How do I set up a fish farm?

Updated April 17, 2017

Stocking and raising fish requires knowledge of the lifestyle of the species you want to raise, and the environment which best suits its growth and proliferation. No fish is perfect, but the amount of preparatory work you needed is a function of your location and the market you are entering. You can raise catfish, bass, bluegill, crappie, white Amur, koi, trout, Taipei, and other species. The land must be level above the flood plain with a good supply of high quality water. Pond size determines the number of fish. Most fish farmers grow more than one species in their pond.

Ideal Species Characteristics

Fish eggs must have a good rate of survival, exhibiting good reproduction rates, and their larvae also must be strong with a fast growth rate. Your species must be able to take supplemental feeding and be easy to handle and harvest. They must not be cannibals, and should be easy to transport without disease or parasites. The species must not be territorial, should be in demand in the marketplace and must be easy to catch and process. You must know about food, food sources, transportation costs and seasonal market fluctuations. Estimate the initial capital expenditure and all ancillary equipment needed to farm your fish. Cost of stocking and providing for enough reserve capital to keep you in operation for at least three years is necessary. This will allow the stock to mature, and minimise waste and unnecessary labour.

The Farm Pond Catfish Example

Catfish are very popular, especially in Southern States. They have a good history of meeting the ideal characteristics outlined above. Channel catfish have achieved the highest popularity. They feed on insects and minnows and grow one pound/year with no extra feeding during their six year lifespan. Capital costs include aerators, oxygen meters, feeding gear,netting, and the land itself. While operating costs cover fish stocking, labour, insurance, feed, taxes, utilities, fuel, telephone, water testing and consulting fees for fish biologist and water chemist. It is necessary to maintain the proper balance of fish species in your pond. This can be accomplished by fishing the pond regularly and restocking to make up the balances. You can train catfish to come up for floating food by installing a metal pipe and tapping on it with a hammer when you put out the food. Turtles may give you a problem because they eat a lot of food and uptake oxygen from pond water. Buy some turtle traps and release turtles to another area. Incidentally, snapping turtles make excellent turtle soup.

Your new business requires you to know the market well --not only price, but location and diversity. For example, Baton Rogue, Louisiana has a huge fresh fish market on the north side of town. Channel Catfish command a good price there. Transportation is costly, especially with the ever increasing gas prices. There would be a greater margin of profit if you were near a wholesale outlet. Another option is to have your buyers come to you and sell direct out of your pond. This can be done on either a wholesale or a retail business. Some sportsmen like to take their families to "paid ponds" and catch their own fish for dinner or freezer. Check into smokehouses to sell your prime catfish. Cat food companies will buy those fish of lesser quality. Fish stocking is certainly an option. However, all these different outlets require additional special equipment and labour.

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About the Author

Writing from his Cape Cod home alcove, Thomas Edward won American Express' National Humor Contest and wrote "Stern's Reminder," a nautical fiction, in 1999. His first professional publication in 2005, "My Fathers Who Art in Heaven," was followed by short stories in New England One magazine. Edward holds an M.S. in civil (environmental) engineering from the University of Cincinnati.