5 Things to Watch Out for Before You Buy Those Fingerlings!

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One of the factors that determine the success or failure of any fish farm is the quality of fish that is reared on the farm. Fingerlings and Juveniles can either be reared on the farm or bought from other sources. I send my catfish juveniles all over the country to Port Harcourt, Abuja, Kano, Lokoja and Lagos frequently. I even recently started sending my fishes to Ghana! So people really do buy fishes from farms all over the country. Now since we all get juveniles one way or the other how do we make sure that we stock the best juveniles? What do we look out for to stock the best fingerlings, how do we avoid runts? Here are 5 things you must know before you buy fingerlings or juveniles for your farm.

What are runts? Just the way all the children born of a mother would not grow at the same rate or achieve the same height or weight in life, so also all the ‘children’ born of a fish. With the different growth rates come the different strata. First, we have the shooters (the best of the batch), then we have the first class, the second class, the lower second class and finally the runts.

People always say they want shooters. These ones grow at a very fast rate and their growth burst is not dependent on the feed they eat. They just start growing faster and bigger than their peers right from the beginning. They are usually obvious from the 2 weeks and most hatchers separate them into another pond so that they don’t eat their peers. Click here for more on shooters and why it may be impossible to order for 5000 shooters.

We have the first class, the second class and then the runts. For a full explanation of this classes of fish in every batch check here.

Here though are things to look out for to ensure you always get the best stock from a fish farm when buying fingerlings or juveniles-

1. Number- When you go to buy your fingerlings or Juveniles, check to ensure you are not buying the last of the fish batch. The average fish hatching has about 10,000 fingerlings. The experienced hatcher would start advertising his fishes from fingerlings as he aims to sell them quickly and hatch another batch. Hence he has probably started selling them from fingerlings. The first client who comes to buy, would not buy the smallest of the batch, he would buy the biggest. Hence what is left, would be the smaller of the batch of fishes, regardless of how ‘big’ they look. So the more the fishes left in the pond for sale, the better your chances of getting the best of the batch.

2. Records / Date of hatching- Think of a 30-year-old man who looks like a teenager standing beside a real teenager. Now they both look alike, but the teenager having grown that big in that short while has a greater potential to be bigger than Mr.30 though they look the same size right now. Hence hatcheries that keep and can show you their records and calendar schedules are top notch. I would rather buy a 4 weeks old fingerlings than a 15-week juvenile. Catch my drift? So it is always a good idea to ask for records and ask for the specific dates of the hatching and age of the fishes.

3. Broodstock – Like father like son they say. Or in this case like mother like children. The father in fish hatching would most likely be dead. (Too bad- Men have been sacrificial since time immemorial). The larger the parent stock the more assured we are that the children can also attain such a large weight. So I would rather patronize a hatchery where I see that they have large Broodstock in their tanks than those with smaller Broodstock.


See how to care for your Broodstock here.

4. Condition- Healthy fingerlings and Juveniles are always swimming actively. They also sometimes have this upward, downward motion at the edge of the pond, with them using their tails to beat the water as they go down. These are signs of healthy fingerlings. Avoid buying fingerlings or juveniles with bloated stomachs, dull disposition, or white patches on their head.

5. Hatcher- After all that is said and done, we do business with people. Some Hatchers hold themselves to high specific standards. They use the right type of Broodstock, sell only a certain percentage of hatched fingerlings to ensure they don’t sell runts and adopt other principles to ensure they only give out the best of seeds to farmers to stock on their farms. Some hatchers are trusted around certain fish communities and seeds from them come with their ‘named guarantee’. It is always good to have about 2-3 trusted hatchers that you get your fingerlings from.

Those are some tips and guidelines that should guide you as you source for your fishes.


If you are just starting your fish farm project, these are 7 things you must know here.

See here to make a choice on the type of fish feed to use on your farm.

To also know how many fishes you should stock in your pond, check here.

Has this article helped you in any way? Share your thoughts and opinions with me in the comment section.

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