AGRICULTURE: AgroPractice: Tilapia Fish Farming In Nigeria

By Agronigeria

Tilapia fish farming is a good and lucrative business. It is new in Nigeria and the demand in the country is on the rise with few farmers exploring this venture.
Tilapia fish farming is becoming more popular because Tilapia is easier to raise compared to most fish breeds and it is highly resistant to diseases. Tilapia can survive in diverse temperature conditions and feeds on vegetable.  Hence, tilapia farmers will make profit because any product from the farmer will be mopped up.

Setting up a Tilapia farm:
Nigeria has extremely good conditions to encourage tilapia production due to its favorable weather conditions all year round thus Nigerians can venture into tilapia farming. Before establishing a tilapia farm, the following must be considered before you start up a tilapia fish farm in Nigeria.

Source of water:
A regular and accessible source of water is important to set up a tilapia farm. The water should be of favorable pH and temperature of about 28 degrees Celsius. The location of the farm should be free from flooding. 

Environmental condition:
Tilapia lives in water, thus, the physical and chemical constituent of the water affects the fish either positively or adversely. To achieve maximum yield, the water should be between 28 to 30 degrees Celsius. The pH level of the water should be suitable for the survival of the fish. Substances that can pollute the farm should be cleared out and the farm should be kept free of predators. 

Choice of fingerling:
There are four common breeds of Tilapia. Oreochromis is the most common specie of tilapia fish but Blue Tilapia has the fastest growth rate. A farmer can buy tilapia fingerlings and raise them until they attain a required size before they are sold or he can breed his own stock.

Pond Construction:
Tilapia fish can be reared artificially in a pond. These are cheaper to construct for farmers and tilapia production specialists. A pond should be able to hold water and allow natural biological activities occur thereby providing the conditions necessary for optimal production. Also, a properly constructed and managed pond, gives a good yield and vice versa. Hence, the farmer should pay good attention to construct an ideal pond for his fishes. When constructing an artificial pond, ensure that its depth allows water to flow into it. The floor of the pond should be surging. An ideal pond floor should be made of clay or concrete with compost and have a pH level of 7 or 8. There should be an inlet for water and a channel to drain it when necessary.

Feeding tilapia is quite easy because tilapias feed on almost all food sources and can thrive solely on pellets, the fish can also survive on very common substances like algae, fish feed, larvae, insects etc. Tilapia are typically fed moderate to high protein pelleted diets at rates ranging from 1.0% to 30% of their body weight per day depending upon their age and size. To prevent competition, ensure that the fishes have enough food. By providing essential nutrients to tilapia, you enable them grow faster and reach harvesting size as quickly as possible.

This involves multiplying the population of the tilapias in your pond to maximize profit.  There are four common breeds of Tilapia but the one with the fastest growth rate is the Blue Tilapia. Another breed with high growth rate is the Nile Tilapia.
However, it is worthy of note that female tilapia are very active in reproduction and can produce as much as 250 fingerlings in three weeks so caution should be taken to check over population. These include having more male tilapia in your pond, using hormones and using some specific breed. Again, the fingerlings should be placed in a different pond from the adults to prevent them from competing with the adults and growing better.

The fish can be harvested individually using hooks or by hand or they can be harvested collectively by either using nets or draining the pond.

Disease control and Treatment:
To prevent the outbreak of disease in the pond, it should be cleaned regularly. Its water should be changed immediately it gets dirty and the population of the fish should be checked to prevent overcrowding. Again, any new fish that is being introduced should be quarantined to prevent infection. In case of a disease outbreak, changing the water is essential. Seek veterinary assistance immediately.

Tilapias are the second most popular fishes used in Nigerian meals and this aquaculture business has great potential for sustainable income. However, it also requires a proper feasibility study of the fish farming business by estimating the size of your potential market, cost of farm products, and other essential factors.