The choice of what species should be cultured in a particular region depends on a number of factors, as discussed below.
Several introduced (exotic) species have caused or threaten conservation problems to indigenous species due to their hybridisation, the introduction of parasites, or by out- competing naturally occurring species for food or other resources. The reasons for culturing exotic species are:
- Some exotic fish grow better and faster than
- Some exotic fish are preferred by people for eating (over local fish).
- The offspring of a cross between a local fish and an exotic fish sometimes grow faster and taste better than either of the parent fish (this is called hybrid vigor).
- Each species has a preferred range of water- quality and temperature parameters. It is important that only species whose water- quality requirements are within the range of those found in the region are
- Availability: If there is a problem with fingerling supply, the farmer may need to build a hatchery, which is both expensive and requires highly technical
The suitability of the site is extremely important and the following checklist will help determine whether it has good aquaculture potential.
- Is the proposed site in a region zoned suitable for aquaculture?
- Is the site well drained and above flood-prone areas?
- Who owns the land where the fish farm will be built?
- If you are considering ponds, is the land a good
shape for a fish pond?
- Is the soil suitable for pond construction and will it hold water?
- If you are considering putting cages in dams, is there sufficient water turn-over to dilute pollution from feed and waste?
- Is there a sufficient and acceptable water supply?
- Would you be able to use this water?
- Is the water polluted by any chemicals, fertilizers, pesticides, toilets or other pollutants?
- Is the pond or cage site close to your home? 11.Are there enough people to help build and
harvest the pond, cage, or other system that you
12.Is there enough food available for the fish? 13.Are there fertilizers available for ponds?
- Can the equipment for building a pond be borrowed, hired or bought?
- Is it possible to get made-up cage components to the site, or will they have to be assembled on- site?
- Does the site have acceptable potential for the disposal of waste water?
- Is there easy access to services and technical assistance?
- Is there adequate room for the proposed ponds or cages, plus possible future expansion?
- Do the people in the area like to eat the fish species that is to be cultured?
- Do you and your family eat the farmed freshwater fish?
- Can the people in the area afford to buy the fish produced in the pond, cage or tanks?
- Is the cultured fish suited to the local climate, and is it native to the area?
- If the species in not indigenous, is it an acceptable species for aquaculture in that catchment in terms of conservation legislation?
- Are established and reliable rearing techniques known and readily available for the intended species?
- Can the basic biological needs of the culture
species be met?
- Have you chosen a species for culture, and are you familiar with its biology?
- Have you investigated the production strategies available and chosen the best for you?
- If you do not have the necessary technical experience, are you prepared to employ someone who does?
- What food would you feed the pond fish and where would you get it from?
- Are dependable sources of juvenile fish available locally?
- Is the development acceptable to neighbours and others who may use the area?
- What competition is there for the use of water?
- If people drink the water downstream of your proposed fish farm, will they still be happy with the fact that you may add fertilizers to the water or are feeding the fish?
- Have the plans been discussed with the appropriate state agencies and extension officers?
- Have you identified what permits are required for the construction and operation of the facility?
- Can the required permits be obtained without excessive investment in time, money and effort?
- Can you obtain permits for an extended period of time, or do they have to be renewed frequently?
- If it is a community project, is the local chief involved or aware of this project?
- Is your project large enough to be economically
- If you are proposing a cage-culture project, has the owner of the dam given approval?
- Does the owner of the dam (or waterbody) want a share of your income or profits, and have you
Marketing the product is very important and often overlooked. Not only is it important to identify your market, but also to make sure that you can supply it at the right time, in the right form, and at the right price. Ask yourself:
- Is there a market for your fish (can you sell your fish at a profit)?
- Are there any competitors selling the same fish as you in your area?
- If people are going to buy fish from you, what protein were they eating before the fish became available, and thus will be ‘displaced’ by your product?
- Is the market big enough for you and your
- Is there a good (and easy) way to get the fish to the market?
- Is the market accessible year round from the site?
- How will you get the perishable harvest to the market without spoiling it?
- Are the roads passable even in the rainy season?
- If there is no market nearby, or if it is hard to get to the market, can the fish be kept by drying, smoking, or salting them?
- Is there a vehicle available for transportation if necessary?
- Can you produce what the market demands, at the right time and in the right amount?
- What form will you market your product in (i.e. fresh, filleted, salted)?
- Are you able to harvest, handle, hold and transport the product to market or will you require additional help?
- Are there already established marketing outlets that you can tap into?