Ornamental Fish Farming Tips in Kenya

Ornamental fish business in Kenya is estimated to grow at a steady pace over the next 15 years. However, despite the growing domestic demand, very few of our local entrepreneurs seem to have taken up this idea. As such, the niche-specific market has had to contend with an under-supply for many years. In fact, the vast majority of ornamental fish sold in Kenya and Africa in general are imported mostly from Israel, Eastern Europe and Far East.

And as i found out during my research, breeding of tropical ornamentals is usually a small-scale business, and there is nothing really complicated or high-tech about it.

You can therefore start your own smallholding today, and begin supplying nearby retail shops with cheaper and high-quality fish without the costs of international transport, customs clearance and the stress to the fish associated with being transported for many hours.

Here‘s a step-by-step guide on how you can produce better fish quality than the imported stock and how you can make money out of it.

Step 1: Getting Started

First you will need to find a suitable location for your venture. An ideal ground is one that has adequate supply of water, preferably located in an environment that is neither too hot nor too cold (23 degrees to 28 degrees temperature is recommended). As such most of Nairobi, Central Kenya, Central Rift, Western, Nyanza and Coast would be ideal places to begin your search for land.

Step 2: Do This Simple Market Survey

The reality of the market is that you need to go where the demand is high. Population density and dog-ownership percentages go hand-in-hand. A related consideration is that the demand for dog training services is high in urban areas than rural areas with Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu, Embu, Nakuru and Thika towns topping the list.

Step 2: Build a Pond

A typical liner pond costs about Ksh.30,000 to construct. The size of the pond will depend on the number of fish you want to keep. For instance, a 250ft X 250ft pond is adequate for 3,000 ornamental fish. You can seek help from the National Aquaculture Research Development and Training Centre in Sagana Kirinyaga County for additional advice on best practices of ornamental fish farming.

Step 3: Buy Fingerlings

You can start with as few as 60 ornamental fish fingerlings. Small gold fish fingerlings cost Ksh.150 (estimate) each, Black Molly cost Ksh.400 each and Orandas Ksh.500 each. You can mix these three species to provide diversity to your customers.

Step 4: Manage the Farm

Ornamental fish are best fed using flakes and pellets. The water in the pond also needs to be changed at least once every month. The fish normally reach maturity in 1-2 years, and although they can live up to 20 or more years, as a commercial farmer, you will want to begin exploring the option of selling them as early as possible.

Step 5: Build Aquarium Tanks (Optional)

You can choose to sell your fish directly to people who make aquariums or you can learn the art (of making aquarium boxes) yourself so that you can tap in even more profit. For instance, an empty aquarium box measuring one-and-half square feet currently goes for Ksh10,000.

Step 6: How to Market Your Fish

Ornamental fish are priced per inch. Hence, the longer the fish, the bigger the price tag on it. For instance, a 6 inch gold fish (priced at Ksh.150/- per inch) will attract Ksh.1,000. And since an aquarium is a lovely sight to behold that uses minimal electricity power in the house, you can market your product directly to homeowners, commercial offices or even schools.

The Dos

  • Visit the National Aquaculture Research Development and Training Centre or their agents for training and mentorship.
  • Consult with farmers who are already in this business to get an idea of the challenges they encounter.
  • Consult a few buyers in your area or region to get an idea of the kind of quality they are looking for.

The Don’ts

  • Don‘t overcrowd your fish in the pond (1 inch of fish per 4 litres of water is recommended).
  • Don‘t add too many new fish into your pond at one time, get a few first and see how they adjust to their new home.
  • Don‘t use pesticides near your pond, generally maintain high hygiene standards around the fish.

How Much to Invest

Building the pond will cost you about Ksh.30,000 and buying new fingerlings will cost you about Ksh.20,000. You can start with 60 fish, which if well fed and maintained, can multiply to over 10,000 in a year.

How Much To Expect

If you sell half of the fish (5,000) per year with each fish priced at Ksh.500 then you can expect a sale volume of Ksh.2,500,000. And since the cost of maintaining a pond isn‘t that high, then you can look forward to a pretty decent profit margin of around 80%.

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