Chinyere Anyanwu, [email protected]
With the high demand for protein in the country, Nigeria’s fish farming industry which depended on fingerlings and juveniles from the wild to stock ponds in the past, is growing in leaps and bounds, resulting in pressure on the hatchery sub-sector.
Getting viable fingerlings and juveniles poses some challenges to fish farmers, which implies a shortfall in available hatcheries that supply fish farmers with stocking materials.
This means that hatchery – a special artificial establishment for fish breeding involving egg fertilisation, incubation, hatching and rearing of fishes from the early stage of life into juveniles and fingerlings – is critical to the survival and sustenance of the fish farming industry. Consequently, investing in hatchery business therefore, will guarantee considerable wealth creation for the investor since there is ready market, as well as boost the fish farming industry.
Fish hatchery business can be set up in an aquaculture farm to produce and provide fingerlings for small scale fish farmers.
Stepping out into the business
Water: The water used for fish hatchery must be constantly monitored to check for pollution. It must have a constant neutral pH value, well treated and aerated.
Fingerlings and juveniles used in fish hatchery must be constantly fed to avoid them being malnourished. Young fish feed on planktons, though in a confined environment, the supply of planktons may be limited. Growth and proliferation of planktons in the fish pond should be encouraged. Fish feed that will provide needed nutrients required by the fingerlings or juveniles can also be introduced. The feed can be purchased from any aquaculture feed store within the country.
To succeed in hatchery business in Nigeria, breeding fish must be available in the farm. Sexually matured male and female fishes with good history of rapid growth rate and favourable traits to serve the fish hatchery must be available in the farm.
For the hatchery business to be successful, there is need to ensure that a good number of fish farmers know about it and will be willing to patronise you.
Required equipment: The needed equipment for fish hatchery business include ponds, buckets, chemicals, nets, aerators, filter, among others. It is advisable to use small tanks for better observation of the fishes. It is also very important to keep the male and female fishes in separate tanks.
Fish hatchery involves different methods including egg release, fertilisation, incubation, hatching, and growth.
The release of eggs can be induced or natural. In fish hatchery business, egg release should be induced by injecting hormones like Ovaprim or Suprefact that cause the female fishes to release eggs at an average of three months.
Egg release can enhanced by gently applying pressure to the abdomen of the fish in a downward manner. This causes the release of the eggs through their genital opening. These released eggs are kept in a container while awaiting the sperm from the male fish.
During fertilisation, the sperm is obtained from the male fish by killing the fish and extracting the testes. Each testis is sliced into two or more quadrants and each of them placed in a clean, thin cloth material and squeezed to extract the content into a container. The obtained sperm from the male fish is introduced into the container bearing the eggs and mixed very well to fertilise the eggs. Sperm from one male fish can fertilise an average of 14 female fishes.
Incubation and hatching:
After fertilisation has been carried out, the containers holding the eggs are covered with water and aerators placed in them to promote aeration. The container is placed in a conducive environment, usually 30 degrees centigrade for incubation to occur. The incubation and hatching must be carried out properly in order to record good proceeds.
The fish should be allowed to grow to a certain size before being removed from the container. Because fishes grow at different rates, attention must be paid to this stage to prevent some of the fishes from preying on others.