An Introduction to Fish Production in Nigeria

The technicality of fish production goes beyond one or two online lectures and to be profitable as a fish farmer these technicalities have to be taken into consideration.  It is something you learn and acquires over time through study and practice. That is, the more you practice, the more you seek knowledge, the more you will understand the technicalities behind profitable fish farming. It encompasses all the activities in fish production starting from site selection to sales, processing, and or preservation. The technicality aspect explains the why, when, how all these activities are being carried out.

Fish culture involves the controlled cultivation and harvesting of fish for either consumption or sales in the market.  Although fish culture is over fifty years old in Nigeria, it is yet to develop fully when compared to arable agriculture and to some extent, livestock production. We are also still miles away from what is practiced in many advanced countries.


Generally, the purpose of rearing fish is to have enough to eat and generate additional income, especially in commercial farms.  Not all fish species perform creditably well under culture conditions.  For a profitable venture, the fish farmer’s ideal candidate species must have some or all of these qualities.

(i) Fast growth e.g Clarias.

(ii) Acceptance and utilization of supplementary feeds e.g Tilapia, Clarias, Hetorobranchus.

(iii) Hardiness and resistance to disease, e.g. Heterobranchus, Hetero-Clarias, Clarias.

(iv) Tolerance to poor water quality e.g Clarias, Heterobranchus

(v) Ease of breeding in captivity. e.g. Tilapia.

(vi)  Low production cost e.g Tilapia, Clarias

(vii)  Acceptability and marketability e.g. Carp and Heterotis,Tilapia and Clarias.

There is a variety of fish that exist in Nigeria but only a few of these fishes can be reared. There are basically two major common fish species that can be reared and produced economically in Nigeria. Other species are also being worked upon but not yet viable.

Catfish- Clarias gariepinus •Catfish is the most popular fish in Nigeria, this fish specie is by far the most cultivated in Nigeria. In fact, Nigeria is the largest producer of Catfish in Africa. Fish farmers bank on this specie because it is one of the easiest species to rear either in captivity or in the wild. So, people willingly move to this direction because of the natural ease they find in cultivating them.

African Catfish

Although there are many species of fish and a handful of Catfish species, the African Sharptooth Catfish “Clarias gariepinus” of the family Claridae is largely cultivated in Nigeria. Asides the Clarias gariepinus, We have the hybrid of Clarias X Heterobranchus, Heterobranchus longifilis and the Clarias nigrodigitatus, and Heterobranchus bidorsalis. • • • •However, the most cultured in Nigeria is Clarias and lately, Heteroclarias cultivated from the cross breeding of Clarias and Heterobranchus longifilis. In the Southeast, we have an almost equal culture of Clarias, Heteroclarias and Heterobranchus.

Heteroclarias (Hybrid) ·Heteroclarias fish combines the fast growth traits of Heterobranchus longifilis and early maturing traits of Clarias gariepinus. Heteroclarias spp is very rugged and disease resistant, and they consume less feed when compared to pure Clarias. •They attain bigger sizes than pure Clarias, and they gain higher weight at harvest. They can survive on a plant protein-based fish feed. There is less post-harvest loss and more white flesh which tastes better.

Tilapia-Oreochromis niloticus. Tilapia fish is the second most popular fish in the Nigeria aquaculture industry. Tilapia fish species live in fresh shallow water. It produces very rapidly and grows fast, also it easy to cultivates and is very popular in the Nigeria market. Tilapia fish is the easiest and most profitable fish to farm due to its omnivorous diet, mode of reproduction. That is why they are refers to as prolific breeder. They can also be cultured with catfish to control their reproduction. •Other fish species reared are common Heterotis, Common carp, Pangasius, Sea bass. Most of these species are not yet being done commercially in Nigeria but major work still to be done to make it more economically productive for Nigeria market.

red tilapia
black tilapia

I hope i have at least, introduced you to the major Fish species cultured in Nigeria and some characteristics to look out for. In my next post, i will discuss Fishponds, their Construction and Management. Until then, please fill free to click here to contact me for Consultation and here for Training and other bookings. You may also click here to get my book “Agribusiness: Opportunities Every Business Oriented African Should Look Into”.

Please keep safe, your Lady Agvocate cares.

6 thoughts on “An Introduction to Fish Production in Nigeria”

  1. Jimoh Nurudeen Kayode Nurulhaqq

    Kudos to you Mrs Sarah, you have cut a niche for yourself in the Agribusiness, and as freaky daddy will say ” You are doing well”. More grace to your rising star.

  2. Jimoh Nurudeen Kayode Nurulhaqq

    Kudos to you Mrs Sarah, you have cut a niche for yourself in the Agribusiness, and as freaky daddy will say ” You are doing well”. More grace to your rising star. As a Fish farmer have learnt one or two things in your write up that will help improve my production. Weldone.

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