How to Start Perch Fish Farming: Raising in Ponds, and Cages, A Step-By-Step Guide for Beginners

The Nile Perch, locally called Mputa, is a native of Lake Albert. The Nile Perch is a large fish species that live in the Nile, along with numerous lakes and rivers in the Great Rift Valley. The Nile perch can weigh up to 200 kg and feed on other fish species. Its carnivorous diet and large body size made it difficult for farmers to think about raising it.

How to Start Perch Fish Farming
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With the increasing demand for aquaculture products, new breeds are being recruited permanently for agricultural purposes. It is one of Africa’s most valuable foods and rustic species. It was cultivated by the Egyptians at least 4,000 years ago in fish ponds (along with tilapia). It has been widely introduced in other areas, sometimes with devastating consequences for indigenous species.

The Nile perch is a freshwater fish in most parts of the Afro-Tropic Ecozone. The body of the Nile perch fish is long, compressed, and deep. It is mainly silver with blue color. It has distinctive black eyes with a bright yellow outer ring. Let’s check out on more information about how to start perch fish farming below.

How to Start perch fish farming

Conditions for Nile perch farming

Nile perch are attractive freshwater fish, but keep in mind when buying a tank for a large variety of fish; you are buying for long-term care and, therefore, should plan for the largest community you want. A 90-gallon tank is recommended for carrying a perch, as they are large, functional, and can grow to fit around you. The tank will need a heater to maintain a temperature between 23-25°C. They live in Africa and prefer warm waters. 

Nile perch habitat

Perches can be large, but they are quite hearty. Like any pet, you want to minimize risk, so use only good-quality fake or real plants. They are predators, but all animals like to have places to rest and hide, so be sure to make a little topography with rocks and inscriptions. Often these fish can also be used for small, decorative ponds, so things like plants, almond leaves, and overgrown wood are great ways to make a natural habitat.

The Nile perch is silver with blue. It has a distinctive deep black eye with a bright yellow outer ring. Females grow larger than males. In the wild, there are usually twice as many males as females. The fish it feeds grows in size as it grows. The best time to feed it is evening or dawn, as it is very sensitive to light. The Nile perch pond should be deeper than the tilapia.

It should be about three meters deep because the Nile perch grows in deep water. You need at least one of them per square meter of water. The basics of starting Nile Perch Farming include a 50-to-100-meter pond if one is going to do medium farming. The pond should be in an area that can retain water even in dry weather. Other expenses include obtaining fishnets from the lake and transporting them to the pond. 

Diet and food for Nile perch farming

Perch will eat anything that might fit their mouths, so keep that in mind when choosing your food and tank mates. Also, remember that these are hearty fish and prefer to eat live. You can keep separate feeders for raising fish or buy cheap feeders, but for proper maintenance of your perch, you need to provide a variety of food, which can be expensive if not properly planned.

They can eat crabs, beef, earthworms, and anything else that is usually sold as live feed or bait. Nile perches are extremely predatory, which they must become to reach their large size. Any abundant small fish is targeted, and tilapia is considered a primary food source, although it will eat other perch. 

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Perch Fish
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Nile perch fish behavior 

Nile perch will eat anything that fits their mouths, so they are not good companions for small fish breeds. Ornamental tanks can be great for keeping large species together. Nile perch is relatively easy to care for if you are comfortable providing live food. They will eat everything they can chew, so as long as you keep their diet different, they are like caring for another large freshwater carnivore. Keep in touch with favorite sellers, as it can be difficult to find them regularly. 

Cage culture in Nile perch farming

In cage aquaculture, the Nile perch is reared in enclosed areas inside the lake. The cages use metal bars, wire mesh and nets, and ordinary plastic cans to keep them afloat and act as wave breakers. Farmers strategically place cages inside the lake and feed the fish daily. But carnivorous Nile perch need to find a way to lure other small fish into the cage. One way to do this is to light the cages. 

Cage fish culture involves stocking fingerlings in floating cages and feeding them nutritious food. The fish that will take the feed pellets are usually suitable for culture in floating cages. The biggest advantage of cage culture is that it requires much lower startup costs than other systems. Cages work well on a small scale, but they have several issues that must be considered before making a significant investment. Growing Nile perch in cages is sustainable because you don’t have to feed the fish, as with other species such as tilapia.

Because the Nile perch is large, their cages have nets that allow the surrounding small fish to swim freely in and out, becoming food for the larger fish. Diseases can spread rapidly through fish cages and are difficult to treat with chemicals. Because of this, many smaller cages are recommended over a few larger ones. Stress-related diseases are common when fish are kept in cages during winter, making year-round production difficult. 

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Perch Fish Farming
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Advantages of Nile perch farming

  • There’s a very high fish production per unit volume of water. 
  • Requires relatively less investment per unit of production than pond or land culture. 
  • The cost of starting a cage industry, including cage material feeds, fingerlings, security, a boat to access cages, and labor – can range from US $ 4,300 to the US $ 590,000. 
  • Using existing water bodies reduces the demand for water on land, which means less industry. 
  • There is also ease in moving cages from one site to another and access to operational methods, such as feeding and cleaning nets. 
  • Ultimately, the profits of cage farming depend, among other things, on the species culture, management level, input costs, and market prices. 
  • The first maturity of the Nile perch is about three years, and it can last up to 16 years, with each individual being able to grow several times and give many fry/fingers. 
  • The Nile perch can be an important habitat for this fish species in brackish (inland saline areas) and freshwater bodies such as lakes, rivers, reservoirs, and irrigation routes. Also, this fish is raised artificially from natural aquifers to man-made aquifers for aquaculture and fishing purposes, where adults live in deep water. At the same time, juveniles are found in shallow water.
  • Food hygiene and safety is a technological order in the modern science and scientific community that points to and focuses on the entire food chain, starting with food production, handling, processing and storage, and the incidence of foodborne infections. If not used properly in food production, handling, and processing, many food-related diseases can result in human health, including loss of life, due to negligence. Food hygiene, safety, and quality are critical global fish trade and market issues.

Stages of Nile Perch fish growth

Nile perch is big, and it is not uncommon for a mature Nile perch to be more than 195 cm long and weigh more than 200 kg. They need warm water for such large growth, and in a tropical lake like Lake Victoria, they will occupy all the lake’s habitats. However, juveniles are found only in shallow waters, usually near the coast. The Nile perch is usually found in high densities and eats fish, insects, and large crustaceans. They eat young Nile perch and fry plankton. 

The Nile perch becomes mature at three years of age, and since it can live up to 16 years, each individual can reproduce multiple times and produce more offspring. They also grow for most of the year, and a single female perch can lay up to 16 million eggs at a time. The female Nile perch begins to grow when it grows to 50-80 cm. When the female collects the eggs and is fertilized by the male, the eggs are left alone. Nile perches do not guard eggs or raise fry.

Adult Nile perch shows silver with a blue tinge. Their eyes are black and very distinct, with a bright yellow outer ring. The adult Nile perch is somewhat similar to the adult Barramundi fish, but the Barramundi is not capable of breeding in freshwater lakes. Many disproportionately wide marks hide juvenile Nile perch on their body, and many black marks spread from the area around their eyes. These markings will gradually disappear as they get bigger. 

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Perch Fish
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Nile perch fishing 

Small-scale fishing boats are driven mostly by sailing, and paddles are used on the smallest boats. However, the number of boats powered by outboard engines is increasing, indicating a high investment in local Nile perch fishing. One to three fishermen use one boat. Fish are caught mainly by flower nets, hand lines, and sometimes (short) long lines. Those caught in the gill nets usually die when the nets are lifted.

The fish are kept in unsecured or ice boats and taken to landing sites, mostly on beaches, where company buyers weigh them and buy them by boat or vans insulated with ice, or fish are bought by local women. Fishing also creates indirect employment for additional fish processors, transporters, factory workers, and others. Across the lakeshore, ‘Boom Towns’ has been developed in response to demands from fishing crews who have the money to spend a day fishing. 

Fishing for the Nile perch is primarily done with live bait or catching fish and trolling with large plugs or spoons. There may be some casting, especially in small areas of rivers where fish are more likely to be in ponds. The bait can include any common fish up to a pound, especially tilapia and a tiger fish. In lakes, anglers focus on rocky bays and inlets. The Nile perch is a good fighter for small and medium sizes and is very brute in the heavyweight class.

They make a lot of regular runs, and if they are big enough, they can take a lot. Anglers who fish with large natural baits often use very heavy tackles and lure large specimens. It is more difficult for river dwellers to land than for those living in lakes, especially for anglers who have to catch fish off the coast; boats do not help chase fish, and you have to deal with currents and edges. Large numbers of water hyacinths increase the difficulty of catching large fish in some rivers and lakes.

Nile perch raising in Ponds

The culture of ponds involves stocking fish in specially designed ponds filled with standing water. When properly managed, it is a proven and reliable source of fish production. All fish species suitable for aquaculture can be grown in standing water ponds. It is the most common method of fish culture. Water is maintained in an enclosed area by artificially created ponds where aquatic animals are reared.

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Perch Fish
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Ponds can be filled with canal water, rainwater, bore water, or other water sources. An efficient inlet and outlet system is essential for the successful operation of the pool system. It is the form of a pipe through which water enters and exits the system. The internal system of the pond should be slightly higher than the output system to get maximum water flow. A proper inlet and outlet system prevents the pond from overflowing in the event of heavy rains or minor flooding. It is very beneficial for the proper management of water quality. 

Digging your fish farm pond depends on the size of your fish farm pond; you will need either: 

  • A big shovel, a lot of energy, and a lot of time for hard work or; 
  • A bobcat or excavator can handle digging the area and the size of the pond. 

Filling the Pond with Water – To ensure the liner stays in place when filling the pond, you can place a good-sized stone in the center. It helps prevent the tarp from lifting and floating when there is minimal water in the pond. You must place some stones around the outer edge of the tarp to help prevent the water from falling as it gains weight. 

Once the fish pond is full, the weight of the water will help keep it in place. You can set up a pump system (if applicable). If you do not intend to use the pump system, you can work on introducing your fish. However, do not forget that fish need some oxygenated water to survive and grow healthy. You can give them oxygen by placing a running hose in the pool 2-3 weekly at 15–30-minute intervals. 

When introducing your fish from a fish pond, it’s a good idea first to let the water and dirt residue settle. Once ready, slowly start mixing the pond water into the bucket of water in which your fish are for 10 minutes; this will help them adjust to the new pH levels of the water. The fish farming business is a great way to provide you and your family with a sustainable food source. As your fish breed, you will know that you will have more than enough food to live on for years.

As the first month progresses, check your fish regularly to see if you can improve any part of the pond. It will help keep the fish pond running well for a long time. Ponds have generally proved to be the most economical means of fish production and obtaining the highest production of fish per unit of available water.

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Perch Fish in Hand
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Like cage culture, a regular program monitoring dissolved oxygen and other water quality variables is essential. Still, pond culture fish can avoid many water quality problems that kill caged fish. The Nile perch is housed in the same structure as the other small fish species. In this case, we allow both species of small fish to reproduce in large quantities, thus naturally providing food for the Nile perch.

The pond where the Nile perch is kept, however. Under normal circumstances, when fish species such as tilapia are bred, farmers resort to avoiding overproduction, which is difficult to manage, but Nile perch fish ponds. In other words, breeds of carnivorous fish prey on reproductive fingerlings, which makes it possible to control the parent stock population while at the same time feeding the larger fish.

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