Best Fish Species to Start a Fish Farm in Nigeria

Fish species in Nigeria

So you have made up your mind to start fish farming in Nigeria, but you’re not sure which species of fish you will go for.

Well, you’re welcome to my world.

In this post, you’ll learn about common species of fish that are farmed profitably all over the world with special emphasis on the species of fish you can easily farm for profit in Nigeria

First, let’s start with the world of fish in their natural habitat.

Species of Fish in Rivers/Ocean

Attempting to name all the species of fish in Rivers and Oceans across the world is as difficult as trying to count the stars at night (a little exaggeration, but you get the point)

According to the National Park Service, biologists have so far named more than 30,000 species of fish in the world’s rivers and oceans.

The rainbow trout,  bluefish, largemouth bass, brown trout,  Atlantic salmon, barramundi, bowfin, bluegill, common barbe,  swellfish, Red Lionfish, The candiru, (Vandellia cirrhosa), The white shark (Carcharodon carcharias), Moray Eel, Tigerfish, Piranha, the list could fill this entire blog post.

These thousands of fish vary from those who can never grow enough to have enough meat to be worth the stress of a fish farming business, to those who are toxic and poisonous for humans, to those who can’t easily adapt to artificial farming or Nigeria’s temperature, then to those who can kill you (Mr. Sharks, Tigerfish, Dolphin, etc.)

In any case, scientists classify fish into two major groups: the jawless (Agnatha) fishes and the jawed (Gnathastomata) fishes

Fish Species Profitable for Fish Farming all Around the World

Among over 30,000 species of fish in their natural habitat, probably less than 20 are viable species of fish that are commonly grown artificially around the world.

We’ll look at 9 of them in this post while two of those nine are perfect for Nigeria climate and market

These species are common because they are easily manageable, convert a good percentage of food to their body weight or can cope with various climate conditions.

  1. Tuna
  2. Cod
  3. Eel
  4. Salmon
  5. Grass carp
  6. Rohu
  7. Silver carp
  8. Catfish
  9. Tilapia

Tuna fish farming

Tuna is a saltwater carnivorous fish that has commercial importance in farming. The largest consumer of tuna fish in the world is Japan.

It’s not so convenient to rear tuna fish because they are big and agile, and it’s not easy to replicate their natural habitat in an artificial pond.

Most of the tuna consumed is either caught in the wild sea or from net ponds constructed in the sea (offshore) where they live naturally.

The species of tuna fish include blackfin tuna, Atlantic bluefin tuna, albacore tuna, yellowfin tuna, etc.

Advantages of tuna fish farming

Apart from serving as a source of income for the fish farmer, rearing tuna provides the benefits of tuna fish meat.

The meat from tuna fish is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, which regulate the presence of cholesterol in the human body.

It also contains essential vitamins such as vitamin C and vitamin D, which are energy and immune system boosters.

Tuna fish meat also contains minerals like zinc and manganese that enhance the metabolic functioning of the body.

Eating tuna can protect you from cancer.

Cod fishing

Cod farming is another form of fish farming with commercial significance.

Cod is a common name given to fish that live and feed close to or on the ocean floor.

They are also called groundfish.

Out of the species of cod fish that exist, two are the most common: Pacific cod, which naturally inhabits the eastern and western parts of the northern Pacific, and Atlantic cod, which is found in the Northern Atlantic region.

Codfish farming was first started in the 1880s by G.M. Danneving, a sea captain from Norway.

A codfish can gain up to 2–4 kg of weight between 24 and 36 months after hatching.

At this size, it is ready for sale. Atlantic cod can reach a weight of 5–12 kg.

It spawns between January and April.

Advantages of cod fish farming

One major advantage derived from codfish farming is that it produces the raw material for the production of cod liver oil.

Cod liver oil is obtained by processing the liver of cod fish. Consumption of cod liver oil enriches the body with vitamins A, D, and E.

Cod liver oil is also a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids.

Eel fish farming

The eel fish is another carnivorous fish species that is being artificially farmed.

You will identify it by its snake-like body that is slippery and scaleless.

Eels spend most of their lives in freshwater, only swimming in the sea when it’s time to breed.

After the adult has spawned, it dies.

The eggs hatch and the larvae are formed.

These larvae metamorphose into glass eels as they migrate toward the mainland.

The eel fish has types such as American eel, Japanese eel, European eel, etc. The Japanese are the biggest farmers of eel fish.

It is quite difficult to farm eels, mainly because the fingerlings needed to start eel farming on a commercial scale must be sourced from the wild.

Trying to use captive spawning to raise the juveniles is not easy.

Advantages of eel fish farming

Eel fish farming has become so lucrative that farmers who decide to go into it will be venturing into a $1 billion market sector.

Eel’s delicious flavor has won the hearts of many people in different countries.

Salmon fish farming

Also known as “Titus” in Nigeria, the salmon fish is both carnivorous (eats other fish) and anadromous (lives in both freshwater and saltwater).

When the eggs hatch in freshwater, the fish grow to adulthood before migrating to the oceans.

After they reproduce, they will return to fresh water.

It is said to be the most expensive fish in Nigeria right now, perhaps because it takes a long time (two years) to reach maturity, right from when the eggs hatch.

Salmons that are grown on farms gain their nutrients mostly from fishmeal. However, this leads to a depletion of fish species like herring, sardines, anchovies, and whiting, which are used as raw materials in the production of fishmeal.

Salmons have to eat fish that are up to four times their body weight to grow properly.

Commercially, raising salmons is done using the open-net cage system constructed along the coasts of the ocean.

If you want to grow salmon in ponds, you need to introduce the fingerlings and the water from their natural habitat into your ponds to create an environment similar to its home.

Advantages of salmon farming

Salmon is called a superfood because it contains a good amount of omega-3 fatty acids. It also contains vitamins like B2 and B12, as well as other essential minerals.

Carp fish farming

Among the most common farmed ornamental fish in the world, carp is of them. 

Carp fish thrive better in freshwater in the tropics than in temperate regions, which is why carp farming does well in Nigeria.

In the tropics, carp can spawn four times a year, while in temperate regions, it spawns once a year.

The period from when the eggs hatch to when the fingerlings are formed is about one month.

Advantages of carp farming

Carp farming is economically viable for Nigerian fish farmers. Aside from that, carp has nutritional benefits.

Carp contains omega-3 fatty acids in high amounts.  It ensures the heart is protected.

The zinc content of carp fish helps to improve the immune system of humans.

Rohu Fish

Rohu (also known as Rui, Ruee, or Tapra) is a fish specie common in India and Southeast Asia

Farmed and famous in Asia, Rohu is usually served as fried fish at Indian celebrations.

But (unfortunately) this isn’t one of the fishes you can raise in Nigeria.

Silver Carp

Silver carp is a freshwater cyprinid fish species.

Also a native of Asia, China, and eastern Siberia.

By its weight, more silver carp fish are produced worldwide in aquaculture than any other species of fish, except the grass carp fish.

But again, Silver Carp can’t be raised profitably in Nigeria.

At this point, we’ll move on to the fish species that you can profitably raise for fish farming in Nigeria

Catfish farming

Catfish farming is by far the most common fish farming in Nigeria.

It is named “Catfish” because of the whiskers it possesses on the sides of its mouth.

Catfish are typically black and have a big, flat head and a long, slender, slimy body covered in mucus.

There are about 2500 species of catfish in the world.

Advantages of catfish farming

Catfish is good for the fish business in Nigeria because it can adapt to any environment and it prefers a warm climate.

Its ability to breathe air makes it possible for it to thrive in water with low oxygen content.

A high density of up to 400 kg/m³ is not a threat to catfish.

Catfish can be reared in either earthen ponds or tanks.

It is widely grown due to its high market demand and nutritional value.

It grows very quickly and can be harvested when it reaches market size (between 1 and 1.5 kg) at 6–8 months of age.

This makes it a very good choice for business.

Raising catfish is economical because it can eat almost anything edible you feed it. However, since you’re growing it as a business and you want to make a profit, you need to feed it with the right food so that it will grow properly.

Common species of catfish in Nigeria

In Nigeria, the following four species of catfish are commonly grown: Heterobranchus bidorsalis, Clarias gariepinus, Clarias nigro-digitatus, and Heterobranchus hybrid (Heteroclarias).

Of the four, Clarias spp. is most common in the western part of Nigeria, while Heterobranchus sp. dominates the southeast.

  • Heterobranchus Bidorsalis

The Heterobranchus species of catfish can thrive in any environment, even unfavorable ones.

In two weeks, the fingerlings of this species can grow to maturity and be ready for consumption, all conditions being equal.

It best suits the African market.

  • Clarias gariepinus

The Clarias gariepinus species is advantageous for fish farming because it can adapt to severe environmental conditions; it grows fast and doesn’t die much.

Its ruggedness makes it suitable for fish farming businesses in Nigeria and Africa in general.

  • Heterobranchus Hybrid

This species was created by crossing the Clarias gariepinus and Heteroblanchus longifilis species.

It is the best breed of catfish for farming in Nigeria due to its capacity to thrive under stressed conditions, its resistance to diseases, its fast-paced growth rate, and its very low mortality rate.

  • Clarias Nigrodigitatus

Clarias Nigrodigitatus is highly valuable both economically and as a source of food in Africa.

Raising this species of catfish is viable for fish farming due to its strong nature.

Tilapia fish farming in Nigeria

Tilapia is another species of fish that is grown in Nigeria for income generation.

25 species of tilapia fish exist in Nigeria, but only about six of them are raised artificially in farms. They are:

  • Tilapia Guineensis
  • Tilapia zillii
  • Sarotherodon melanotheron
  • Sarotherodon galilaeus,
  • Oreochromis aureus and
  • Oreochromis niloticus.

The juveniles of Tilapia guineensis and Tilapia zillii feed on plankton, while the adults feed on higher plants.

For Sarotherodon Melanotheron and Sarotherodon galilaeus, their juveniles feed on plankton while adults feed on phytoplankton.

The juveniles of Oreochromis aureus feed on zooplankton, while the adults are omnivores.

Oreochromis niloticus is an omnivore, but it feeds only on algae.


If you’re planning to start a fish farming business in Nigeria, you can visit one of our associate farms for practical training on the farm.

We have associate farms in about 20 states of Nigeria.

Join one of our farms for practical fish farming training or consultancy here

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