Catfish Farming in Nigeria: A Profitable Business

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Catfish farming in Nigeria is currently one of the most lucrative businesses among the various types of farming, and it is mainly boosted by the continuous rise in the demand for catfish in the local market. Catfish production in Nigeria is becoming popular among the new commercial fish farmers.  With a rising domestic market as well as good export sales, and currently accounts for over 80% of the country’s aquaculture output.

This movement, therefore, makes catfish culture the most popular form of fish farming in Nigeria Whether you are just starting out in aquaculture with the hope of making just an extra income or going into full-scale commercial production, here you will discover the steps for commercial catfish farming in Nigeria.

Catfish Farming in Nigeria

Overview of fish farming in Nigeria

So first, let me start by providing you with a fast overview of the state of fish farming in Nigeria. Despite the acknowledgment of commercial catfish farming in Nigeria, the fish farming industry can best be said as being at the infant stage in comparison to the huge market potential for its production and local or international marketing. The unavailability of fingerlings due to the shortage of adequate infrastructure for hatcheries and fingerling production is still a big problem in catfish farming in Nigeria.

Steps for Commercial Catfish Farming in Nigeria

Though catfish farming is easier than any other commercial carp fish farming, you have to know the steps for commercial catfish farming procedure properly. Truly we believe a code, and the code is “Proper procedure is the key solving of any difficulties”.

1. Business Plan

A perfect business plan is the pillar of the success of any kind of project. As a commercial fish farming, you need a well-developed business plan. Your business plan must be comprised of three important parts of the plan.  Business model, Operational plan, and financial projection are the three important parts of a business model.

2. Site Selection

Site selection for making a pond what it may earthen pond or plastic/concrete tank is a very important thing for commercial fish farming. Though catfish farming in Nigeria mostly operated in an artificial pond, some want to farm catfish in an earthen pond. Site or place must be far from residential area or noise place. Nearby market, good communication system, better water supply, and finally soil quality are the best component for the commercial fish farming pond.  

3. Pond Construction

Generally, the earthen pond is better for fish raising, recently modern farming has entered a unique aquaculture system called biofloc which is practiced in artificial ponds. Artificial ponds are made with plastic pond, concrete pond, and tarpaulin pond. Though various types of fish species are farmed in Nigeria, catfish farming has recently become very popular. Modern farming in Nigeria mainly practiced in artificial ponds. So, if you want you can run your farming project with either an earthen pond or an artificial catfish pond

Catfish Farming in Nigeria
Catfish Farming in Tank

4. Breeding

If you plan to journey into catfish farming in Nigeria, the primary thing you to gather better the fingerlings for better production. Better fingerling is often obtained through artificial propagation within the hatcheries through hormonal induction or even nearby hatchery. But if you have an opportunity to hatch in your own farm, and plan to supply your own fertilized eggs, you’ll make use of the homoplastic pituitary suspension.

There are various types of catfish species are found all over the world, but all are not farmable commercially. Even catfish species found in Nigeria are; Clarias gariepinus, Heterobranchus bidorsalis, Clarias X Heterobranchus hybrid (Heteroclarias) and Clarias nigro-digitatus. Among these, the Heterobranchus sp are quite common within the southeastern part of Nigeria with clarias spp dominating within the west to the commercial catfish farmers in Nigeria.

In Nigeria, it’s usually cheaper than the imported hormonal analogs. Fish Farmers also say that they’re more reliable, and that is seriously don’t doubt them. But despite the sweetness of induced spawning, there are challenges that you want to face: both biotic and abiotic challenges.

These problems all have their root within the extra care needed to tend to the fry during the primary week of life. Regarding these, you’ve got to battle with the supply of zooplankton which is fed for the larvae, fry, and fingerlings thus playing a serious role in their growth and survival.

There is also the matter of cannibalism, heavy predation by frogs/aquatic insects, and abiotic challenges like water temperature, dissolved oxygen (less than 4.5mg/L-1), levels of ammonia. The brood-stock to use for the aim of breeding should be between 0.3kg and 2kg.

5. Culture System

The next thing on the road of commercial catfish farming is the culture system you’ll use. First and foremost, you’ve got to remember that these African catfishes (especially Clarias gariepinus) are cannibals intrinsically. So you ought to take care in sorting them consistent with size. If you plan to culture the fingerling outdoor, you ought to take into consideration the prevalence of predatory insects in Nigeria. Therefore, make sure you cover the tanks with mosquito nets so on keep the predatory insects away.

For the adult, the poly-culture of clarias gariepinus with tilapia saplings is extremely common in Nigeria and has been known over the years to be productive. Mixed farming with catfish and poultry farming is another way. In this case, there should a house above the pond where poultry farming can be continued, and catfish farming in the pond.

This is often administered, using mainly concrete tanks which permit supplementary feeding, thus ensuring higher fish yield. A couple of farmers also use indoor water re-circulatory systems (WRS) which are used for commercial fish farming in India, Bangladesh, and other Asian countries. By applying the WRS system pabda or Indian catfish (Ompok), Vietnam koi, chital fish (Chitala chitala) farming are getting popular. But it’s costlier, so most easily use concrete tanks.

6. Feed &Feeding Methods

To achieve maximum yield and growth of catfish production in Nigeria, you’ve got to ensure that the feed you’re providing contains the essential nutrients like amino acids like arginine, methionine, and lysine found in crude protein sources.

The highest source of crude protein for this purpose is fishmeal for commercial catfish farming. But thanks to its excessive cost, it’s better to not choose it. Instead, you’ll use other conventional and sometimes unconventional animal by-products also as plant residues (such as groundnut cake, soybean cake, etc.) that meet the nutrient requirements of catfish.

This is so as to attenuate the value of producing the maximum amount possible. As fish farming over the years in Nigeria has got sky-high popularity, feeding catfish is predominantly done using pelleted floating feeds. This ensures adequate feeding of the fish thus increased the expansion rate. However, when feeding, it’s advisable to try to it on a specific part of the pond rather than just scattering the feed across the water surface. This helps to attenuate wastage of feed.

7. Farm Management

Success in commercial catfish farming depends on proper farm management. Farm management includes proper weight measuring the fish, providing feed properly according to their body weight, disease control, and monitoring water quality of the pond.  Water management is another vital factor for fish farming.

8. Harvesting

Most cultured commercial catfish sold for food are harvested at 500 to 700 grams in body weight. Man likes farming catfish for its fastest-growing. Within a very short time catfish reaches for marketing. Sometimes catfish become weigh between 2-7 pounds and measure 15 to 22 inches long. However, many grow much larger than this, with the record weighing 58 pounds and measuring 52 inches.

Catfish Farming in Nigeria

9. Marketing

As a very domestic and international market demand, you don’t have any wary about marketing for catfish. Catfish can survive a comparatively long time without water, so they get them to the nearby market as soon as possible. If you want more profit then wait for better market demand and better price. Better and quality full catfishes are export in many countries from Nigeria.      

10. Take A Note

We always like to say that taking a note is one of the most important tasks for a commercial project. You may make a profit or loss, and it may happen in any project. If you have a note it can help you to find out the pitfalls of your project. Even this may show the way of success.  


Finally, fish farming in Nigeria is an untapped goldmine supported by the very fact that there’s an ever-increasing need for it because the best alternative to satisfy the protein need of the people. However, the event of aquaculture is totally hindered by inherent problems of developing nations like lack of adequate infrastructural facilities for the assembly of economic quantity fingerlings and fry. This major problem notwithstanding, there’s still an enormous marketplace for fish farming and investment in aquaculture in Nigeria.

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