7 Tips to a successful Catfish farming Business

Successful Fish farm

I know a lot of people who have failed in this catfish business in Nigeria. I’ve visited several fish farms in Nigeria spread across all the different states in the country. I learn and observe to identify what makes the difference between the successful ones and the unsuccessful ones. So, let’s start the journey into learning how to run a successful catfish farming business!

The truth is not everybody is making profit from catfish farming. People may raise fish successfully, but that’s not the objective. The question is;

  • Did they raise it profitably?
  • Is the farm sustainable?
  • Can it stand alone as a business and take care of its bills?

After studying long and hard, I have observed some difference in the farms that have stayed functional for 3 years and more and the over 50 percent of catfish farm ventures in Nigeria that close up within 2 years of launching.

Here are 7 factors that make the difference-

Successful Fish farm
Successful Fish farm

1. Planning.

Most Nigerians just rush into a business because they hear of a certain Mr. Lagbaja who is a catfish farmer and is ‘making it’. ‘In fact, ti e ba ri bi eja won se tobi? (Translates to- In fact, if you see how big their fish is!). Let’s just get one fact out of the way, the size of the fish on a farm does not equate to the success or failure of the fish farm as a business.

For a farm to be successful, deliberate efforts and planning must have been put in prior to the commencement of the business. These planning should inadvertently touch the following…

2. Water.

I have come across many people who tell me, ‘Akinfish, I have land in so and so place, and I want to do fish’. Yes, I understand that one has to maximize the resources one already has, but what do we do when the land is not suitable for fish farming? Is there water in or around the land? Does it have a high water table? This is one of the most important factor to be considered to be successful in catfish farming in Nigeria and people just gloss right over it. It is AQUA-culture, meaning growing life inside water.

Suffice to say, water must be in abundance for a successful catfish venture. I have turned down projects because I knew it would be a struggle because of the lack of water after the borehole survey test. Some clients have stubbornly carried on their projects only to struggle, struggle and struggle.

On one hand, some lands or sites are just awesome for fish farming, either because of their proximity to a river or dam, huge water body or a water runoff path etc.

While some other locations are just disasters waiting to happen. Water na their own enemy as Fela Anikulapokuti did not sing :).

farm Utensils
catfish farming operations

3. Expertise.

People don’t want to pay for knowledge.

When you get and pay for the right training or consultant for your fish farming project, realize that you are not only paying for his general knowledge that you can read off the internet yourself, you are also paying for his experience and mistakes in the past. He knows what would work and what won’t. He knows what sounds theoretically possible on paper and what really happens in reality.

Do you know you can even visit fish farms and get training first hand from their managers? This is a good step for a successful catfish farming plan.

You can visit farms running all the different types of pond systems: earthen ponds, concrete ponds, water re-circulatory systems, tarpaulin ponds and then decide how to start your own project. Click here to see the next of such practical training that you can attend.

4. Staff.

Human beings are famed as one of the most difficult objects to master. Staff treatment and attitude can be the major problem of a farm.

I once worked for a fish farm that had over 10 farms in different states in Nigeria and over 20 staff in the branch where I was posted. This particular branch of the farm had issues with its productivity and would you believe that one of the things that brought a turnaround was the introduction of games and relaxation for the staff.

In a fish farm, depending on the size of the farm, once the staff feed the fishes and change the water of appropriate ponds as at when due, the job for the day may be over and the staff ‘can’ become idle. So, rather than running a 8am-5pm schedule on a farm, why not offer staff a flexible work schedule to ensure they would be around when the fishes need them to.

This kind of thinking can be a great morale boost for the farm and be a boost for the successful catfish farming.

There are tricks to this even if you as the owner would not visit the farm often. There are ways to monitor the cleanliness of your water and ensure your farm resources and feed are not being stolen!

5. Feed.

The truth is for a Clarias gariepenus farm (Don’t worry, you are safe, it’s just the scientific name of our African catfish), the feed costs amount to about 70 percent of the expenses on a fish farm. The lower your feed costs, the more profitable your venture is.

Some people say catfish can eat anything, but I say if you give them anything as feed, you can expect to see anything as your result. The way forward in Nigeria is the production of our own feed. Either embracing our local branded and bagged feeds or engaging indigenous feed makers to make the fish feed based on a formula that works.

catfish feed in use
catfish feed in use

I have my fish feed formula that works for me, and it consistently gives me results. I suggest you research on and do the same, subject it to a feed conversion ratio test to ensure it is efficient. Do the tests on your farm and keep being open to keep the costs of feed down!

6. Business Sense.

See, we all know how to milk opportunities differently. Some people excel at marketing their fish to pepper soup joints, and they make a healthy profit off the regular weekend supplies. While others face their processed fish and market to supermarkets and home consumers.

The catfish export market is probably one of the most underutilized export potential that Nigeria has. We have the fish! That much is sure. The logistics of going through the channels for export can be frustrating. However, some people do it and focus on that.

We keep hearing there is a huge gap between Nigeria’s demand for fish and the fish reared in the country. How do you want to plug in? How are you set to plug in? Who is your target market? How do you expect to sell your fish? Catfish is pricier in some states in Nigeria than other locations. Can you open a sales outlet in such a place or get a marketer for your produce there?

7. You want the 7th one?

Do You want me to tell you everything here? You should call me on 08161385163 and let us discuss about your fish farm. Fish farming is here to stay in Nigeria. I would respond to your thoughts, comments and questions.

Feel free to share with friends and family.

Showemimo Akinbowale,



Asher LTD.

47 thoughts on “7 Tips to a successful Catfish farming Business”

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  7. I have red a lot from you and I need a lot from you. please, I walk up this morning and the first thing that came to my mind was fish farming. But the problem here is I am not feet financially ( I am down ) I need a progressive ideas for the business. please tell me, how can I start?


    1. Hello Akinfish, I read alot and learnt alot from what you upload, my question now is what type of pond is good for beginners starting with 100 fishes, and can I be us fatching water self and Puring just for the main time. How easy will it be

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  10. Olusegun Akomolafe

    I am a new entrant into this farming and your piece have been very helpful and instructive. I however want to know you more and interact better with you. Thanks for being a blessing to me and others.

    1. Great. You can follow me on instagram @akinfish so you can see my farm and get more updates. You can also call me on 08161385163 and lets catch up !

  11. oyewunmi oyedotun

    Nice Article.
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  16. Hi. I started a small scale RAS at home over a year ago and now planning to scale up. I have spent The night reading your articles and I must say they’ve been very educative. In Ghana we will say “ you are correct “ keep it up

  17. Your article is most helpful. I am grateful I came across your site.
    I will call you for further assistance and information.
    Thank you.

    PS : be smiling in your pictures.

  18. Olusanjo Olukunle

    good day Mr akin,
    thanks for the write up.
    please where is your farm and how much does your training cost.
    it will be helpful as well if you can include the training contents and duration.
    kunle olusanjo

  19. Thank you so much for this pieces you have shared here.
    I am about venturing into a small fish farming business but I don’t have much knowledge about it can you please put me through or better still refer some materials for me to read?

  20. Hi Akin fish,

    I have tried calling your number severally but not reachable.

    I live in Lagos and I want you to assist with the collapsible tarpaulin fish pond.

    How much it will cost to build a capacity of 1,500 fish, with good materials to ensure durability. Please revert. Thx.

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  26. Currently, there are lots of hindrances facing catfish farming industry. The operating cost increases everyday, but nobody will buy if farmers increase their prices accordingly.

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