Below is what a model inland fish farmer, Rev. Tanne Zadoc Muguri thinks farmers can do to increase fish production
It is very difficult to bring up fingerlings. At first most farmers thought that you could just buy fingerlings from anybody, put them anyhow and at the end have a good harvest. Experience has proven many wrong as they have tried and ended up with poor yields. What we do is to work with farmers in the preparation of the ponds, crosschecking other security issues like putting the net around to safeguard the fingerlings from predators. Then, the pond is also checked for pollution from pesticides and other hazards. We have tried too and failed in the production of fingerlings before learning how to produce healthy fingerlings that will survive.
A good pond is 100 square meters or 10×10 meters and you can put 1000 fingerlings in it. At first farmers would construct very big ponds with all the inconveniency of maintaining and feeding the fish. The results in such huge ponds are hardly good. It is better to construct small ponds because it is easier to manage and care for.
Before farmers collect fingerlings, we ensure that their ponds are fertilized so that there is food for the fish in the pond.
Fertilization of the pond
To fertilize the pond, leave water in the pond for about one week so that other living organisms that the fingerlings will live on will grow in the pond. When the pond is fertilized you notice that other smallerliving organisms like tadpoles are already leaving inside. These organisms should be younger or smaller than the fingerlings you want to put. If the fingerlings are smaller than them they can prey on the fingerlings but if they are smaller they will be preyed on as food by the fingerlings. The farmer must crosscheck that the pond is not polluted with a lot of material that will generate poisonous properties.
Transporting the fingerlings
Fingerlings are transported in specially prepare oxygen bags to avoid stress and death. These oxygen bags are special polythene bags that contain oxygen to sustain the fish if you are going far away. Many farmers lose a lot of fish during transportation because of the manner which this is done. If new ponds are near by, transport them as quickly as possible. Technical advice on how to transport fingerlings is very important.
Stocking the pond
It is advisable to put the fingerlings in the pond early in the morning or in the evening. But the evening is not very good because if there is any problem it is difficult for you to cope in correcting whatever went wrong in the night but if it is in the morning you will work during the day to correct what went wrong.
Some of the common problems are that, you may discover that the water is too cold or too hot just by the way the fingerlings behave in the pond immediately you put them. Or sometimes just by observation you discover that the water is polluted and you also need to change the ph of the water. You can first make a trial by carrying water in the pond and putting in a container and then introducing a few fingerlings for some minutes to see how they behave. If their reaction is ok you can introduce the fingerlings into the pond. Do not give food immediately. You can give food the next day so that they go out of the stress of transportation.
If you discover that the fingerlings are too stressed you can put some table salt at the rate of 1kg per 1000 cubic liters of water. This will also reduce the stress on the fingerlings. From here if the water content is ok you can now start bringing the fish up as usual.
Profit in fish farming depends on your security around the pond and your feeding. There is little medication, little work to do. You come and give feed and go but security is hard to follow up.
For security you must put nets around to keep away predators from your fish if not kingfishers, hawks and other animals and humans that feed on fish will remove all your fish and you may still be thinking that there is fish in the pond.
The quality of the fingerlings also matter if you intend to make profit. With good healthy fingerlings the mortality rate is greatly reduced but if the fingerlings are not of the same size or are feed in a way that some grow bigger, you may discover during harvesting that much of the fish had disappeared as the bigger ones would have fed on the small stunted ones.
Good fish feed is not only expensive but very scarce sometimes. This increases the cost of production and greatly reduces the farmers’ profit margin, so organic production is cheaper and there is more profit. That’s why in our farm we have piggery, poultry and even planted rice. We make our feed from organic matter and feed the fish.
After putting the fingerlings and properly managing the ponds, you can start harvesting from 4 months. By four months some of the catfish is above 1kg and a kg of life fish is at least 2000 francs and many people scramble to by it.
By Rev. Tanne Zadock Muguri, Fish farmer and fingerling producer, Lower Bokova.