What Is Fish Farming?

Fish farming has become an increasingly popular way for people to raise their own source of edible fish, right in their backyard.

The idea of fish farming may have once sounded like a silky, eccentric concept, but today it can be a lurcrative business. Do you think that lobster at the seafood restaurant and all that shrimp will just continue to come from the ocean? Not even mother nature is an unlimited supply of fish, which is why we see an increase today in lobster farms or shrimp farms, etc. We are simply using the vast supply given to us by nature faster than it can reproduce itself.

As interesting as "aquaculture" is, large scale fish farming is not what will be covered here. We will be looking at fish farming for the single family or homestead, from the benefits of raising your own supply of fish to the equipment needed to do so.

So, with the abundance of fish on the market shelves, in whatever form, why would anyone want to go to the trouble of sustaining their own fish farm?

First of all, the alleged "fresh" fish in stores can be rather pricey, and if fish is a major source of your protein requirements, then you may want to consider investing in your own continual supply.

Secondly, commercial fish is more likely to contain high amounts of pesticides. If you raise your own fish properly, they are guaranteed to be healthier, without additional pollution residues.

Third, farmed fish has a higher fat content than commercial fish, but it is monounsaturated so it helps raise good cholesterol (HDL) levels but not the bad (LDL).

To raise your own fish you will need good water with a pH of 7, a temperature of 55 degrees F, and a high oxygen content. There is simple equipment that can be used to achieve these ideal conditions.

To begin with, you need a tank. A tank can be a small swimming pool the size of 12 feet across and up to 3 feet high. Or, you can make a more permanent concrete structure and coat it with waterproof compound.

Along with the tank you will also need an aerator and a filter. An aerator is needed as fish need plenty of oxygen to survive, and studies have shown that constant aeration can double fish production. You can find commercial aerators at a few farm supply stores that carry aquaculture supplies and set it up in your tank, or you can purchase a submersible spray fountain.



Homemade filters are made from a large metal drum filled with gravel or rock. The filter needs to be set up with a hose from a pump going into the filter at the top, and then a hose or pvc pipe at the bottom for the water to come out of and drop back into the tank.

To keep your water in optimum condition you must regularly check the pH. As stated previously, it should stay at 7. If it becomes too alkaline (8 or above) add gypsum. If it becomes too acidic (6 or below) add lime.

The overall water temperature should remain at 55 degrees, but it honestly depends on what type of fish you are farming. The two most popular types of home farmed fish are catfish and trout. Catfish do well at temperatures of 85 degrees while trout thrive at 55 degrees. Some raise trout in fall and spring and catfish in summer. Large mouth bass are also popular for a home fish farm, preferring water temperatures near 70 degrees.

These types of fish should not be raised together. Not only because of the difference preferred in water temperature, but because they will not get along.

To actually begin farming your fish, you need to set up your tank with aerator and filter and run it for at least 10 days to get the water in optimum condition for the fish.

The best place to get your initial supply of fish is a fish hatchery, or someone else you know in the business. The best source for fish hatcheries near you is your local Department of Environmental Conservation. When you get your fish they will more than likely be in plastic bags, and, just as you do with indoor goldfish, set the bags, unopened, in your tank until they reach the same temperature and then the fish may be released.

Fish can be fed with a commercial food supply and/or fish scraps. Portions should increase as the fish grow but it is very important not to overfeed.

To harvest only a few fish at a time, use a net. If you desire to harvest them all at once you can drain your tank.

Fish farming is not a project that can be undertaken hastily or lightly. It requires commitment and work, but if you're a fish lover the rewards are well worth it.

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