Seven Reasons why Fish Farms Fail in Nigeria.

reasons why fish farms fail in Nigeria
Not every fish farmer has great harvests like this.

A lot of fish farms are closing up. A lot of people start catfish farms in Nigeria and they fail within the first year. This leads to the closure of such ventures. I am going to list out seven reasons why fish farms fail in Nigeria on my observations.

Please note that this list is not hierarchical. One point is not more important than another. Here are seven reasons.

Training and expertise.

Many people just think “Is it not for us to pour water inside the pond and put the fish?” These people don’t go to farms for training. They might manage to attend a one-day training that will be taught with projectors and slides without any experiential knowledge and they will go off to start their farms.

But they will not invite a consultant to come to the site to see the farm. They will just pick up a random business plan online and start a catfish farm with it. This is wrong. You are setting up your farm to fail. Go to a farm and learn on the farm. Go to a fish farmer, talk to him and learn from him. Do a three or seven-day training. Catfish farming is not as difficult as other ventures, true. You do not necessarily need a one-week training. However, you need to take the time to learn how to farm.


A lot of people do not realize that fish need water to breakdown their food and grow. They do not only just need water for swimming. Fishes take oxygen from the water. They need water to be in abundance. It’s like for you to be rationing oxygen for you to breathe. That cannot work! Please, get enough water from as many boreholes or steams. A well? You are deceiving yourself!

Locally made floating fish feed
Locally made fish feed.


This constitutes 70% of the expenses on a well-planned fish farm. People still ask if they can feed maggots to their catfish farms. Of course, you can feed them maggots. Just don’t expect them to grow at the commercial rate you want.  It is like asking if you can feed catfish gari. The baby will eat the gari, true. The baby will not just grow as well as when the baby feeds on dairy products. There are feeds that are already made and you should not cut corners by feeding trash. Well, it is “garbage in, garbage out.” Whatever you feed is what you will get. There is not a trick to it.


This is what I call the juveniles and fingerlings that are put on the farm as you start. This has been a major reason why fish farms fail in Nigeria. It is a little tough getting the right juveniles and fingerlings. So, when people get good costumers they can trust, they stick with them. It is advisable to make sure you get the right juveniles from the right farmer. With this solved, you are on your way to success in your catfish farming venture.

Over-stocking and overzealousness.

Fish is sold in kilograms. And not always in numbers. I can make more money by stocking less number of fishes and growing more weight than you who puts more fish inside the same pond size. There is a way to calculate a number of fishes to be put inside your pond. You cannot just get that at face value. In some ponds where people put 5000 fishes, I would rather put 1500 fishes. An interesting fact is that I will make money from my own 1500 fishes. You will lose on your own 5000 fishes. I said this to say that stocking density is very important.

People just start with so many fishes instead of letting the business grow out from scratch. If they start from small and progress it works better. As a consultant, we usually suggest to farms that we start small. They sometimes think I am underestimating them when in fact, I am looking out for them not to lose their money.

Staff and trust.

This is Nigeria and we know that staffing is a challenge. A lot of people get swindled by their staff. They do not generally feed well. In a farming estate, for example, a staff of the facility probably has his own fish pond just as you do. They probably use your feed to feed their fishes; feeding yours in the morning and theirs in the evening. By this, the fishes do not actually get the food that you have actually paid for. And a lot of people cannot come back after they have lost the first time. They might not have enough capital to re-invest into it. And this is a reason why fish farms fail in Nigeria.

Fish farming, just like life itself, requires patience.

Patience with the business.

Fish farming is a business and not a money doubling scheme. It is not a get rich quick scheme. It is a business that needs to be planned, executed and doggedly tweaked to get the best out of it. You have to watch out for mistakes and learn from them. You should actively seek out where and how to sell to maximize profit.  

These are the reasons why fish farms fail in Nigeria. But if you have specific questions, you can ask me.

Here are tips about how to start a catfish farm.

If you want to know the kind of feed to use in your catfish farm, check here.

Please feel free to call me for any other questions as you start your farm. I pray your fish farm succeeds. Thank you.


3 thoughts on “Seven Reasons why Fish Farms Fail in Nigeria.”

    1. Amoding Hellen Faith

      Good morning, thanks for your advice,am Faith Amoding from Uganda ,a teacher for agriculture secondary,nice time

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