You asked for this, and I am delighted to respond. Here is your guide to launching your dream catfish business. I might not answer all of the questions in your mind but I will do my best to provide you with basic knowledge and informations on how you can go about your fish farming business and if you need more help you will be directed on how and where to get the best help having been provided with foundational guide to your successful catfish farming.
Let me quickly mention here that there are 2 main production system in catfish production:
1. The Fingerlings production(Breeding).
2. The Grow-Out Production(Table-size).
Fingerlings Production: This is the production of ‘baby fish’ through the artificial method in the hatchery. This could either be on a small, medium or large scale. Relatively, little space is required to run a successful hatchery unlike its contemporary table-size, but a lot of expertise is involved. You need a qualified, trained and experienced person(breeder) to put you through; there is no short-cut to learning this aspect of production. Study materials, videos can only aid and support you but are not enough knowledge for better performance. I will write a concise report on this system of production soon. Check here for a document on fingerlings production http://www.fao.org/docrep/field/003/ac182e/ac182e03.htm
Grow-Out Production: This is the rearing of fish from fingerlings to table-size. Fish are sold at the end of a culture period, usually, between 3-6months and above depending on your target market(smoking size or 1kg and above). The sizes usually ranges from 450gram – 2kg and above. Grow-out is simple and anyone can venture into it if the requirements are met.
Here are few steps you can take for a successful grow-out experience:
1. Start small: I usually advise people not to despise the days of little beginning. Even if you have all the financial muscles I would still advise you start small. My popular way of saying this is ‘grow up and you will stay up’. If you jump up, there is every possibilities you will fall. Quite a number of people have ran into the business and have ran out through the another door. Tis is my desire that you succeed in this enterprise and thus my sincere advise. Start something small wherever you are now while you project a larger future, by doing this you will gain firsthand experience that cannot be taking from you.
2. Can you take a little time to learn? The fact that you are reading this shows you are eager and ready to learn. My advice is to go some step further in your learning process. The internet is littered with informations on catfish production that I believe can help your understanding. Take a walk to existing farms to ask questions, learn from their mistakes and improve on their success where necessary. Don’t make the same mistakes others have conquered. This business is worth investing a bit of your time to learning. Do not learn the other way round.
3. You need a good water source. By water source I mean in quantity and quality. Fish life can be summed up in one word; Water. We have different sources, the common ones being well water and borehole water. Water is the most critical factor for a successful catfish farming. You need a water source that you can depend on all-year round. I cannot over emphasize the importance of quantity and quality water to successful fish farm.
4. Count Your Cost: Just as you will never embark on a building project without knowing how much it will cost you. You need to know how much feeding is required for your desired nos of fish and to a desired size. Feeding alone takes about 75% of the operation cost of any livestock business. Fish business isn’t an exemption also. Take time to ‘economize’; consider various low cost options at feeding your fish. There are many of such options to choose from. Do not plan on ‘Hope’, it is a bad strategy. Start base on your available financial resources and stick to the plan. For example, you will need about $860 worth of imported feeds to raise 500 pieces of catfish to 1kg and above each. You will spend less than this if you are considering ‘smoking size’ for the same nos of fish. Note please: This calculation is based on 1:1 feed conversion ratio ( this is for a particular brand of feed that I cannot mention here, other brands of feed have their conversion ratio) administered under an ideal condition.
5. Quality Matters: Yes! The quality of fish you intend stocking matters a lot. You may administer all the feeds in the world, if the quality of the fish seed stocked isn’t right then nothing is right. Here is another critical factor to consider when starting a fish farm. You need the right breeder to choose from.
To be continue…
…maximizing your catfish experiences