Isn’t it fascinating to know that most lipsticks ladies wear today are made from fish scales? Some boots and handbags are also made from fish skin. This clearly shows that apart from the obvious purpose of nutrition which fish serves, it also has cosmetic and fashion purposes.

According to a report by Fishery Production Statistics, Nigerians consume about 1.2 million tonnes of fish per year, out of which about 60% is imported. This production-consumption gap shows that there are ample business opportunities for aspiring fish-farming entrepreneurs to utilize. Fish farming also known as Pisciculture involves the act of rearing fish such as catfish, Mackerel etc. for commercial purposes. Like every other business, there are startup factors and costs involved in starting a fish farm business.

The cost of starting up a fish farm business in Nigeria varies widely. Why? This is because market forces and environment differ for one location to the other in Nigeria. For instance, the cost of land to build a fish pond in Lagos varies significantly from the cost of land in Kafachan, Kaduna State.

If you are considering this line of business, here are startup costs to put together.

  • Land: Acquire land in a suitable location. However, give consideration to the land’s closeness to market, access to good roads and cheap labour. As a startup, you can start off with a quarter or half plot of land. The cost of land depends greatly on its location. To get a rough idea of the cost of land in peri-urban Lagos, we spoke with Mr. Felix Ndudi, who is a fish farmer based in Lagos and an Alumnus of FATE Foundation. He noted that a quarter plot of land in Ikotun, Lagos State costs between N500,000 to N520,000. A quarter plot of land can accommodate 3 or 4 ponds of size 17 by 15ft. This is applicable to both the concrete and tarpaulin pond types. To cut costs, you can also use the empty space within your residence.
  • Construction of pond: The next step after getting the land is to either construct a concrete pond or create a pond using a plastic or tarpaulin pond types. If you want to start with a concrete pond, hire the service of a professional.  However, with the plastic or tarpaulin pond types, you can be flexible as construction is pretty straightforward. In terms of cost, concrete pond is much expensive than other pond types. For instance, to construct a 17 x 15ft concrete pond on a quarter plot of land usually costs between N100,000 to N300,000. An entrepreneur planning to start small scale fish business on a tight budget can opt for either plastic tanks or tarpaulin pond types. Tarpaulin/plastic pond types are not only less expensive, they are also easily movable. Typically, tarpaulin ponds of size 17 x 15ft would cost between N70,000 to N90,000. These prices however vary based on the buyer’s pricing capabilities and quality of the tarpaulin.
  • Constant water supply:  Provision of good and dependable water supply is a crucial factor to consider when starting a fish farm business. To cut costs, you can situate your pond near a tap or stream or consider digging a borehole. It’s advised to ensure that clean water is available all the time because fish depend on water for all their needs.
  • Fingerlings/Juveniles: The next step is the purchase of fingerlings/juveniles to populate the pond and commence the process of breeding. It is important to purchase good quality fish fingerlings/juveniles. Speaking with another fish farmer and FATE Foundation Alumni based in Badagry, Lagos, Mrs. Folarin Olubusola, we learnt that fingerlings cost between N20 and N25 each and juveniles cost between N35-N40 each. She advised aspiring fish farmers to start off with juveniles which are easier to breed and also advised against over-stocking the pond as it could hinder the growth of the fingerlings/juveniles. For instance, she noted that a 17 x 15ft of either concrete, tarpaulin or plastic tanks will comfortably accommodate 500-1,000 fingerlings/juveniles and not more.
  • Fish Feeds: After purchasing your fingerlings/juveniles, you will need to feed them. Your choice and quality of feed is of utmost importance as it has direct importance on the health and size of the fish as they grow. Good quality feed can be quite expensive but the investment will pay off in the long run. For instance, 1,200kg of good quality feed costs about N400,000 but can feed 1000 fingerlings for 5 months. Your investment in good quality feed will pay out when you have healthy and large fishes for which you will sell to earn more revenue.
  • Management team: For starters, you can run the fish farm yourself. But as your business expands, you will need to engage the services of a general manger, sales clerk, accountant, security guards, office attendants etc.

Do you have a fish farm? Do share your experience with us.