By Herbert Musoke and Joshua Kato
Aquaculture is one of the enterprises which are very profitable if one did it as a business and followed technical advice from experts, according to Joseph Mukalazi a fish farmer and the director of Grace fish farm at Ndejje-Bombo in Luwero.
A standard pond must be 50 by 100ft and 3ft deep at the inlet side and 4ft deep at the outlet side. This can stock 4,000 catfish and 1,000 tilapias. You should have mixed stock because tilapia multiply a lot and catfish will feed on the tilapia fingerlings to regulate multiplication but also minimise expenditure on feed.
He says you will need capital of about sh5m for digging a standard pond, stocking and feeding until maturity. He adds that to manage a fish farm, you only need to have enough and best quality feed, fresh water for oxygenating the ponds.
“Those having swamps should think of aquaculture other than filling them with soil for crops yet they can be used for fish farming and remain in their natural form performing their natural purpose of water catchment and purification,” he says.
He, however, advises that water quality and quantity is key in the growth of fish by about 60%. Water should be refreshed or changed every two weeks in the dry season and once a month in the rainy season. Here, because the pond is constructed while slanting at one end, water is let out and refilled.
“For feed, a fish must be fed 10% of its body weight daily. A tilapia will eat 1.6kg to maturity and for catfish 1.3kg when there is tilapia, but when the pond has only catfish, it will eat 1.8kg to maturity”, he explains.
However, it is very important that you minimise expenditures on the farm so that you can make profit. Here, you need to improvise on feed by making your own using fine maize bran, silver fish (mukene), sunflower, table salt, cow blood, soya bean, ground nut meal where a kilogramme will be about sh2, 800,” he says.
In addition, you have to fertilise the ponds to avail planktons into the water using all fresh vegetables and also cow and pig dung.
“Poultry droppings are also used for fertilising the ponds but should form a cage system and layer chicken where a farmer used coffee husks because timber husks don’t decompose easily and they choke the fish if they eat them leading to deaths,” he explains.
At nine months, tilapia should be ready for harvest weighing 400g -500g. For a catfish, at five months it will be 1kg but to get more money you can sell them at nine months weighing 2kg-3kg and if kept for a year you can get fish weighing 10kg.
If at harvest the average weight is 2kg and sell each kilogramme at sh6,000, you will get sh12,000 from each fish. From a pond of 3,000 fish, you will get sh36m from catfish.