How to Start a Fish Farm

by Nancy Wagner; Updated September 26, 2017
Fish Farm with floating cages

Raising fish for profit ranges from growing small fish in a small area of your yard or house to building a full-fledged operation with multiple ponds. Before you start digging a pond or buying fish hatchlings, determine what type of fish you can sell. If space is limited, growing eggs into small fish you sell to other fish farms works best. With more space, you gain the option of growing fish to adult size and selling them to markets that need fresh fish.

Find Space

Supplying small fish to other aquaculture businesses requires little space, allowing you to install fish tanks in your basement, barn or a shed. If you plan to raise koi fish or want to raise species that need to reach marketable size for eating, you need an outdoor pond with enough space to accommodate the growing fish. Build a pond in your back yard or on your property, or turn a farm pond into a hatchery for fish growing operation. You can even set up an aquaculture center in a vinyl-lined pool as long as you provide proper air circulation and temperature control.

Choose Fish Species

Tilapia and catfish are the easiest for new fish farmers to grow. Warm water fish such as tilapia can be grown in an indoor fish farm or outdoors in mild climates. Trout and tilapia can be raised in a vinyl-lined pool. For quick turnaround, grow catfish -- a large fingering reaches 16 ounces in five months, according to Mother Earth News. Cold-water fish such as perch, bluegill and bass are ideal for outdoor ponds in climates with a cold season. Ideally, hatching your own fish keeps costs down compared to buying young fish. Raise koi fish to sell to people who want fish for their backyard water features.

Buy Equipment and Supplies

Keeping the water clean is important no matter what type of container or pond you use to raise your fish. A bio or drum filter helps remove toxic ammonia and other waste products produced by the fish. The water needs to be oxygenated with an aerator, air pump or oxygen injector. Invest in a backup generator that keeps the water aerated in case the electricity goes out. You also need to figure out what type of food your fish need. For instance, aquatic plants are a major source of food for fish species in ponds. You must provide all food for fish being raised in tanks.

Create Management Plan

Develop a written management plan that explain the daily activities you need to handle, such as feeding, checking air filtration equipment and taking the temperature of the water. Describe the amount of food each species at various sizes requires. Include a schedule for measuring water quality and cleaning the ponds. Include a section on evaluating the fish for diseases and how to prevent disease from spreading to the other fish.

About the Author

Nancy Wagner is a marketing strategist and speaker who started writing in 1998. She writes business plans for startups and established companies and teaches marketing and promotional tactics at local workshops. Wagner's business and marketing articles have appeared in "Home Business Journal," "Nation’s Business," "Emerging Business" and "The Mortgage Press," among others. She holds a B.S. from Eastern Illinois University.

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