Catfish farming is trending in Ghana, and the prospect of having to cash out in 6 months or less is very attractive to almost all farmers, however, many are realizing huge losses in this otherwise lucrative business.
If you are a catfish farmer, and have not made any profits yet or struggling to maintain your farm profitably, fear not! We’ve got you! We have been in your shoes, and we know how much it hurts.
Yet, that pain is the very reason you shouldn’t give up, but press on to solve the challenges that come with catfish farming in Ghana.
In this article, our goal is to lay out the major errors you are most likely to commit as a new catfish farmer, how to avoid them, and the best approach to catfish farming in Ghana.
If you haven’t already, our new course on catfish farming is a great resource for all catfish farmers to get the requisite information, and to grow your farms profitably.
We have gone through the pains, and the errors, so you don’t have to, read on and learn from our mistakes.
6 Serious Mistakes New Catfish Farmers Make.
- Starting with less knowledge; the Catfish farming business, is a serious business, you are dealing with live fish, and despite what the literature says that catfish are tougher than tilapia, you would be surprised how quickly you lose them should any parameter be off. It is said that the wise, learn from the mistakes of others, if you are starting fresh, having an experienced and educated farmer on board your team is a must, to avoid costly mistakes that you might not ever recover from.
- Underestimating funding requirements; Catfish are voracious feeders! Their feeding cost alone can constitute up to 80% of the cost of operation. The feed-to-body weight ratio for catfish can be up to 1.2: 1. That is, for each 1.2kg of feed you serve your catfish, 1 kg weight is produced (all other factors being the same). If you are producing 10,000 fingerlings of at least 1 kg each, you need at least 12,000 kg worth of feed. Each feed-bag weighs 15 kg, thus you require 800 bags of fish feed. These calculations are crucial in ensuring your financial readiness for your catfish production.
- Stocking Low-Quality Fingerlings; If you are a new catfish farmer, chances are that you would purchase your catfish fingerlings from other established farmers. That is okay, except you should know that not all fingerlings are made the same. When you hatch catfish, there are fingerlings that quickly outgrow the others, those are your best fingerlings, those are the fingerlings you should stock, not the ones who struggle with initial growth, unfortunately, only the hatchery can tell, if the fingerlings they are selling to you are top quality or leftovers, that is why you should only patronize tried and tested hatcheries when buying catfish fingerlings in Ghana.
- Overstocking the pond; The standard stocking density for African catfish is 76 pieces/m3, stocking anywhere above this, would lead to a myriad of challenges, including competition for food, poor water quality, competition over space, air, etc. Catfish are sold per weight, it is not how many you stock that matters, it is how well you feed and take care of them. Use a proper catfish stock density calculator to accurately determine the number of catfish fingerlings you require before you even start.
- Lack of Sorting; Catfish are omnivorous, and yet their carnivorous aspect, makes them voracious cannibals. Catfish would kill and eat any weaker one among them, and what’s worse, they would even do deep sea burial in the pond to the extent you might never know. This is why effective sorting is crucial to your success as a catfish farmer. Failing to sort, is more likely going to lead to huge losses. What this means is that each cycle of catfish production requires not less than 2 tanks or ponds.
- Improvised feeding; The common knowledge out there is that catfish would eat just about anything, yes they would, but if they are not of their nutritional requirements, they would have stunted growth. There are several top-quality commercial catfish feed available in Ghana, utilized them, and when absolutely necessary, use top-quality organic feeding methods only to supplement your feeding regime.
How To Succeed as a Catfish Farmer in Ghana and Avoid These Serious Mistakes
As a Catfish farmer in Ghana, there is so much you can do to improve your profit margins, but that is only if you have overcome the above challenges. These serious mistakes new catfish farmers make can actually lead to massive losses, thus requiring serious attention and commitment to succeed.
- Get knowledge; Look, I get it, paying an experienced consultant to help you grow your fish farm profitably is not top of the agenda, I mean, you are looking at cutting down costs and growing this fish as cheaply as possible. However, that approach might actually be your downfall.
An experienced catfish consultant, especially one that also doubles as a farmer, would see things you otherwise would have ignored, he will guide you, coach you and ensure you commit no errors. Yes, it might be expensive in the beginning but imagine losing 1000 catfish.
2. Get proper funding, in fact, when starting a farm, most of us have the tendency to be overly ambitious, I encourage you to consider underproducing in your first 6 months to learn more about catfish farming before you go large-scale. Experience is crucial when dealing with territorial animals like catfish. If you have enough funds to spare on say 10,000 fish, perhaps it might make sense to start with 5,000.
3. Stock only quality fingerlings; This comes hand in hand with having a consultant on board, as a new catfish farmer, you might not know what makes a fingerling better than another, but a consultant would know. What’s more? a consultant might have already established links at top-quality hatcheries who might sell you the best fingerlings for your outgrow ponds.
4. Never Overstock your pond; Catfish is sold by weight, better to understock than to overstock. The more the parameters are okay in the pond, the better your fish would grow. Always ensure adequate stocking densities to achieve proper growth.
5. Sorting; Sorting should be done at least every 2 months, sorting at these intervals, limits cannibalism and ensure that less growing fish also have adequate nutrition to grow properly.
6. Improvised feeding; Rising cost of catfish feed would always cause farmers to improvise their feeding. If you should do that, there are better means to go above it. Do not throw cassava and other waste products into the pond thinking the fish would eat and grow big, rather use duckweed, Azolla, or maggots from, black soldier flies to achieve good results. In fact, incorporating these into your feeding schedule can cut down your cost of feeding by about 50%.