depends on so many factors. These include the type housing (whether concrete or earthen pond) the type of feeds used (whether important or local) and feeding and all other management procedures.

It also depend on the size you want them to reach before harvesting them. However for them to reach an average weight 1kg,you are likely to have spent between 150 and 200 per fish, so, you can multiply this by number of fish you want to produce so that you make adequate budgeting.

How Much it Costs to Start a Fish Farm in Present Day Nigeria

Of course, if you want to start a profitable catfish farm one of the first things you want to know is the cost involved in setting up the farm.

Let’s set the ball rolling by listing some of the expenses that will be incurred before, during and at the end of the production process. These expenses are:

  1. Pond Rentage: There is a cost attached to whichever system you would like to use to raise your catfishes. Whether you own it outright or lease it, you must prepare your cost analysis with an acceptable rent value.
  2. Pond Preparation: This involves clearing of bushes, de-mudding, liming and other corrections that must be done on the pond e.g. piping, construction of erosion channels, etc.
  3. Netting: Setting of nets to prevent predator attack on your stock is an expense that must be included in your cost analysis table.
  4. Procurement of Juveniles: Standard cost of juvenile is applicable here. Whether it is self-bred or bought from breeders, a juvenile must not cost more than N30.
  5. Feeds: This include cost of various sizes of conventional and non-conventional feeds.
  6. Cost of Feeding: If the owner is not always available, the farm attendant must be paid either in cash or in kind. Please endeavor to add this cost on your production.
  7. Logistics Cost: This include all expenses on transportation of feed and manpower to the farm. It is better you carry your feed once in a month so as to reduce cost on logistics. However, it’s not always good to store your feed for too long a time. I will honestly recommend that you carry in feed once a week especially when you are dealing with local feed
  8. Security: Cost of securing your pond is real especially when your ponds are not always under your watch. It is better to rent a pond where many ponds are situated to reduce the cost on security.
  9. Routine Medication: This is optional, but you must prepare for the unexpected because it is possible you experience mortality in the cause of production. Read more in my article on cure for catfish mortality.
  10. Cost of Cropping: This is another cost that should be included in your cost analysis whether you do it yourself or hire an expert.

Cost Analysis Table (Alternative A)

Combination of floating and sinking feed.

Detail of Expenditure Cost Value (Naira)
Pond rentage for six months (for 1,000 juveniles) 15,000
Pond preparation (applicable to earthen pond only) 10,000
Netting (including workmanship) 5,000
Procurement of juveniles (N25 each; between 6 and 10 grams) 25,000
Feeds (floating; I recommend 100 grams per fish. That’s approximately seven bags at 7,000 each) 44,000
Local feed (1,700kg at N280 per kg). Note: At conversion ratio of 1.4:1. 392,000
Cost of feeding (assume N2,000 monthly for five months) 10,000
Cost of logistics (assume N2,000 monthly for five months) 10,000
Security (assume N1,000 monthly for five months) 5,000
Cost of Medication (optional) 2,000
Cost of Cropping 4,000
TOTAL 522,000

Cost Analysis Table (Alternative B)

Floating Feed Only

Detail of Expenditure Cost Value (Naira)
Pond rentage for six months (for 1,000 juveniles) 15,000
Pond preparation (applicable to earthen pond only) 10,000
Netting (including workmanship) 5,000
Procurement of juveniles (N25 each; between 6 and 10 grams) 25,000
Feeds (floating all-through; 74 bags at conversion ratio of 1.2:1kg. A bag will cost N6,000) 444,000
Cost of feeding (assume N2,000 monthly for five months) 10,000
Cost of logistics (assume N2,000 monthly for five months) 10,000
Security (assume N1,000 monthly for five months) 5,000
Cost of medication (optional) 2,000
Cost of Cropping 4,000
TOTAL 530,000

Sales Analysis Table

Quantity Harvested (expected) Value (Naira)
1,080kg of fish (At the current rate of N600 per kg) 648,000
Total 648,000

Net Profit = Total Value of Sales – Total Cost of Production

For Alternative A: Net Profit = 648,000 – 522,000 = 126,000

For Alternative B: Net Profit = 648,000 – 530,000 = 118,000

The higher the quantity of catfish stocked, the better the profit expected. However, I would like to suggest that new Nigerian catfish farmers should start with a maximum of 1,000 pieces of catfish and later increase the scale.

This will enable them to learn the rudiments of catfish farming while gradually working towards scalable profitability. Also, I would like to advocate, and I believe other farmers will join me, that a kg of fish should not be sold for less than N650.

i would also like to give this piece of advice to my readers: don’t quit, there are better days ahead.

Read Also: How to Control Feeding Struggle among Fishes in the same Pond

Site Selection and Construction of Fish Farm

Site selection

Appropriate site selection is one of the most important factors that determine the success of the fish farm. Before construction of the pond, the water retention capacity of the soil and the soil fertility has to be taken care of because these factors influence the response to the organic and inorganic fertilization in the farm pond.

The selected site should have adequate water supply round the year for pond filling and other uses. The pond construction has to be based on the topographic area. In swampy and marshy areas, bunds should have a greater accumulation of soil to build the pond of a preferable size. Self-draining ponds are ideal for higher elevation areas.

The site should be easily accessible by road or any form of transport to reach the market for easy fish disposal. In addition to this, the accessibility of inputs such as feed, seed, fertilizer and the construction material should also be available nearby the site. The site should be free from pollution, industrial waste, domestic waste and any other harmful activities.

For, site selection the following ecological, biological and social factors need to be considered.

Ecological factors

In site selection for a pond, the ecological factors to be considered include soil, water, topography and climate.

Soil

The soil quality influences the pond productivity and water quality and determines the dyke construction. The properties of soil texture and soil permeability are determined to decide the suitability of a site. Pond bottom should have the ability to hold the water.

Loamy, clay loamy and silt clay soil types are most suitable for pond construction. A good quality gravel should not exceed 10 percent. Thus the rocky, sandy, gravel and limestone soil types are to be avoided.

Evaluation of soil suitability

Soil suitability can be evaluated by three methods.

  • In squeeze method, take the soil in wet hand and squeeze the soil by closing your hand firmly. If it holds its shape even after opening the palm of your hand, soil is suitable for pond construction.
  • The ground water test is the best method to evaluate the soil suitability. Dig a pit of one-meter depth and cover it with leaves for a night. If the pit is filled with ground water in the next day morning then a pond could be built. However, in such soils, drainage may require more time due to the availability of sufficient groundwater. If the pit is empty the next morning, the site is suitable for pond construction, but the water permeability has to be tested.
  • The third method is the water permeability test. Pour the water into the pit and cover with leaves. If no water is found in the pit on the next day morning then there is seepage. To confirm this, once again pour the water into the pit and cover it with leaves. If the water availability is high then the site is suitable for construction. But if the water is drained, the site is not suitable for pond construction. However,  the site can be used through use of plastic or heavy clay to cover pond bottom.

Water

An adequate amount of water is required to build the fish farm because water depth needs to be adjusted at regular intervals. Natural water bodies such as reservoir, river, and lakes have stable water quality parameters (Water temperature, dissolved oxygen, pH, alkalinity and water hardness) when compared to borewell and well water.

The site should be away from the flood area. Water should not be acidic or alkaline and if found to be so, suitable correction is to be done by applying lime or organic manure respectively.

The ideal water temperature is 20 – 300C for a fish farm. Water Salinity is the amount of salt dissolved in water. A few freshwater fishes such as tilapia and catfishes grow even in salt water, but the carps can withstand only in freshwater.

An Estimate on the Cost of Raising 1,000 Catfishes to Market Size

Topography

Type of pond construction is determined by the land topography. Normally, flood prone areas and poor rainfall areas need to be avoided. Areas such as industrial zones, fields with underground oil pipelines, irregular land area, fields with high electricity poles and radio masts and highly rooted vegetation area are also not recommended for pond construction.

Read Also: When to Feed your Fishes after Stocking

Biological factors

Biological factors include the species to be cultured, seed source and culture type and they need to be considered before site selection of farm.

Social and Economic Factors

The ecological and biological factors are a prerequisite for good practices in aquaculture site selection and site management. It is also important to get to know the social and economic background of the area and understand the culture and traditions, particularly ideas and beliefs locally associated with aquaculture practices.

The social fabric, market, and its structure, services directly or indirectly linked with aquaculture sector such as transportation, storage, wholesale market aspects etc are to be considered. The land identified for farm should be without legal issues and fish farming should be accepted by the local people. Other factors include availability of labour, electricity, medical facilities, and transportation.

Pond Construction

An intelligent design and layout is a prerequisite for an efficient pond construction. The excavated earth should be used to construct the dyke and with a plodding slope towards the outlet for the proper draining facility. Preferably construction of pond has to be completed during summer so that the pond can be used for stocking.

Steps in pond construction

Normally, the pond construction includes the following steps.

Step 1: Prepare the site by removing unwanted things such as the trees, bushes, and rock

Step 2 : Construction of seepage-free and secure dyke by using the clay core

Step 3 : Digging the pond and construction of dyke over the clay core

Step 4 : Inlet and outlet construction

Step 5 : Pond dyke covered with soil and plant grass species (avoid long rooted plants such as Rhodes grass and star grass)

Step 6 : Pond should be fenced to avoid theft and entry of predatory animals

Site preparation

The place is cleared of ropes, cables and other items. Trees and bushes and other obstacles that hinder movement of heavy equipment around the site are to be removed – manually / animal power /using machinery. All vegetation including wood are to be cleared in the area (inclusive of 2 to 3 m beyond the dyke for workspace).

Trees within 10 meters surrounding,  tree slumps, large stones, are also to be removed. The surface soil which has the highest concentration of roots and organic material is not suitable for pond construction. Hence, about 30 cm of surface soil has to be removed.

Construction of dyke

Dykes should be compact, solid and leak free. A desirable dyke is constructed using 15 – 30 percent of silt, 45 – 55 percent of sand and 30 – 35 percent of clay. A sufficient width of the berm (not less than 1 m) is required to stabilize slope. The embankment slope in horizontal to vertical should be 2:1 in good quality clay soil and 3:1 for loamy silt or sandy soils.

To raise the dyke, the clay buddle (1:2 sand and clay) is deposited as 10 – 15 cm thick layer and it can be formed at centre or inside the waterside of the pond. The crest of the dyke should be sufficient to help allied farm activities and the top of embankment should be above 1 m. Extra outlet is essential on the embankment as a safety measure to avoid damage due to excess raise in the water level.

Digging the pond and construction of dyke

Types of pond

Specific kinds of ponds are required for specific life stage development of fishes – such as nursery, rearing, stocking, treatment  and broodstock pond. The rectangular pond is preferred than round shaped corners as it prevents the fish escape during harvest.

An ideal length and breadth ratio of the pond is 3:1 is ideal, with breadth not more than 30 – 50 m. The total farm area can be divided as – nursery – 5 % of total farm area, rearing pond – 20 %, stocking pond – 70 %, and bio pond or treatment pond – 5 % of the total farm area.

  • Nursery pond – The size of the nursery pond is about 0.01 to 0.05 ha with a depth of  1.0 – 1.5 m. The spawn (3 days old) are stocked in nursery pond, reared for a maximum of 30 days (to attain 2 – 3 cm length).
  • Rearing tank –  a tank where the fry are reared into fingerlings (to attain a size of 10 – 15 cm) and the culture duration is 2 – 3 months. The size of pond varies from 0.05 – 0.1 ha with water depth of 1.5 – 2.0 m.
  • Stocking pond – In stocking pond, the fingerlings (TL 10 – 15 cm) are reared into marketable size. The culture duration varies from 8 – 10 months. The stocking density varies according to the target fish production. The stocking pond is used as broodstock pond and breeding pond as per the requirement. However, the pond area ranges from 1 – 2 ha with a greater water depth of 2.5 – 3.0 m. There are no hard rules regarding the size of the ponds.
  • Bio pond or treatment ponds – these are large settling tanks, where the water used for fishponds is purified biologically. They may also be used as stocking pond. However, an even flat bottom is recommended for easy netting operation.

A productive farm should use its higher altitude area for construction of nursery pond followed by the rearing pond. The lowest area of the farm should be used to build the stocking pond, which will help in reducing the cost of construction and increase ease of farm management.

Read Also: The Most Lucrative between Production of Fish Fingerlings or Raising them to Table Size

Pond construction types

The ponds are constructed by two types namely, dug out and embankment pond.

The dug out pond is constructed by digging the soil and is most suitable to construct ponds in plain areas. It is to be scientifically constructed maintaining shape, size, depth and other factors.

Embankment pond is more appropriate for hilly areas. Dykes may be erected on 1 or 2 sides based on need. This pond is economically viable but not ideal for fish culture because the size, shape and depth of pond cannot be fixed as per scientific fish culture specifications.

Inlet and outlet construction

Feeder canals are constructed to provide sufficient amount of quality water to the ponds except in ponds which are filled by rainwater. Inlets are provided at top of the pond and screens are used to filter the pumped water to avoid entry of unwanted particles to the culture system. The inlet pipe size has to be designed is such a way that it should not take more than 1 or 2 days to fill the pond.

The outlet pipe is set up at bottom of the pond. It is used to dewater the pond during harvest and partial draining for pond water exchange to maintain the water quality of the pond during the culture period. The outlet is constructed prior to pond dyke construction.

Soil and vegetation coverage of Dyke

To reduce the soil erosion, creeping grass can be grown on the top and sides of dyke. The banana and coconut trees can be planted in the embankment. The slope of the embankment can be planted with grasses such as Hybrid Napier, gunny grass and elephant grass to supply feed to the grass carps reared in the ponds.

Pond fencing

The ponds are fenced to protect from theft. Live fences also serve as windbreak, increase farm diversity, provide privacy to farm and improve the appearance of the fish farm. There are several ways to make fences.

These include live fence, piled fence, woven fence, post and rail fence, wire fence, wire netting fence and stone wall. Each type of fence has its own advantages and disadvantages. Wired net fence is primarily used in fish farms to stop intruders and protect the fish stock.

Here are more amazing fish farming books to guide and assist you further:

Reference

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