How to Start an Aquaculture Business

by Shanika Chapman ; Updated September 26, 2017

Aquaculture, which is the farming of fish, shellfish and aquatic plants, can be a rewarding endeavor for someone who is willing to invest the time needed to thoroughly learn his product. Operating a fish farm requires a good deal of physical labor to construct and maintain an ideal habitat and knowledge of the species’ feeding habits and breeding patterns. Before you dive in, you’ll need a detailed business plan.

Research various species of fish, if you do not already have a particular fish in mind that you would like to farm, to determine which species would fare best in your area. In addition to popularity and availability, you’ll need to ensure that you can replicate those conditions needed to raise your fish. Additionally, consider anticipated costs, what you can expect to sell the fish for, clients and expected profits.

Learn everything there is to know about the species you intend to farm. Read literature on breeding patterns, feeding requirements, ideal conditions for breeding, ideal conditions for adult fish and growth time as well as diseases and cannibalism issues.

Find a suitable habitat for your fish that has the appropriate water temperature and water flow conditions and obtain zoning approval. Implement a system for housing your fish and a wastewater treatment method. Farming systems include cages and pens, ponds or flow-through systems, tanks and raceways and recirculating systems.

Contact the Food and Drug Administration, Department of Health and Human Service, the Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency to obtain the necessary licenses. You’ll need to demonstrate knowledge of water quality, wastewater, disease control, pesticides, feed, fish shipment and food safety.

Hire a licensed contractor experienced in designing fish farms to help you design your farm and production system.

Stock your farm with eggs and adult fish, depending on your budget and the amount of time you are willing to wait for your fish to reach adulthood.

Market your fish to local restaurants, grocery stores and those who enjoy recreational fishing, if you will allow locals to fish on your land.


  • Purchase business liability insurance. If you intend to allow locals to fish on your land, construct gazebos, benches and recreational areas with barbecue pits. Consider selling fish and chips or similar fish fare to your patrons.

About the Author

Shanika Chapman has been writing business-related articles since 2009. She holds a Bachelor of Science in social science from the University of Maryland University College. Chapman also served for four years in the Air Force and has run a successful business since 2008.

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