Have you ever dreamed of being a farmer, gazing out over your herd of cattle as the sun sets on the horizon? It’s a romantic notion but not realistic for most of us. After all, you need a lot of land, a lot of cattle and a lot of experience to be a successful farmer. True enough, but what about farming another type of livestock – one that doesn’t need acres of land, needs relatively little care, and can be started by someone with only a little experience? Welcome to the world of home fish farming.
There are a number of reasons you might want to start farming fish at home. Perhaps you already keep fish and want to expand the scale of your operation. Maybe you enjoy eating fresh fish, but are concerned about over fishing, or how commercially farmed fish is kept – if you farm it yourself you know what’s gone into it. Or maybe you fancy earning some extra income and see fish farming as a way to generate money.
If you do decide to take the plunge so to speak, the first thing you’ll need to sort out is a place to keep the fish. To make this a viable operation you’re going to need something a bit bigger than a home aquarium. Maybe you have an outbuilding, garage or large basement? You’ll need space to fit a pool the size of a small domestic swimming pool, at least 10-12 feet long, and 3-4 feet deep. If you’re lucky, you may have a pond in your garden; as long as it’s replenished with fresh water, this might do.
Next, decide on the fish you want to keep. This will depend on why you’re farming them in the first place. If it’s because you like eating fish, farm ones you like to eat. If you’re planning on selling to local restaurants or markets, grow the fish their customers like to eat. Catfish, trout and tilapia are all very popular – easy to farm, quick growing and tasty. But only farm one type of fish at a time, they’re likely to attack each other if thrown into the same pool.
Like any good farmer you’ll have to take care of your herd (or shoal). Fish have relatively few demands; they just need clean, oxygenated water, enough space to swim freely, and regular feeding on a decent diet. You’ll need to invest in an aerator to keep the water clean, and fish food to keep them growing, but other than that it’s pretty straightforward.
You will of course need to catch a few every now and again to either eat yourself or sell to the local fish restaurant. Use a net, and take the biggest specimens. Don’t forget, fish in overcrowded tanks become stressed and may die, so do this regularly. -MARK LEE