Fish Farming In Nigeria – Fish Species In Nigeria

Introduction to Fish Farming in Nigeria: Fish farming is a popular business in Nigeria and it is increasingly growing popular because of the demand for healthy animal protein. The good thing about the fish farming business is that it is not seasonal like other types of farming. It can be done in the rainy season and also in the dry season. Fish farming is the rearing of fishes. In Nigeria, a lot of the people who engage in the fish farming business do it for profit-making. About 80% of fish farmers in Nigeria engage in catfish farming and it is the commonest type of fish used in aquaculture in Nigeria. One of the most popular agribusinesses in Nigeria is the fish farming business and for several good reasons. In this article we also covered the below topics about Fish Farming in Nigeria;

  • Fish farming setup costs in Nigeria
  • What are the ingredients of fish feed
  • Business plan for fish farming in Nigeria
  • Types of fish farming in Nigeria
  • Small scale fish farming in Nigeria
  • Fish feed ingredients in Nigeria
  • The process to start a fish farm business in Nigeria

A Step-by-Step Guide to Fish Farming in Nigeria

Fish farming business can be done in all cities, towns, and villages in Nigeria. You can engage in this venture in Kaduna, Abuja, Lagos, Ibadan, Abeokuta, and Port Harcourt, Calabar, Benin, Owerri, and all places in Nigeria. In Nigeria, the insatiable demand for fishery products such as Tilapia, Catfish, and Salmon has constantly self-promoted the steady growth and expansion of the fish industry. Fish farming thrives in most parts of Nigeria mainly in Southwest, South, Southeast, and North Central. The most farmed fish species in Nigeria are catfish and tilapia, even though Nigeria has an environment that supports the farming of other tropical species of fish. The major factors leading to failure in fish farming in Nigeria are the quality of fingerlings and other fish seeds, quality of water, the water pH level, dissolved oxygen in the water, ammonia, and cleanliness of the farm, etc.

In Nigeria, fish is an important food source for many people, which is currently estimated at 186 million people. Increased fish production and consumption can contribute to alleviating food and nutrition insecurity. The majority of households in Nigeria about 58% suffer from chronic or transitory food insecurity. Though, the role of aquaculture in Nigeria is growing, as the sector is becoming increasingly economically and politically incentivized.

Fish farming in Nigeria is among the most popular businesses related to agriculture in the country, and there are several reasons for such popularity, for example;

  • Fish meat is a popular product;
  • Fish is the main source of protein and several other elements for our health;
  • Fish is the main product that can be sold quite fast;
  • Most fish species mature quickly;
  • Fish farming hasn’t environmental hazards.

All these reasons support the profitability of the fish farming business. Among the most popular types of fish farming in Nigeria, there are Cat Fish, Tilapia, and Mackerel (Titus).

Importance of Fish Farming in Nigeria

  • Fish plays an important role in the diet of the Nigerian people. Fish and fish products provide more than 60% of the total protein intake in adults, especially in rural regions.
  • Employment generation – Fish production occupies an important position in the primary sector providing direct employment for over a million people.
  • Source of income – The fish farming business is lucrative. Many fish farms are established yearly to produce fish, rivers and streams are continuously utilized as regular fish ponds and generating revenue to the individual fish farmer and another resource holder.
  • Government support – Nigeria government has carried out a proactive policy on the fish farming business. Then, the implementation of a new import quota regime for fish has been published. Thus, the importance of the fishing industry to the sustainability of animal protein supply in the country cannot be over-emphasized. So, fish farming has high prospects in Nigeria.

The Various Type Of Fish Farming In Nigeria

The most common fish species cultivated in Nigeria are Catfish, Salmon, Carp, and Tilapia

1) Catfish Farming in Nigeria

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Catfish Farming
Catfish Farming (Image credit: pixabay)

Because of the popularity of the fish breed, catfish farming is the most popular aquaculture business in Nigeria. Catfishes are the most common fishery products used in African meals at several households, restaurants, events, hotels, and a lot more. Their ease of cultivation and demand makes most aquaculture farmers focus on growing catfishes instead of other fish breeds. It can be reared mainly on a small or large scale. Catfish farming involves creating ponds, breeding fingerlings, or juvenile to maturation stage. Therefore, people naturally flow in the direction of fish species they found to be the easiest to cultivate.

2) Tilapia Farming in Nigeria

This fish farming business is run with freshwater fishes inhabiting shallow streams, ponds, rivers, and lakes. They’re of increasing importance in aquaculture systems all over the world. The fact that these fishes grow rapidly and then tolerate high stocking densities and poor water quality, makes them a lucrative breed for fish farmers to grow. Tilapia is one of the common fish types cultivated in Nigeria. It is a warm-water fish, with a rapid growth rate and comes in larger sizes compared to other types of fishes. Tilapia fishes grow in a freshwater environment like streams, ponds, lakes but mostly not in brackish water. Tilapia is easy to cultivate and very popular in the Nigerian market, it reproduces very rapidly and grows fast too.

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Tilapia (source: pixabay)

3) Salmon (Mackerel) Farming in Nigeria

Usually, Salmons are freshwater fishes that migrate to the ocean and return to freshwaters to reproduce. While they are harvested in the wild, they are also grown in fish farms. Salmon fishes account for a high percentage of fishery products consumed in Nigeria. They are known as “Titus” in Nigeria and are purchased by millions of households daily.

Catfish Breeding in Nigeria

For starting catfish farming in Nigeria, the first thing you have to get hold of is the fingerlings. The fingerling can be obtained through artificial propagation in the hatcheries through hormonal induction. If you intend to produce your own fertilized eggs, and you can make use of the homoplastic pituitary gland suspension.

In Nigeria, it is more affordable than the imported hormonal analogues. Also, fish farmers say that they are more reliable. But despite the beauty of induced spawning, there are challenges which you must face are both biotic and abiotic challenges. Then, these problems all have their root in the extra care needed to be given to the fry during the first week of life. In this regard, you have to battle with the provision of zooplankton which serves as feeds for the larvae, fry, and fingerlings thus playing the main role in their growth and survival.

There is also the problem of cannibalism, heavy predation by frogs or aquatic insects, and abiotic challenges such as water temperature, dissolved oxygen (>4.5mg/L-1), levels of ammonia. The broodstock to use for breeding must be between 0.3kg and 2kg.

In Nigeria, Catfish feed can either be imported or locally produced. The fish feed contains nutrients like protein, minerals, carbohydrates, fat and oil, vitamins, and water. Fish feeds and feeding are so important that it takes about 60 to 70% of the total production cost, therefore, if we can handle our feeds and feeding well, surely going to break even and make a profit. Catfish like to eat early in the morning and evening. Do not feed them expired or mouldy feed.

Consumer Behavior for Fish Framing in Nigeria

Income, market value, and seasonality determine availability and access to fish. Complex socio-cultural and behavioral factors influence fish consumption. Food taboos and community and household perceptions of different fish species also affect decisions around fish consumption.

In Nigeria, households in the southern region eat more fish compared to those in the northern region. Also, household fish consumption is higher in urban than rural areas, and people of higher socioeconomic status consume fish more often than those of lower status. As incomes grow in Nigeria, fish demand is predicted to increase. Different fish species in Nigeria are crayfish, sardines (freshwater and saltwater), Bonga, and mackerel, as well as cultured fish species like tilapia, carp, and catfish.

Food taboos influence fish consumption in Nigeria. These practices, though important to society and culture, can lead to misconceptions about the nutritional quality of foods. Taste, texture, and convenience-based preferences are also important factors to consider when analyzing consumer behavior. For example, people of high socioeconomic status are more likely to purchase fresh fish.

Fish Species in Nigeria

There are several species of catfish around the world. All of those species are not suitable for farming based on the weather and climate of Nigeria. Then, those can be used for commercial fish farming in Nigeria. Clarias gariepinus, Heterobranchus bidorsalis, Heterobranchus hybrid (Heteroclarias), Clarias nigrodigitatus, Heterobranchus spp, and Clarias spp, etc., are common and most popular catfish species in Nigeria for commercial fish farming business.

Benefits of Fish Farming in Nigeria

  • Fish is Popular – Fishery products are popular in the market, constituting more than 60% of meat products in the Nigerian market.
  • Fish is a Major Source of Protein – Fish is one of the main sources of protein. Also, fish is rich in calcium and phosphorus and is equally a great source of minerals like iron, zinc, iodine, magnesium, and potassium.
  • Fish Sells Quick – Fish sells faster than any other animal products in the market and is cheaper than meats, making it the number one choice when it comes to affordability.
  • Fish Matures Quickly – Fish grows fast as practices in fish farming make it possible for farmers to increase the fastness of their fish growth by giving them certain feeds, and ensuring that you harvest.
  • Huge Demand – Fish is one of the main sources of protein, and it is widely consumed on a large scale. Thus, the fish demand is stable all year round. Fishes are known to grow rapidly. Therefore, investing in a fish farming business will result in huge patronage and a source of cash flow.
  • Rapid Growth – Usually, the growth pattern of fish is fast. This singular characteristic of fishes ensures that fish farmers can harvest and then sell in a short time.

Feed and Feeding Methods for Fish Farming in Nigeria

For the growth of any animal, feeding is the most important part, and they grow well when they are fed well. Even though there are different feed requirements for fishes, we will advise you to use foreign feeds (but you can make findings on good local feeds, there are good local feeds too) as the business is mainly for commercial purpose and you want the fish to grow well in the shortest period for you to get profit on investment.

To achieve the maximal yield of fish in Nigeria, you have to ensure that the feed you are offering contains the essential amino acids like arginine, methionine, and lysine found in crude protein sources. Then, the richest source of crude protein for this purpose is fishmeal. Instead, you can use other conventional and sometimes unconventional animal by-products as well as plant residue (such as groundnut cake, and soya bean cake, etc.) that meet the nutrient requirements of catfish. This is to minimize production costs as much as possible. This ensures adequate fish feeding thus increased the growth rate.

Types of Fish Feeds in Nigeria

Dry Fish Foods

These probably the popular fish feeds that you will find in Nigeria. They are also known as flake foods, and they are types of artificially manufactured feeds that are concentrates made up of fiber and nutrients for fish consumption. Normally, these feeds are consumed by a broad variety of tropical fish (Nigeria is a tropical country) and saltwater fish as well. These fish feeds are made to last long on the shelf without deteriorating in quality.

Vacation Fish Feeds

Vacation fish foods are a bulky type of fish feed and it is also called ‘food blocks’ or ‘weekend blocks.’ This fish feed is prepared with the intention of being put into the aquarium for fish consumption.

Medicated Fish Feed

Generally, medicating feed has been a long-standing agricultural practice in the world of Agriculture. When it is necessary to treat the fish with medication the most efficient method to do this is through their food, which they will undoubtedly consume hook line and sinker, and so the best method to do so is through medicated fish food. The main advantage of medicating fish feed is that it does not contaminate the pond, unlike bath treatments. It does not affect fish negatively; neither does it affect algae growth in the fish pond. It practically leaves no traces because all of it has been eaten up, and what can be left is flushed out by the normal flow of the water.

Frozen Fish Feed

These are usually made by some ingredients like Mosquito larvae, water fleas, Bloodworms and Daphnia, or brine shrimp. Though, instead of drying the ingredients, they are sealed in blister packs or resalable packets and then frozen. The supplier should keep them frozen until they are sold because they are perishable, and spoilt ones may contaminate the ponds, and harm the fish. Frozen fish feed is prepared for tropical fish using natural feed that they would eat in the natural environment.

Best Fish Feed Brands in Nigeria

The best fish feed brands in Nigeria are;

  • Skretting
  • Blue Crown
  • Aller Aqua
  • Coppens
  • Vital
  • Chi
  • Ace
  • Aqualis
  • Ecofloat
  • TopFeeds

Starting Fish Farming Business in Nigeria

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Fish Farming in a Pond (Pic credit: pixabay)

In Nigeria, fish farming is a very lucrative business and you can be successful if you are determined and can employ the right strategies. The business plan showed that a good fish farmer in Nigeria can make a Return on Investment (ROI) of between 40 to 100% within a relatively short time.

For starting small scale fish farming or commercial fish farming in Nigeria, follow these steps to get started;

  • Firstly, get a good location for your fish farm
  • Get a good source of water
  • Choose the appropriate fish pond
  • Decide the right fish species for you
  • Get healthy fingerling or juveniles
  • Understand fish feeds and feeding
  • Start Marketing your fish before they grow-up
  • Get good and practical fish farming training

1. Write a business plan

It is a very crucial part of setting up your fish farming business and should be the first step. Writing a business plan mainly involves carrying out a feasibility study, documenting goals and objectives, and doing proper market research to know what is obtainable. In writing a fish farming business plan, the below information needs to be documented;

  • Executive Summary
  • Goals and Objectives
  • Products and Services
  • Location
  • Market Research and Strategy
  • SWOT Analysis
  • Financial Projection
  • Size
  • Possible business expansion

Fish farming is a knowledge-driven sector that needs adequate training to effectively function. Depending on the way you intend to operate, the fish farming business is beyond putting juveniles in water and feeding them. It needs some technical skills for you to get an optimal yield. Training will help you identify healthy fish, and prevent disease outbreaks, understand the type of medication, and the time of administration of the medication.

2. Register your business

After the business plan has been created, the next step is to register your farming business. By registering your fish farming business, you become one of the certified business owners in Nigeria and can enjoy every benefit tailored to registered businesses. Then, you will need to register with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), the agency in charge of business registration in Nigeria.

3. Get a suitable land or space

To engage in the fish farming business, you need to acquire, lease or rent farmland, land, or space. The beauty of the fish farming business is that it can be done in a small space through intensive farming techniques. Your land 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 reduce the cost of transporting your harvests to the market.

4. Arrange your source of water

Water is important to fish farming. Before getting the land or space, you must ensure that adequate water is available. Aquaculture needs a lot of water and you can sink a borehole, or use natural sources of water like rivers and streams. Also, it is possible to harvest a large volume of water during the rainy season for use in the dry season.

5. Determine the fish species you want to breed

There are several fish species around the world. All of those species are not suitable for farming according to the weather and climate conditions of Nigeria. That is why the most popular fish used in this business is the catfish. The catfish equally have other species so you might have to consult an expert to find which one would thrive well in your environment.

6. Choose the right fish feed

For successful fish farming in Nigeria, you have to feed the fish with good and nutritious supplementary fish feed. Also, you can use low-cost conventional or unconventional animal by-products and plant residue in fish feed.

7. Build the fish pond

There are several types of ponds available. At different stages, you will have to sort your fishes and then put fishes in different ponds according to their sizes. Also, you will have a separate pond for keeping sick and injured fishes. This is known as the quarantine pond. The pond must be covered with nets to guide against predators.

Catfish Farming in Nigeria

In Nigeria, catfish farming is the act of growing one of the diverse groups of ray-finned fish for commercial purposes. This involves building earthen and concrete ponds, stocking the fingernails or juveniles, and feeding the fish to market size.

Cages are used for catfish farming in Nigeria. The water bodies should contain freshwater. The main benefit of using cages for the rearing of fish is that you do not need to change the water as the flowing water replenishes the cage with fresh water. Also, the cage can be somewhat easier to manage than other methods of rearing catfish. Cages are easy to buy and placed in water bodies.

Feed for catfish – The traditional feed used for catfish farming in Nigeria is made with maize, wheat, rice bran, cornmeal, groundnut meal, and cottonseed meal, etc. Animal protein like fish meal and blood meal is the commonest source of protein for grow-out feeds for catfish farming in Nigeria. Catfish fed on feed with 34%-43% crude protein perform better than other catfish fed with different percentages of crude protein. Most of the packaged fish feed sold in Nigeria is imported into the country. Fish farmers in Nigeria have some concerns about using the locally produced fish feed.

Catfish usually ready for the market can be harvested with the use of hauling seines. The seine net comes in different sizes, and some can be very big while some can be small. Harvested catfish are sold per kilogram in Nigeria.

Political, Private Sector Actions and Marketing for Fish Farming in Nigeria

The government of Nigeria is interested in promoting nutrition-sensitive aquaculture, but programs remain resource-constrained. Though, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) are supporting the Ministry of Health, via the Scaling up Nutrition (SUN) Business Network, to assist small and medium enterprises to become more nutrition-sensitive. Then, this is part of Nigeria’s efforts to address the multiple burdens of malnutrition through the private sector, of which fisheries and aquaculture could play a large part. From the public sector perspective, fish for optimum nutrition can be communicated more clearly to the population, as Nigeria’s food-based dietary guidelines mention fish only briefly.

Marketing Opportunity for the Fish Business in Nigeria

The market opportunity for the fish farming business in Nigeria is huge. For example, Nigerians consume about 2 million tonnes of fish in a year. Also, the demand for fish far outweighs the current production. Therefore, selling your fish is never going to be a problem as long as awareness was created. It’s advised to start marketing before the fish is harvested. To create awareness, online space should be utilized well. Then, approach hotels, bars, café, public event organizers, and homes.

Commonly Asked Questions about Fish Farming in Nigeria

How much is fish feed in Nigeria?

Approximately the prices of 15 kg bags of Cafan Fourish Feed are 6,500 Naira for 4 mm pellets and 6,000 Naira for 6 to 8 mm pellets. Some local fish feed brands sell around 6,500 Naira, while the popular brands cost between 10,000 and 12,000.

What fish is common in Nigeria?

A variety of species are eaten in Nigeria, including crayfish, sardines (freshwater and saltwater), Bonga, and mackerel, as well as cultured fish species like tilapia, carp, and catfish.

How much is juvenile fish in Nigeria?

A 4 weeks old fingerling in Nigeria costs between N10 (Ten Naira) to N30 (Thirty Naira) depending on location. In the same way, 8 weeks (2 months) old Juvenile in Nigeria cost between N30 (Thirty Naira) to N50 (Fifty Naira) depending on locations.

How much fish does Nigeria import?

Most of the fish consumed in Nigeria is imported from foreign countries, reaching more than about 2 million tonnes annually.

Does Nigeria export fish?

Nigeria alone exports approximately 5 tonnes of smoked fish per month. Other major fish exporting countries are Ghana, the Ivory Coast, Senegal, and Cameroon.

How much cost to start a fish farm in Nigeria?

Setting up a fish farm needs more careful planning and much capital input. A small fish farm can take up to N500,000 to set up, while bigger ones take millions of naira.

Which is the best catfish feed in Nigeria?

Skretting is a popular fish feed brand in Nigeria with a production plant in Ibadan.

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