Fish HubKnowledge HubWebinar Series

The Basics of Catfish Farming in Nigeria

February 2020 online training session was the first of its kind for us at Afrimash as we had two facilitators to train us on The Basics of Catfish Farming in Nigeria.

The training was detailed with important modules which include ;

  1. Introduction to Catfish Farming.
  2. Rearing Facilities in Catfish Farming.
  3. Catfish Breeding.
  4. Feeding and Feed Formulation.
  5. Harvesting techniques.
  6. Processing and Value Addition.
  7. Marketing.

But before we go into the details of the training modules, let us introduce each of the facilitators.

Facilitator: ADE-DANIEL (Adebanjo Olatunji Daniel)

ADE-DANIEL is an Agribusiness Manager and Consultant. He is the C.E.O of Agrotrends Nigeria Integrated Services, an agri-tech company based in Nigeria with clients across Africa.
He has undergone a series of practical agricultural training some of which include; FADAMA GUYS World Bank-sponsored training at the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, and Fresh Organic Farms training on 30 various agricultural enterprises.

He is also a trained Entrepreneur by Fate Foundation through the Next Economy project in partnership with SOS, Netherlands. He is currently the state president of Ogun state FADAMA GUYS (Graduate Youth & Women in Agriculture).

Also, Ade-Daniel has managed both corporate and grassroots organizations including; Agbado Fadama Youth as Deputy Coordinator, Fabet Global Resources Ltd as the Head Director and a Volunteer at Kayode Alabi Leadership & Career Initiative, a United Nations-recognised NGO, on effective implementation of the SDGs goal.

Ade-Daniel has trained over 500 youths within his immediate community on agriculture.
Also, he has trained 150 top income earners willing to diversify into agriculture and has supported about 100 young Agric entrepreneurs to startup their agribusinesses. He has also facilitated about 30 Agric produce sales transactions and he is currently leading a campaign towards youth involvement in agriculture in his state & region.

Mr. Ade-Daniel trained us on Introduction to Catfish Farming, Rearing Facilities in Catfish Farming and Catfish Breeding, using the following highlights;

  1. Why Fish Farming?
  2. Catfish Systems.
  3. Basic Requirements in Catfish Production.
  4. Catfish Value Chain and Phases of Production.
  5. Pond Setup.
  6. Catfish Breeding.
  7. Feeding Module.
  8. Sorting.

Why Fish Farming?

Fish farming is the fastest-growing animal husbandry industry in Nigeria and many parts of the world. In most parts of Africa, the most cultured species is Tilapia and Catfish.

In Nigeria, the demand for fish is 2.66 million metric tonnes and only 1.4 million metric tonnes is available of which the country imports over 500 000 mt annually.

However, our focus tonight will be on Catfish as it is the easiest fish species to raise commercially by every startup.

Catfish Systems

There major systems of rearing catfish include;

  • Recycling system.
  • Flow-through.
  • Floating cage system.
  • Earthen pond.
  • Concrete and Tarpaulin pond/Household system.

Basics Requirements in Catfish Production

The requirements for rearing African catfish include;

  • Water: high quality, non-polluted water supply.
  • Good Parent Stock/Broodstock: selected broodfish of known origin for fast growth.
  • Water chemistry monitoring/test-kits.
  • Management: be a good manager of a management plan.
  • Recordkeeping.
  • Business plan.
  • Marketing strategy.

However, out of all the basic requirements, the most important is Water. Catfish can survive more than 7 days without eating, but cannot survive in bad water with poor oxygen for 30 minutes.

That our water is looking clean does not mean the water is healthy. That is why it is important to do your water test to protect your fish water from being contaminated.

Catfish Value Chain and Phases of Production

Catfish has several stages of production, namely;

  • Hatchery: this is the stage at which we collect eggs and sperm from the broodstock to hatch new fishes called Fries.
  • Fingerling Production: This is the raising of catfish nursery from fries to fingerlings (usually 6 weeks).
  • Melange Production: This is the raising of catfish from fingerlings to three months in which the fish will be at an average weight size of 300-400g. At this stage, it is called mélange.
  • Table Size Production: It is the raising of catfish from fingerlings to an average weight size of 500–700g, usually from 4 to 5 months from fingerlings.
  • Grow-out stage: This is the raising of catfish from fingerlings to an average size of 1kg upward. At this stage, the fishes are in their bigger sizes.
  • Broodstock Production: This is the raising of catfish for the specific purpose of becoming a parent stock for the hatchery. They are raised for one year plus.
  • Processed Catfish: This is the aspect of processing catfish through the smoking kiln for human consumption. It is the addition of value to the fish.

Pond Setup

As mentioned earlier, there are various pond systems of rearing catfish. However, the most common types used in Nigeria and easy to control are;

You choose your pond system based on the phase of production you want to focus on as each type of pond system performs better under different production phases. For instance, you can’t do hatchery in an earthen pond. Likewise, growth production is suitable in an earthen pond.

Also, you will need expert advice when choosing your pond as there are other factors needed to be considered but are peculiar to every individual.

Setting up the ponds is not difficult. The volume of space you have available will determine the method and cost of your pond construction.

Catfish Breeding

  1. Water: Having selected your water source either through borehole or stream, ensure the water is regularly available and not being polluted from the source. Change your water as often as possible. Within 24-48 hours interval, based on the production phase you are involved in.
  2. Feeding: Catfish feed can either be imported or locally produced. We have various imported and local feeds in the market. Fish feeds are in pellets ranging from 0.1 mm to 9 mm in size.
    Fingerlings eat 2 mm
    Melange 4-6 mm
    Table size 6 mm
    Grow out 9 mm

New Aller Aqua feeding chart required for 1000 post fingerlings to table-size (4 months and one week)
1.3 mm 3 kg 7 days
2 mm 2 bags 14 days
3 mm 4 bags 16 days
4.5 mm 11 bags 30 days
6 mm 20 bags 40 days
8 mm 30 bags 20 days
Total: 67 bags+3 kg of 1.3 mm(starter pack feed)
Average weight:1.4 kg

Above is a sample feed chart by a Fish feed company.

Sorting

This is the act of separating fishes into categories of their various physical growth.

The dynamic aspect about fish is that the same fish of same age, birth origin, feed and same pond may not grow at the same rate. One might be very big while the other very small.

This is why sorting is important, to separate big fish from the small fish and put them into separate ponds. If not done, the bigger fish may eat the smaller fish or prevent them from eating well.

Facilitator: Abdullahi Abdulmalik

Abdullahi Abdulmalik is a Fisheries graduate from the University of Ilorin, He is the CEO of Aqualique enterprise.

Mr. Abdulmalik trained us on Catfish Feed and Feed Formulation, Harvesting Techniques, Processing, and Marketing, using the following highlights;

1. Feeds.
2. Feed Formulation.
3 Feeding.
3. Harvesting.
4. Processing/Preservation.
5. Marketing.

Feeds

Feeds and feeding in catfish farming is an important aspect that must be understood properly in order to achieve the optimum result of your investment, but first what is a feed?

Feed or fish feed is anything capable of being eaten, digested and utilised for growth and development of the body tissue. It contains nutrients such as protein, minerals, carbohydrate, fat and oil, vitamins and water. Literally, as we humans need balanced diet food to grow and glow, the same is true for fish.

Fish feeds and feeding are so important that it takes about 60-70% of the total production cost, therefore, if we can handle our feeds and feeding well, surely we are going to break even and make a profit. Catfish like to eat very early in the morning and evening. Do not feed them expired or mouldy feed.

The ability of fish to attain certain weight at a particular period of time depends mainly on feeding, stocking 1001 number of baby fish (fingerlings) is not hard since they are cheap to buy but the ability and capability to feed them with good feeds at the right time and appropriately till maturity is a thing we should never joke with.

The feed to be used must be cheap and also should make the fish grow quickly, with the right quantity at the lowest possible cost.

Types of Feeds

  • Floating Feed: is water-stable. This means it does not sink but is often expensive. It allows the farmer to see the response of fish to the feed. This type of feed is in different sizes ranging from 0.2-6.5 mm, depending on the size and age of the fish.
  • Sinking Feed: it is generally referred to as local sinking pellet, not as expensive as the floating feed. It easily dissolves in water, and it is also cheap.
  • Supplementary Feed: it includes maggot, poultry waste, fish offal, brewery waste, etc. It is used to supplement the main feeds. It can be given at any period of the day, it helps to prevent cannibalism.

NB:
Fish feeds must be stored in a cool dry place. Wet food such as maggot, fish offal/ poultry waste must be refrigerated or should be processed by boiling or by sun-drying to reduce the moisture content. This will inhibit the growth of spoilage microbes.

Also, try not to mix floating and sinking feed together. And when changing fish feeds from floating to sinking, use 70:30 i.e 70% of new feed and 30% of the old feed. Economically it is not advisable or wise, to use floating feed throughout the rearing period but rather change the feed to sinking when the fish reaches the post-juvenile stage.

Major Feed Ingredients in Fish Feed

1. Conventional.

  • Maize meal.
  • Soybean meal.
  • Groundnut cake meal.
  • Blood meal.
  • Vitamin and mineral premix.
  • Bone meal.
  • Oyster shell.

2. Non-conventional.

  • Cassava rubber.
  • Offal.
  • Hatchery waste.

Feed Formulation

Feed formulation is the combination of two or more ingredients with known chemical composition to meet the nutrient requirements (needs) of fish at a particular stage of production.

Methods of feed formulation.

  • Pearson square method.
  • Trail and error method.
  • Computer method.

NB:
Check your formula (feed formulation) before going to the feed mill.
Be sure that the ingredients are weighed correctly in your presence.
Check the ingredients properly whether they are not mouldy, infested, or stale.
Reject infested feed ingredients.
Do not leave your feed with the feed miller.
Use clean sacks for your feed.

Feeding

Fish could be fed twice or thrice in a day. Fish should be given feed in the morning and evening. The farmer should be consistent and stick to a particular time of feeding.

NB:
Do not feed when the weather is hot.
Avoid improper storage of feed.
Do not feed the fish with dung, excreta or faeces
Do not overfeed or underfeed your fish.
Feed at regular time.

Harvesting

Harvesting is done when your fish reaches maturity or has reached your desired size or stage. This can be Fingerling, Juvenile, Jumbo, Smokeable or Table size

Harvesting techniques can either be Partial harvesting or Total harvesting.

Partial harvesting is done during sampling or if there is a need to check the health status of a fish, for lab analysis, or during treatment. The water is not totally drained and not all the fish will be harvested.

Total harvesting is done when the farmer wants to sell or transfer the fish from a pond to another pond or tank. Here, the water will be completely drained and all the fish will be harvested.

There are different types of equipment used in fish farming, but harvesting equipment in fish farming is known as fishing gear. Examples are Dragnet, Cast net, Scoop net, Hook and line etc. It is advisable to harvest only during the cool period of the day.

Fishing gear that will injure the fish should not be used e.g cast net, hook line, set net spear arrow and the likes. Do not keep harvested fish under the sun, heap the fish, or transport harvested fish during hot weather.

Processing/Preservation

Fish processing/smoking is also known as fish preservation. It is the mechanism used in increasing the shelf life of the fish. It is highly perishable as it has over 60% moisture content. It tends to spoil immediately after death when not processed or preserved.

Fish can be preserved by adding salt (2-3kg) to 1kg of fish in an airtight container or iced, or refrigerated.

Also, fish can be processed into Smoked fish, Canned fish, Sun-dried fish etc

The smoked fish business is one of the most lucrative business in Nigeria. Even if you do not know how to hatch fish seed or have a pond, you can still venture into fish smoking business with just a little start-up capital. It is highly lucrative.

Marketing

As of today, the demand for fish and fish products surpasses its supply. Almost everybody eats fish either dried or fresh, compared to other products such as pork and beef that are being affected by religious and medical constraints, respectively.

Fish has Omega-3 Fatty Acids, which is highly essential to the body and it can be sold to people of every kind in hotels, churches, at conferences, meetings, banks, individual door-to-door delivery etc

QUESTIONS/COMMENTS

Question: “Good evening all. What is the difference between Clarias and hetero breeds of catfish? Which of them grows faster? Which of them is more carnivorous?” – Ahmad
Response: “Heterobranchus Female grows bigger than Clarias. If the two are used to crossbreed each other, it gives hybrid fingerlings which grow bigger within a short while. Heterobranchus has short fins from the head, while Clarias has longer fin to the tail. Both are carnivorous ” – Ade-Daniel

Comment: “Thank you for all the information, it’s really helpful.” – Jothan

Question: “Thanks Consultants, How do you know it is time to sort the big and small fish?” – Saheed Adewale Lasisi
Response: “Immediately you start seeing much differences in the sizes of the fishes. Then you should know it’s time to sort. Usually 3-4weeks interval” – Ade-Daniel

Question: “Good evening. Do fish get sick, how can I test the water.?” – Zakikurah Nhyandak
Response: “Yes, when your fishes are not eating well, then something is wrong. When you see your fish swimming in an abnormal way, something is wrong.” – Ade-Daniel

Question: “Good evening, sir. Please like how much can someone start with? Thanks” – Okanlawon Ayobami
Response: “The amount you can start with is determined by the production phase you want to do, the quantity and the facilities you have available.” – Ade-Daniel

Question: “Thanks for the impactful training session… please kindly help with the proportion of the individual feed ingredients i.e % requirement for each ingredient of the formulation… thanks” – Adeola Shayo
Response: “Feed formula is usually a personal asset for experts and is usually being sold out to whoever demanded. But for the sake of this training, I will give you a formula for free. GNC 10kg, SOYAMEAL 7.5kg, LOCAL FISH MEAL 15kg, FULL-FAT SOYA 2.5kg, Chicken Meal 7.5kg, Blood Meal 2.5kg, Flour 5kg, Salt 50g, Premix 50g. This is for 50kg local feed production suitable for jumbo to grow out.” – Ade-Daniel

Question: “Are there no energy or carbohydrate required in fish meal. The formula here seems to be only protein.” – Micheal Jacob
Response: “I guess the flour will be the energy source.” – Malique

Comment: “Very inspiring. I am indeed fulfilled” -Chinedu Nwokposi Adol

Question: “Thanks for the training. There’s this practice of feeding the fish with dead animals, especially those using earthen ponds, how advisable is this practice” Ajibade Bello
Response: “Ensure you are feeding them with a disease-free animal. That’s all.” – Ade-Daniel

Question: “Malique, thanks for the free lectures and this group. In your experience and what you’ve gathered from other veterans, which is the best feeding policy – Foreign Feed throughout, Self-formulated or Mixed?
Also, based on the fact that the fish is just a vehicle for converting your Feed into cash, which of the species do you consider as the most efficient converter and which is the most commercially viable?” – Aayooluwa B. Victor
Response: “I believe mixed to be the best. Both Clarias and hybrid are okay, depending on your budget. Someone that wants to rear till melange or smokeable size. Clarias is the best while for table size, the hybrid is the best.” – Malique

Question: “When is the best time to switch from floating to sinking feeds?” – Khaliel
Response: “Post juvenile sir” – Malique

Question: “I have heard a lot of experience about most people that venture into fish farming in the past complaining about the stress they pass through in getting the supplementary feed like maggots, poultry waste for their fishes in water to prevent cannibalism. Now, this cannibalism has become a limitation to venturing into fish farming. Is there a way fish farmers can manage the fish in the water to prevent cannibalism aside from the dietary causes.” – Abayomi Aluko
Response: “Naturally that’s the way they are, so it’s either you feed them very well or you supplement.” Malique

Question: “How many fingerlings can a starter start with? Can the feeding time be like 6 am?” – T-Glory Miracle
Response: “Depending on your pocket. Yes, just be consistent. Note when it is cold, they are not that active.” – Malique

Question: “How can one get a good market for fish, since the demand is high and one is not able to locate the area of high demands Thanks.” – Adeola Shayo
Response: “You do a market survey, having contacted those around you. And their limitation that is what you will improve on and be unique” – Malique

Question: “How can someone get practical training and acquire the feeding machine?” Saheed Adewale Lasisi
Response: “The admin will answer this 😂” – Malique

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