of the most popular agribusinesses in Uganda is fish farming. Gone are the days
when the only means of getting fish was by catching it from local Lakes, Rivers
and swamps through trial and error.
Today, the modern farm practice has made it possible to grow fish in the farms and control the input. If you are thinking of a business to start now, fish farming is one of them.
Here are pricesless tips on how to go about it.
THE MAIN BENEFITS OF FISH FARMING
• Fish farming can be practised on land parcels as small as 10x10m and even in tanks in homesteads
• After the pond is established, fish require very little attention and may be fed by small children, the elderly and people with disability
• The demand for fish is high in local and regional markets
• Fish feed on a variety of feeds including those commonly grown by subsistence farmers such as potato, vines and kales
• Tilapia mature after only 6-9 months while eucalyptus matures after 5-10 years.
CONSTRUCTION OF A FISH POND
• Dig a pond of size 100-100 meters. The pond size is determined by the number of fish to be reared
• Fish ponds are commonly located in riparian areas but may also be located where there is no natural source of water, including within the home compound
• Using land with a gentle slope and soil with a high clay content is preferable to soil with a high sand content
• During construction, compact the pond sides using lime or polythene. Lime also plays the role of modifying the pH of water which should not fall below 5 or rise above 9. It also disinfects the water thus killing organisms such as tadpoles that would feed on fingerlings
• The pond should be about 1m on the shallow end and 1.5m on the deep end
• For normal stocking densities of 4 to 5 fish per square metre of water surface. It is preferable not to allow water to flow through the pond continuously. This is because tilapia fish feed heavily on phytoplankton which thrive in the presence of nutrients. Allowing water to flow continuously through the pond will wash out nutrients together with phytoplanktons, increasing the cost of feeding as the farmer now has to add more feeds into the pond
• However, where stocking densities are higher, water should flow and wash out ammonia coming from fish dropping and the feeds
• Expose the pond to sunlight, which favours growth and multiplication of phytoplankton.
• Allow water to rise to a depth of 6 centimetres then apply manure at the rate of 1kg per 10 square metre of water surface
• In the absence of manure, use ½ kg urea and ½ kg NPK (15-15-15) fertilizers per 100 square metres of water surface
• Obtain the fingerlings from certified fish nursery operators e.g. the Ministry`s Aquaculture Research Development Centre in Kajjansi.
• Stock the pond 5-7 days after applying fertilizer on manure
• Stock the pond in the morning or evening when the temperatures are low
• When stocking, leave the bag carrying the fingerlings in the pond for about 10 minutes to allow its temperature to come close to that in the pond
• Allow some little pond water to get into the bag and then let the fish swim out into the pond at their own pace. Do not pour the fingerlings into the pond water
• Stock at an average rate of 5-10 fingerlings per square metre of water surface
• Stock the pond with male rather than a mixture of male and female fingerlings because male fish grow almost twice as fast as female fish
• Also, stocking the pond with female and male fingerlings leads to over population and hence reduced growth
MAINTENANCE OF THE POND
• Plant grass on the top and sides of the dykes to protect them from erosion
• Dig a ditch just before the dyke on the upper side of the pond to divert runoff water and hence avoid flooding the pond and losing your fish in the overflowing water
• Fence the pond and keep a net above it to protect the fish from predators like frogs and snakes. Slaughter house waste is also used for this purpose. You should also put strings across the pond to keep birds off.
• Feed fish mainly on commercial feeds and vegetative materials such as potato vines and kales
• Observe your fish as they feed. When the feeding rate slows down, stop adding feed into the pond as the fish will have eaten enough
• Adding excess feed in the pond will lead to waste and pollution of pond water
• Add manure or fertilizers to the pond after every two weeks to boost the growth of phtoplanktons
• Feed at a particular time and from the same place consistently
• Feed three times a day at (9am, 1pm and 5pm) during fingerling and early post-fingerling stage (up to 2 months). Thereafter feed only at 9am and 5pm.
CROPPING AND HARVESTING
Cropping is the removal of fish of market size, i.e 150-300 grams to decongest the pond and thus promote growth of the remaining fish.
To crop or harvest your fish, lower the net down to the bottom of the pond, sprinkle a small amount of feed on the water above the net, lift the net as fast as possible to prevent them from escaping.
There is ready market for the fish. Fish in the catchment is sold at farm gate. Join a market group like WAFICOs fish marketing at Wandegeya Market for ease of marketing and selling your fish.
RESTOCKING THE POND
• After harvesting all the fish from the pond, leave it for about two weeks before restocking
• If it is not raining, this period will allow the pond floor to dry so that nearly all the organisms die
• Before restocking, remove silt and other materials from the bottom of the pond
• The process as described for a new pond. If it is raining, add lime to the pond and then wait for two weeks before adding fertilizers or manure and restock 1-2 weeks later.
Credit: Office of Agriculture Minister