Fish Farming: Is It For You?
Fish farming, or aquaculture, has attracted the attention of farmers, landowners, and investors as an alternative agriculture enterprise. Like other forms of farming, fish production involves capital investment, labor, management, and risks. If you are considering fish farming, this checklist can help you determine whether a fish farming enterprise is feasible for your particular situation. The checklist, of course, does not cover all possibilities. Answering yes to most questions won’t guarantee success, just as answering no won’t mean automatic failure. The checklist does address the most important considerations. To have a good probability of success, most of your answers should be in the yes column when you begin a fish farming operation.
- Are the facilities where you plan to raise your fish located near your residence to allow frequent and timely observations and necessary management adjustments?
- Can you acquire the skills necessary for fish farming at reasonable cost?
- Is it biologically feasible to raise the desired fish in your area?
- Do federal, state, and local regulations allow and encourage fish farming in your area?
- Are good quality feeds available at a competitive price?
- Are eggs, fry, or fingerlings available from local dealers?
- Can you raise your own eggs, fry, or fingerlings?
- Are you prepared to handle water quality problems?
- Can you make or purchase aeration equipment?
- Is the water temperature suitable all year for the fish you want to raise?
- Is dependable labor available?
- Are dependable services available for disease diagnosis?
- Do you have a source of supply for drugs and chemicals needed?
- Do you have equipment for storing feed?
- Are you aware of the government agencies and industry organizations that can provide educational and technical services?
- Can you handle the stress resulting from risk management and additional demands on your time?
- Do you already have suitable ponds or a site suitable for ponds?
- Is enough water available to fill the ponds and replace losses?
- Is the water of proper quality for fish production?
- Is the topography and soil suitable for a fish farm operation?
- Will your incur the costs of pumping to supply your water needs?
- Do you have most of the equipment and machinery needed?
- Do you have the necessary financial resources?
- Can you secure capital and operational loans for fish farming from your bank?
- Is the profit potential of fish higher than that of other potential investments?
- Will the expected profit be adequate compensation for your labor, management, and risk?
- Will investment and operating capital interest rates permit a reasonable profit?
- Is fish the best alternative for the land you intend to use?
- Can you afford to forego income until you sell your first crop?
- Are you able to absorb occasional losses?
- Are you willing to devote daily labor and management required?
- Do you know of an established market for your fish?
- Is there a high market demand for your fish?
- Do you know the price range and market stability of the fish you plan to produce?
- Is there a market for your fish at the time of year you plan to sell them?
- Can you be flexible and harvest fish in the off-season?
- Do you have suitable arrangement for harvesting fish?
- Do you have an alternative marketing strategy to fall back on?
- Can you transport your fish to the marketing point?
- Could a cooperative be formed in your area to help market fish?
- Are you able to clean and dress your fish for market?
There are five elements essential to a successful fish farming enterprise.
- Suitable land
- Suitable water
- Management time and skills
Under the right circumstances, fish farming can be a profitable and rewarding occupation. Although information on fish farming in Minnesota is limited, your county extension agent can direct you to sources of the best information to answer the more technical questions.
- Boyd, Claude E. 1979. “Water Quality in Warmwater Fish Ponds.” Auburn University Agriculture Experiment Station, Auburn, Alabama. Price US $10.00.
- Dupree, Harry K. and Jay V. Huner, editors. 1984. “Third Report to the Fish Farmers-The Status of Warm Water Fish Farming and Progress in Fish Farming Research.” U.S. Government Printing Office, Superintendent of Documents, Washington DC. 20402. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Stock # 024-010-00654-4. Price US $8.00.
- Gudice, John J., D. Leroy Gray, and J. Mayo Martin. 1981. “Manual for Baitfish Culture in the South.”#EC550. University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service, P.O. Box 391, Little Rock, Arkansas 72203.
- Leitriz, Earl, and Robert C. Lewis. 1980. “Trout and Salmon Culture.” Californian Fish Bulletin Number 164. Agricultural Sciences Publication, University of California, Berkeley, California 94720. Publication # 4100. Price US $5.00.
By David J. Landkamer