How To Start Fish Hatchery And Fingerlings Production Business In Nigeria

If you want to start fish hatchery and fingerlings production business in Nigeria, follow the guidelines in this article.

Table of Contents 

  • What is Hatchery
  • Prospect
  • Steps in Starting Fish Hatchery and Fingerlings Production 

What Is Hatchery And Fingerlings Production?

Fish hatchery is a farm where fish eggs are hatched through artificial means. The newly hatched fish offspring which are still at larvae stage are called hatchlings. Fingerlings are fish offspring between 6-8 weeks old. Therefore, fish hatchery and fingerlings production business involves hatching fish eggs using artificial means, and managing the hatchlings until they reach fingerling stage. Hatchery and fingerlings production is one of the areas of specialization in fish farming  


With the ongoing revolution in the Nigeria fish farming or aquaculture industry, hatchery and fingerlings production is becoming a lucrative business. Fish farming begins from hatchery and fingerlings production. Fish farms depend on hatchery and fingerlings producers to get stocks for their farms. Inadequate and poor quality of brood stock is one of the problems of fish farming in Nigeria. So Nigeria’s aquaculture industry needs production of qualitative and quantitative fish fingerlings.

Steps To Take In Starting Fish Hatchery And Fingerlings Production 

Step 1: Select Site

Site selection is the first to take in starting farming business, which includes fish hatchery and fingerlings production. Site of your farm can make or break your business enterprise. Your farm should be located within or near fish farm estate for easy marketing and to prevent mortality while on transit. Site should be near water source. The water source can be river, spring, well or borehole. The water must be free from pollutants. Avoid flood prone area. 

Step 2: Purchase Equipment 

After site selection, the next thing is to procure the equipment needed for the construction of the farm structures, and for farm operation. The equipment needed include plastic bowl, plastic pond, syringe, water tank and the pipes. 

Step 3: Build Farm Structures

Structures to build are shade for the breeding, installation of the plastic ponds, ponds to raise any unsold fingerlings, storehouse, source of water etc. Ensure that your water pH is between 6.5 – 8.5. pH below 6.5 and above 8.5 can greatly affect the reproduction of the fish. Extremely low or high pH leads to death of the eggs, fingerlings or larvae. pH is the measure of level of acidity or alkalinity of water. Plant some all year round green leaf plants that can provide Dissolved Oxygen, DO during photosynthesis. Example of such plants is plantain. Dissolved oxygen is the most critical and limiting factor in aquaculture especially during fingerlings production. Oxygen enters the water through photosynthesis of aquatic plants or plants within the environment or by diffusion on air-water surface, but oxygen is lost through respiration of the fish. 

Read: Factors To Consider For Proper Farms Structures And Buildings 

Step 4: Get Your Brood Stock

Brood stock can be gotten from water bodies, fish ponds or from Nigerian Institute of Marine Research and Oceanography. 

Step 5: Start Production 

For the production, follow the procedure explained below 

I. Identify the male and female brood stock: Identification of the genders of fish brood stock is very easy. The male fish especially catfish sexual papilla is located behind the anus. The tip of the papilla turns red when the male is sexually aroused. The papilla is distinct to the male and the female does not have it. 

alt: = "photo showing how to identify male and female fish brood stock"
Identifying gender of brood stock 

II. Inject the female brood stock with hormones: The brood stock is injected with hormones to induce ovulation. Some of the hormones are ovatide, ovaprim, etc. Inject the female with 0.5ml dosage of hormone in dorsal muscle towards the tail. 

alt: = "picture showing how to inject female fish brood stock with hormones"
Injecting female brood stock with hormones 

III. Collect milt from the male: Place the male fish on its back, use scissors to cut the abdomen open to see the testes. If the testes are smeared with blood, use filter paperboy clean it.  Avoid the use of water because water neutralizes the sperm cells. Remove the testes and strip the milt. 

alt: = "photo showing how to collect milt (sperm cells) from male fish brood stock"
Collecting milt from male brood stock 

IV. Strip eggs from female: The eggs are collected in a clean, dry plastic bowl. A gentle press on the abdomen of the female brings out the eggs.  The stripping is usually one between 10 am – 12 pm when the eggs are running depending on the temperature of the day.

alt: = "photo showing how to strip eggs from female fish"
Stripping eggs from female brood stock 

V. Fertilize the eggs:
Pour the sperm cells evenly on the collected eggs in the plastic bowl and immediately add 0.9% saline solution for proper sperm cells motility and fertilization of the eggs. 

VI. Incubate the fertilized eggs: Incubate the fertilized eggs in an incubator (incubating facility). Spray the fertilized eggs on a spawning mat in the incubating unit with a constant flow of water. The eggs hatch within 20-24 hours, depending on the temperature of the water. 

VII. Manage the hatchlings/larvae: The hatchlings are yolk sac. The yolk takes some days to absorb. Start feeding the hatchlings with fry feed once the yolk is absorbed for about 2-3 weeks. Then feed them with formulated feed rich in crude protein till the reach fingerlings. 

Step 6: Market The Fingerlings 

As in every other business, marketing is very important in fingerlings production. The fingerlings need to be sold to fish farmers when they are between 6 -8 weeks, otherwise, you will be incurring extra cost to manage them, and it can get to a stage where you may not be able to sale them because they have over grown fingerling stage. You will have to raise them by yourself. This can lead to mortality, loss of investment. Fingerlings production requires market linkages because they’re not sold in the open market. Linkage with other farmers who specialize in fish rearing creates avenues that bring markets to fish fingerlings producer/farmer. At the start up stage when you don’t have larger number of buyers, I recommend you contact buyers to book for the larvae before you begin to breed. It will be very risky to begin to look for buyers after breeding. 

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