Eel Fish Farming: A Profitable Business

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If you want to start a commercial eel fish farming business you need to flow some rules and regulations. Here, I am trying to give you a guide for starting an eel fish farming business with small capital investment comprehensively.

Generally, small-scale eel culture is a low-cost initiative. It is comparatively easy and more profitable than several other fish farming business projects. The business doesn’t require huge water bodies and specific expensive formulated feed for them. Even, you can start the eel fish farming business at your backyard with tanks.

What is Eel Fish?

Before eel fish farming you need to know what is eel fish, its features, etc. Eels are long snake-like fish with a smooth, slimy scale-less skin. They are commonly light chestnut brown with numbers of black spots. Eels are one kind of carnivorous and long-living species that spend most of their life in freshwater, however, return to the sea (saltwater) to breed.

The scientific name of eel is Anguilliformes. According to their method of breathing, you can find two different types of eels, the first one is the water-breathers (Anguilla) and the second one is the air-breathers (Monopterus). Though, you can find several other species too.

Features of Eel Fish

Generally, the young eels live in the freshwater of rivers and streams for up to 12 years and 18 years for males and females respectively. Some species may reach even greater ages than before mentioned. Then, as they reach sexual maturity their skin pigment becomes silvery, they put on weight and they migrate miles out into the seas to find the spawning grounds to breed. The eel only breeds once during its lifetime.

Health Benefits of Eel Fish

It is consumed mostly in Europe, The U.S.A, Korea, Japan, New Zealand, The Republic of China, and other countries as well. Apart from its distinguishable flavor, it offers various health benefits. Eel fish helps to lower cholesterol, blood pressure, and chances of arthritis. It enhances the development of the brain, good eyesight, and functions of the nervous system. 159 grams of cooked Eel fish are loaded with 375 calories, 94.3 grams of moisture, 37.6 grams of protein, and 23.77 grams of total lipid fat and 2.86 grams of ash.

Eel Fish Farming
Eel Fish; Image: alibaba.com

Market Demand

Global eel production is approximated to be worth over US$1 billion, accounting for 65% of the total eel production. China, Taiwan, and Japan are the largest eel producing countries in the world, but significant quantities of eels are also farmed in Europe and America. At present eel fish farming is also practiced commercially in India, Bangladesh, and other African countries successfully.

Eel is an important food fish in the current days globally. Because of their delicious taste, eels are becoming a popular protein source in every country including India and its neighboring countries. Therefore, starting an eel farming business is a moneymaking commercial business for the fish farmers.

Things to Consider For Eel Farming

At first, you have to wiliness a business plan for your eel fish farming business. According to your investment capacity, design the business plan properly. A proper business plan is the half of success of a business.

Secondly, you have to identify, what resources you must have. And accordingly, calculate the financial investment. If you don’t have that then you can contact the nearby bank or local government who are waiting for you to invest in any kind of productive project.

Thirdly, you need to determine whether you will start eel rearing in the ponds or tanks like catfish farming. Because the project cost will depend on this basic consideration. Though at present eels are farmed commercially in tans because of some advantages.

Finally, you have to identify the potential market for your fishes. You must understand the local market demand for the eels. Apart from the local market, you can contact the hotels and restaurants who buy eels frequently. But if have access you can contact exporters, because eels are good demand in the outer world.

Suitable Species for Eel Farming

To farm commercially of any kind of species then suitable species are a precondition. As we know “as you sow so you reap”. So you must select proper or suitable eel fish species for your fish farming business commercially. Here some of the suitable species are given below form which you can take one for your respective farm.

Longfin eel (Anguilla reinhardtii) and the Shortfin eel (Anguilla australis) -This type of species is found mainly in brackish and fresh waters of Australia and New Zealand, and are the most commonly farmed species in the countries.

European Eel (Anguilla Anguilla)-Name shows the region, yes you are sure, and this type of species is found in fresh and brackish water in the UK, Ireland, Mediterranean, Northern Africa the Baltic Sea, and Iceland up to mid-Norway.

American eel (Anguilla rostrata)-American eel is found in brackish and freshwater on the eastern side of the United States, the southeast of Canada, and the Gulf of Mexico.

Japanese eel (Anguilla japonica) -It is most common in the fresh and brackish waters of Japan, Korea, China, and Taiwan. This eel is particularly suited to pond cultivation in these countries as they are naturally acclimatized to higher water temperatures.

Eel Fish Farming:

First of all, secure the water body for eel fish farming. You can grow eels both in the pond or tank.

Firstly, fill the tank or pond with clean fresh water. Basically, you have to procure the glass eels. You can capture glass eels from the sea or you can procure from the hatcheries also. Generally, you can use scoop nets and traps for catching glass eels.

Secondly, after procuring the glass eels, keep them in the smaller tanks. Here, you have to check the eels whether they are disease-free or not. The eels are also weaned to artificial diets with cod roe and, later on, dry starter feed.

Eel fish Faming
Eel Fish Farming; Image by Ruddra

Finally, when the eels reach approximately 5 g, transfer them to a juvenile production unit with larger tanks (6-8 m²) and stocking densities (50-75 kg/m²). At this point, the eels can digest dry feed pellets (1 mm).

Feed Supply

You can raise the eels in your farm commercially with locally available and natural feed. It is not only economical but also environment-friendly. For instance, feeding the golden snails to the eels will be a good and natural method of managing the pest as well. You can also use formulated feeds in the form of a moist paste for glass eels and steam-pressed or extruded pellets for the later stages. Though the types of eels feed are tend to be similar to other fish. The feed can be given at the eel, among others:

  • Earthworms
  • Protein pellets more than forty percent, either sinking or floating.
  • Shrimp and small crabs live.

Providing eels with the right food is important to their health and growth. Being meat eaters, protein is an essential requirement. Commercial foods are widely available. Commercial foods contain a protein paste for young eels and pellets for older eels. These foods consist of high-quality fish proteins, oils, and nutrients to produce optimal growth.

Monitoring and Care

Proper monitoring and care are essential for successful eel fish farming. When growing eels on in ponds or tanks, regular monitoring or grading is the must for reducing pattern and competition for food. After every 6 weeks, you must grade the eels and record it which will help you to compare with the previous record. Additionally, you have to separate them into different sizes in different categories. If you keep all different sizes together, the larger eels will eat the smaller eels, and it is one of the natures of eel.

Eel Fish Farming Pond
Eel Fish farming in Tarpaulins; Image: By Ruddra

There are many designs of fish grading equipment commercially available, yet they all work using the same principle. They consist of an entrance that the fish swim into, and then different sized gaps allow the smaller fish to return to the ponds or tanks while retaining the larger fish that can be moved to other tanks or to be prepared for harvesting.

Harvesting

Harvesting is a very important step for any kind of farming activity. Because if you do everything properly but you have no idea about proper harvesting then the output will not be desired and consequently your eel fish farming will be hampered..You must harvest the eels by grading the sizes to make sure each eel is large enough to reach market value. It is important to keep stress to a minimum while grading, so as not to affect the health of the eel. Put the large eels that are ready for harvesting into tanks with clean water to flush out any possible impurities in their systems that could affect the taste. Additionally, stop their food 1-2 days before harvest.

Marketing

The final step of any commercial activity is marketing. Proper marketing depends on several strategies, such as market demand, market value, aggregate supply, etc. So to execute a successful eel fish farming business you need to consider all of these important facts. Additionally, you have to manage the eels according to their end-use. Chill the eels that are to be freshly consumed. Put the fishes into bags that are filled with oxygen. There should also be enough water in the bag to keep their skin moist. They are then ready for transportation to the market. Eels that are to be smoked are usually transported alive to the processors.

Manage Pond or Tank for Next

Proper post-harvest management is important for eel farming business. After each harvest, you must clean the tanks properly. Additionally, use the sun drying method for a few days before taking up fresh eel farming again, and thus you can run a successful eel fish farming business properly.


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