Fish farming in Nigeria

Image credit; Dosaraf Multtibiz Koncep

Have you ever thought about starting up a fish farming business in Nigeria?  Are you among the many Nigerians who thought of this business opportunity but yet doing nothing about it? Or are you among the set of people who believe that there is no income in setting up a fish farming business in Nigeria?

Whichever case you fall on, well, here is an informative article for you. No matter which type of fish spices you intend to setup, do not worry this is yet the right article for you.

When you thought of commercial fish farming, you know it’s an act of rearing fish for the aim of consumption. Now this business is quite popular all over the world and in Nigeria as well because a lot of people consume fishes more than they do to meat. And this is because it is believed that fish has a lot of nutritional values even though both meat and fishes gives protein.

As you want to startup this business, you might have a cold mind towards it because you believe a lot of people are into it already thus, it won’t yield much profit. Well I will like to quote you wrong because in Nigeria alone there are about millions of people who consume fish everyday so therefore its demand is extremely high. And this calls for an open market for it

Why you should set up your own fish farming in Nigeria

If you are still contemplating if you should engage in fish farming business or if you should set up your own fish business in Nigeria, here are more reason why you should se t up your own sooner.

Nutritional values of fish; as you know that most Nigeria food mostly comprises of carbohydrate aside the vegetables and other sources of protein. Most people look for a way to complement the regular balanced diet which makes them to seek or eat more fishes apart from beans and meat. Fish has so much nutritional value that will surely provide your body with the required nutrients. This includes;

  • Providing the body with vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids which aids in brain functioning, reduction of heart attacks, stroke.
  • Fish also helps in reducing the tendency of Alzheimer’s disease by thus increasing Grey matters.
  • Salmon fish has been said to aid in sleep improvement.
  • Fish also help children to have lower risk of developing asthma.
  • It also helps in the prevention and treatment of depression and other mental disorder such as bipolar.
  • Eating an adequate required amount of fish can help to reduce the risk of type 1 diabetes and several other autoimmune.
  • Eating fish can help to lower the risk of developing macular degeneration which causes vision impairment and blindness.

These nutritional values make people to consume more fishes by thus opening a huge market demand for it; where anyone interested with good business plan for it can setup this business to profit also.

Affordable capital; another reason why you should set up your fish farming business in Nigeria is because it’s cost effective. Its capital that is; its housing, fishing equipments, and feeds are not all that huge to purchase or setup so therefore the money can be saved up and borrowed from either from  friends, banks or personal savings or so.

Low rate of diseases;  another good reasons why you should set up a fish farming business is that unlike most animal, fish has a lower chance of diseases breakout if really managed well. Fish is not like most animals that suddenly spread flu or diseases without prior notice from them. If you manage and set up your fish farm in the right way, there won’t be any cost for alarm.

Having discussed the good reasons why you should set up a fish farming business in Nigeria, it will also be wise to discuss the few possible demerit of this business. But do not worry, if you follow the right step in setting up your fish farming business, there will be no or little damages.

Short comes in setting up a fish farming business in Nigeria.

Finding customers; the number one problem every producer does usually have in their business is finding the right customers which can be very hectic if not properly hardened well. You can gain customers by marketing the fishes to market women, companies, schools hotels etc or any other places you think people might have interest in it.  If your fishes are big and good enough, at time goes on; people will personally locate you.

Additional cost of feeding; this additional cost of fish feeds can be caused when your fishes over eat their budgeted feeds. To overcome this problem in your business, you should try to market your fishes prior or before to the harvesting period. If you waited to the exact harvesting period to market them, it will be an additional and unnecessary cost of feed which will cost low profit. So market them before them are due for harvesting. Another way to over comes this is to always measure the amount of feed that are given to them on a daily basics.

Having to compete with different type of fishes; another problem you would encounter is to deal with the customers’ preference for another species of fish. Well the best solution to solving this problem is to make an adequate market research on the type of fish that has the highest demands by this reducing the possible problem.

Issues of natural problems; we all know that we can’t struggle with nature when it intervenes. In fish farming, you might encounter problems during the heavy raining seasons. This can cause over flooding as a consequence, loss of fish to the flood. To solve this problem, when constructing the pond you have to make provision to prevent excess water inflow.

Like I wrote before you can overcome all the possible problems if you followed the adequate procedure. Let’s now quickly take a look at the types of fish we can farm.

Types of fishes you can farm in Nigeria

  1. Mackerel (Salmon); also known as ‘Titus’.  This is the most popular fish in Nigerian market but the most distressing thing there is that Mackerel is not farmed but are widely caught in their natural habitat. . Though this Fish are be wild caught but there are  some farmers  in Nigeria whom believe and  are considering the likelihood of creating a non-natural salty water that will be similar to sea water where mackerel grows and  can only survive. Though we can say for sure, but no that on earth nothing is impossible and it only takes a matter of trying it out. One can sample the possibility of this with it a few numbers fingerlings to know the possibility. Luckily you might get it right and this could be a major breakthrough. If you don’t want the stress of going into the samplings then you can move into farming the other fishes which has the history of been farmed.
  2. Cat Fish; although Catfish is not the most popular fish in Nigeria, this fish species is by far the most cultivated in Nigeria. The outstanding good thing about catfish is that it is one of the easiest fish species to farm and this could be because a lot of people have made a lot of testimony on how successful they are when ventured into it and this could also explain the reason why people obviously stream to the direction of this fish species because they find it to be the easy to cultivate.
  3. Tilapia; is another most popular fish in Nigeria’s aquaculture industry that can easily farmed. Tilapia is a fish species that lives in fresh shallow water. The major possible reason while Tilapia fish is very easy to farm and very popular in Nigerian market is that this fish reproduces very fast and grows fast too also by thus more possible profit.


Having discussed the merit, short comes and the type of fish been farmed in Nigeria, lets now look at the main more pressing topic which steps on how to setup this  business

Steps on how to setup a fish farming business in Nigeria;

  1. Set up a business plan; like I always state and always required from you; every good business should have a business plan of what the business should be about and comprises. A business can aid in loan collecting, and set by set on things need to do to improve your business or set it up. So please set up a business plan it is important.


  1. Having a knowledge of fish farming; knowledge is a good thing; thus it is very important and good you know everything about setting up a fish farming business and you reading this article is a good well also. Also you should meet available experts whom are good and experienced in this business to guide you through if possible and also try to attend seminars or training when there is a need for it.
  2. Three – four months feeding budget.

    It is important to ensure that you have a reliable supply of feed for the duration you grow your catfish. As of October, 2016 you need about two hundred thousand naira (N200, 000) to feed 1000 pieces of catfish from juvenile to table size in 15 weeks. Some brands of bagged floating catfish feed available in Lagos, Nigeria are Coppens and Vital feed which as of October, 2016 cost N11,500 and N5,800 per bag respectively. A bag holds 15kg of floating catfish feed.

     4. Land/purchasing of Land; the high advantage of purchasing land for your fish farming business is that you can buy or use land in any location be it at the back of your house, in your neighborhood, even within your compound and this is because fish does not brings odor like some livestock, it do not cause pollution and it also do not cause any disasters.

So therefore, you can purchase any type of land of your choose in any size. If you have enough capital, you can buy full or 2 plots of land but if otherwise, you can purchase a half plot of land for a start; moreover a half plot of land can accommodate an average number of fishes. Also if you don’t have money for purchasing a land, you can also lease it, there won’t be any loss here either.

You should also put in mind that when purchasing the land, make sure the land is in a secured environment and that it should be easy to assess for bringing of fish feeds and also for your buyers.

     5. Construction of Ponds; now you have your land available, it is now time for you to build your pond. To build your pond, you must get the service of an expert whom has done this before in order not to waste money.

There are different types of ponds;

 A levee-type pond; it’s usually designed through a flat area that has access to a well could be used.

A watershed pond; this is usually designed through steeper areas near a natural source of water like lake, river etc are to be used.

A concrete pond; you can also build a cemented or concrete pond where you can fix a pipe into it to fill up water.

A plastic tank, or a drum pond; for some people who prefer to use plastics tanks to farm their fish. Most people use this method as a beginner method and also if they do not have much capital.

    6.Getting your source of water; I believe we all know how important this is; because when you think of water, you think of fish. You have to make an available source of water for your                 fishes. You can start by constructing a borehole to get good water. Then get an overhead tank or standing tank for water storage to always provide good water for your fishes.7.Purchasing         7.the right fingerlings; you need to be very careful when purchasing this, you should buy a healthy fingerlings or juvenile from a good fisher farmer who knows what he or she is doing. You           should endeavour to buy high yield species of fish because it is the main sole or source of your fish framing business.

    8.Marketing your Fishes; Now your fishes are grown and matured it is now time to sell your fishes to the right buyers. You can go into hotels, markets, restaurants or supermarkets and                 market your fishes to them with an adequate sample. It is recommended that you should start marketing your fishes to available buyers earlier to avoid loss in your fish farming business in             Nigeria.



A fish pond is a confined body of water where fish are raised under controlled conditions. Fish can also be raised in plastics, fiber stars and wooden rafts. There are two main types of Pond. This can either be earthen pond or concrete pond.

Types of Pond and it Construction

  1.  Earthen Ponds: are artificial dams, reservoir, or lake constructed for different species of fishes in order to retain some features of the natural aquatic environment. Earthen ponds are created manually, or mechanically, in a carefully selected site with high water retention ability. Earthen ponds are constructed manually with the use of shovels and diggers. However, in recent times, the use of excavators to dig ponds has been on the increase. An excavator can dig a pond that ten men will ordinarily dig in five days within just ten hours. For commercial pond construction, the use of excavator is more cost effective than manual construction. It also saves time and can attain good depths in hours.
Earthen Pond Construction Design

Image Credit by NAFIS

Procedures of Building Earthen Pond

  • • Clearing of proposed site• Setting‐out which involves pegging and lining with the rope• Mark‐out the areas inlet and outlet• Topsoil removal and storage• Construction of embankment• Construction of inlet drainage pipes/ water control structures

    • Construction of screen at both inlet and outlet.

cross-section-of-a-completed earthen pond

Image Credit by NAFI



2.  Excavated Pond : Dugout or excavated ponds are constructed in areas of flat or gently sloping land not suited for ponds with dams. As the name implies, dug ponds are created by removing soil and allowing water to fill in the dugout area. Most of the water supply comes from ground water seepage or natural springs. Soils are usually made up of materials that allow free movement of water through the pond bottom.

Excavated Pond Construction

Image credit by Toprak

Construction of Dugout / Excavated Pond

  • Depth and slopes. Waterfowl and most other wetland wildlife species need shallow water. When filled with water, your dugout should be no more than 4 feet deep. In mid-summer, much of your dugout should be less than 3 feet deep.
  • Shoreline features. A pond that has an irregular shoreline and many points and bays is more attractive to waterfowl and most other wildlife than a dugout with a straight shoreline.
  • Size. Wildlife will use all sizes of wetland, but bigger is usually better. In building a pond for waterfowl, consider a minimum size of 2500 square feet (equal to a square with 50 foot long sides). Larger, irregularly shaped ponds are preferred.
  • Number and distribution. For nesting waterfowl, your dugout should be near an existing shallow marsh for brood-rearing purposes. If you have adequate space and funding, you can consider digging more than one dugout. In general, two closely spaced small dugouts will receive more use than one larger dugout. If you construct more than one pond, space them about 100 to 300 feet apart
  • Spoil. Excavating a pond means you end up with a lot of soil removed from the dugout; this is called “spoil”. When excavating in an existing wetland, remove the spoil from the wetland. Placing the spoil in the wetland can trigger the need for a permit. Check with the appropriate agencies (see list at end) to determine if you need a permit.
  • Islands. Dugouts are generally too small to include an island. Studies have shown that unless islands are 300 feet or more from shore, duck nests are almost certain to be destroyed by predators. As an alternative, use nest baskets, boxes or floating rafts for nesting. A floating log, anchored in place, provides an excellent site for waterfowl and turtle loafing.
  • Final treatment. In general, the clay and sand underlying most mineral soils are less fertile and may not support adequate plant growth. In order to establish a food chain in your dugout, it may be necessary to provide an organic base (your county soil and water conservation district can provide advice). If needed, this can be accomplished by spreading 4″-6″ of black topsoil over the entire excavated area. This can be the topsoil originally removed from the site when digging started. Another technique is to spread 2″-6″ of clean upland hay over the excavated surface.
  • tractor. a bulldozer or scraper is best for constructing ponds as they can be fairly precise in “sculpting” the landscape. A backhoe (power shovel) or excavator can do a good job, and a dragline can produce fair results. The nature of your project will likely determine to a large degree exactly which equipment is used. Use a dozer, scraper, or backhoe for dry sites. If it’s a wet site, a backhoe or dragline must be used. Minimize the disturbance to existing vegetation around the dugout or undesirable weed growth will be encouraged.

    Excavated Pond Construction

    Image Credit by Toprak



   3. Embankment ponds are more common in areas with moderate to steep sloping terrain. They are created by building a dam or embankment between two hillsides to collect and hold water from overland runoff. The pond bottom and dam must be made up of soils that prevents excess seepage. Embankment ponds should not be built by damming permanent flow streams, no matter what size they are. Small steams are a source for silt, sediment, debris, excess nutrients, and undesirable fish, all of which can degrade water quality and reduce chances of good fishing. Embankment ponds are the preferred type for large-scale catfish farming because they can be built in large contiguous tracts, which aids in pond management.

Embankment Rear Design

Image Credit by Toprak

Construction of Embankment Pond

  1.  Site Selection
  • Selecting a suitable site for your pond is important. Preliminary studies of any site are needed before making a final decision on a specific site. If you are considering more than one location, study each one in order to select the most practical and economical site on which to build.
  • For ponds where surface runoff is the main source of water, an ideal site would be one where an earthen dam could be constructed between two moderately steep slopes and where the reservoir is wide and flat. Avoid sites where the pond area would have large shallow areas. Such areas pose problems resulting in plant growth and evaporation losses.
  1.  Watershed Area
  • The size of a watershed, the area that drains into a pond, is very important in site selection.  Our rule of thumb is a pond/lake should have 6 acres of watershed area to 1 surface acre of pond/lake.
  • If the watershed is too large, you may have difficulty in preventing erosion and an expensive overflow structure will be needed to bypass excess runoff.
  • If the watershed is too small, runoff may not be adequate to fill and keep the pond full.
  • State laws do exist making the practice of diverting or changing a natural drainage course of water illegal.

​3.  Soils

  • The engineering characteristics of the soils present play a major role in the construction of a pond. Suitability depends upon the ability of the oils in the pond area to hold water.
  • Sites where the soils are fine-textured clays or silty clays that extend well below the proposed pond depth are desirable.
  • Sites where soils are course-textured sands and gravels are generally unsatisfactory.
  • Outcroppings of rock or limestone usually are poor locations due to cracks and seeps which permit water to escape.
  1.  Spillway Requirements
  • For most ponds, both a principal spillway and an emergency spillway are necessary.
  • The principal spillway generally is a type of drop inlet or hooded inlet structure used to help maintain a consistent water level in a pond.
  • Usually located at the end of fill, the emergency spillway allows water to flow freely through this bypass and not over the top of the dam.
  1.  Design
  • ​Pond designs usually consist of a profile of the dam, location and size of the spillways, and measurement that provide an accurate estimate of the pond capacity. It should include elevations, dimensions, earthwork estimates, and building materials required.

​​6.  Construction

  • The foundation of the dam is among the most important components of pond construction.
  • When placing the principal spillway through the fill, the materials around the pipe must be hand or mechanically tamped until it has 2ft of cover.
  • Soon after construction, vegetative cover should be established on bare areas to prevent erosion from occurring.
  • Complete fencing of areas on which embankment ponds are built is recommended if livestock graze or are fed in adjacent fields.

​7.  Sealing Your Pond

  • Excessive seepage of a pond is usually due to a poor pond site or improper construction techniques. Methods available for sealing leaky ponds include: Bentonite, Chemical treatments, Waterproof liners. ​

​8.  Aeration & Algae

  • Aeration systems can help reduce algae growth and improve water quality for the aquatic wildlife.


4. Concrete Pond: are the strongest type of pond. If you get the construction right first time your pond will last for many years. Concrete ponds are strong enough to support any design or shape and being so strong means there is no restriction on suitable sites in your garden

1.  Clear your selected site (where necessary)

2.  Peg out the desired size (say 5m x 2m x 1.5m medium sized pool) or according to designed size and buy nylon    twine or rope to demarcate the pegged area.

3.  Excavate your pond soil into the ground by two coaches of block deep and remove the excavated soil into the center of the pool.

4.  Blind the floor with cement / sand mix at ½ inch thick.

5.  Floor your pond bed with a good “German floor” mixture of cement, sand gravel and in the ratio 1:2:4 to produce an impervious bed with a thickness 1.5cm (3inch) to 10cm (4 inches).

6.  SLOPE the floor of your pond by two percent towards the lower side for easy drainage

7.  PLUMBING: You should lay 1¼ to 2 inch diameter draining pipe closed with a gate valve and erect a 4 inch diameter perforated pressure plastics pipe which will prevent fish from escaping and at the same time will not get clogged.

8.  Wall: Erect your block walls along the four sides of the pond using 9-inch blocks. Don’t forget to fill the hollow part with concrete as each layer of block is layed. Your pond walls should extend about 60cm (3ft) above the ground level a total pond depth of 120cm (4ft).

9.  Overflow: Additional one coach of blocks should be built round the perimeter and a 2 inches overflow pipe should be install and screened.

10. Plaster: The inner walls of the pond as well as the outer 2ft above the ground level should be plastered with a good thick layer of cement and sand mix in the ratio of 1 bag of cement to 6 head pans of sand or use waterproof cement and mix in the ratio: 2 head pans of sand, plus one bag of cement. 2kg waterproof and allow the mixture to dry slowly by using raffia or jute bags to cover it while also wetting twice daily for 7 days under a shade or cool atmosphere.

Embankment Pond Design

Diseases Parasites and Predators

Bacterial Infections: Inactivity, loss of color, frayed fins, bloated body, cloudy eyes, open sores, abscesses, red streaks throughout body, reddening or inflammation of the skin, fins or internal organs, bulging eyes, difficulty breathing.

Fungal Infections (often secondary to another type of illness):Erratic swimming, darting, scratching, visible cotton-like tufts on skin, eyes, or mouth.

Parasitic Infections: Inactivity, loss of appetite, excess mucus or film on body, visible spots or worms, rapid breathing, scratching.

Symptoms Diagnosis Treatment
Grayish-white film on skin, damaged fins, ulcers, yellow to gray patches on gills, tissue on head may be eaten away. Columnaris (Cotton Wool Disease) Must be treated immediately with Over-the-counter antibiotic medications. Very contagious disinfect tank, rocks, net, etc.
Swelling of head, bulging eyes. Corneybacteriosis OTC antibiotics such as penicillin and tetracycline.
Swelling of abdomen, raised scales around swollen area. Dropsy (Malawi Bloat) may be caused by internal bacterial infection (if swelling is sudden), parasites, or cancer (if swelling is gradual). Add 1/8 teaspoon of Epsom salt for every 5 gallons of water and monitor for two weeks. Check for signs of bacterial infection or parasites for further treatment.
Ragged or decaying fins. Finrot Check pH and correct as needed. If level is normal, use OTC antibiotic for fin or tail rot.
Inactivity, loss of color or appetite, weight loss, skin defects. Fish Tuberculosis Human strength TB medication may help in early stages. Contagious disinfect tank, rocks, net, etc. to prevent transmission. Wash hands and surfaces well.
Erratic swimming, bloating or swelling in body, black patches on body or fins. Myxobacteriosis — rare Medications, if any, are difficult to come by. Keep up on water maintenance to prevent it.
Sluggishness, lack of appetite, fin damage, reddish discoloration, bulging eyes, clamped fins Septicemia Antibiotic treatment in food form is required.
White or gray fungus on eyes. Cataracts OTC medication for fungus.
White or gray patches resembling cotton, excess mucus. Mouth or Body Fungus OTC medication for fungus. Usually added to water, but may need direct application.
White cotton-like patches on fins, body, or mouth. True Fungus (Saprolegnia) OTC medication for fungus. Check for symptoms of other illnesses.
Small string-like worms visible on fish, or burrowed in skin. Anchor Worm Over-the-counter medication for parasites.
Bluish-white film on body, strained breathing caused by gill damage, peeling skin. Chilodonella Salt treatment (see below).
Weight loss, strained breathing. Copepods OTC medication for parasites, also fungal treatment for possible secondary infection on damaged gills
White film, reddened areas on body, abnormal swimming, scratching, folded fins. Costia (Slime Disease) Must be treated quickly. Raise water temperature and use OTC medication for parasites. Salt treatment may work, as well.
Weight loss, abnormal swimming, generally looks very ill. Will accompany or follow leech infestation. Blood Flagellates (Sleeping Sickness) rare Salt treatment can be used to kill leeches, but may not cure flagellates.
Sluggishness, flashing, spider web lesions on skin, color loss, reddened fins, drooping fins, fin damage. Skin Flukes (Gyrodactylus) OTC medication for parasites
Lack of appetite, weight loss, small holes or eroding pits appearing in the head. Hole in Head Disease (Hexamita) more common in cichlids OTC medication for Hole in Head Disease.
Scratching, white salt-like spots starting on head and spreading over whole body, rapid breathing, cloudiness on eyes or fins. Ich (Ichtyophthirius) very common OTC medication for Ich or Ick.
Scratching, small worms hanging from body. Leech Salt treatment or OTC medication for parasites.
Scratching, green to brown lice (up to inch) visible on skin. Lice OTC treatment for parasites.
Erratic swimming, weight loss, loss of color. Neon Tetra Disease mostly affects tetras, danios, and barbs Treatment is difficult look for a medication that treats gram-negative bacteria or with nalidixic acid as the active ingredient.
Darting, scratching, small yellow to white spots dusting skin. Oodinium OTC treatment for parasites.
Cloudy appearance on skin, red patches on skin where parasite has bitten. Trichodina — predominately freshwater Salt treatment.
Red or bloody gills, gasping for air. Ammonia Poisoning No treatment. Regular water testing and maintenance will prevent it.
Small dark spots on fins and body. Black Spot OTC medication for parasites. Spots (cysts) may remain after treatment.
Cloudy white appearance to one or both eyes. Cloudy Eye Check for symptoms of another illness like velvet, ich, or tuberculosis. Treat with OTC medication.
String of feces hanging from fish, swollen abdomen, sluggishness, disinterest in food, off-balance swimming. Constipation Stop feeding for 2-3 days and continue with a more varied diet including live and plant-based foods.
Small white spots that get larger over time possibly with black streaks. Fish Pox No treatment. Keep up on water maintenance and symptoms should cease after about 10-12 weeks.
Difficulty swimming, swimming upside-down, floating, unable to surface. Do not confuse with swim bladder disease. Flipover Air can be removed from swim bladder by a veterinarian. Surgery is also a possibility in larger fish. Check for signs of internal infection or parasites and treat as necessary.
Reddening on or under skin, sudden abnormal behavior. Inflammation OTC antibiotic treatment.
Unusally bulging of one or both eyes. Pop-eye (Exophthalmia) OTC medication for bacterial infections and/or parasites. Check for other symptoms of bacterial or parasitic infections.
Fish struggles to swim, may float with head tipped down, or have difficulty surfacing, no balance, etc. May occur after eating. Swim Bladder Disease Stop feeding for 3-4 days. If symptoms persist, feed the affected fish a small amount of fresh spinach or a green pea without the skin (laxatives).
Swelling or distention for internal tumors, external can be seen growing on skin. Tumors Usually incurable. Consult a veterinarian about potassium iodide treatment for thyroid tumors.
Sluggishness, lack of appetite, open sores with red edges, possible fin rot. Ulcers OTC medication for bacterial infections.
Scratching, small gold to white spots, loss of color, weight loss, difficulty breathing due to gill damage. Velvet (Gold Dust Disease) OTC medication for parasites.