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Factors to Consider When Building a Fish Farm Size and Shape of your Pond: Most ponds are rectangular

shaped however the size of your pond may be designed to suit the topography of the land 15 m x 20m or 6m x 12m. A pond for subsistence fish farming can be built in an area of 300m (sq) however commercial ponds are much bigger. Depth of your Pond: The water depth is usually 1m deep at the deep end and 30cm at the shallow end. Filling the Pond with Water and Protecting the Pond Before filling the pond with water, place rocks at the bottom of the rock on which the water will splash from the inlet pipe. This will prevent the rush of the water from eroding the bottom of the pond. Fill the pond slowly. Measure water depth with a pole or stick to know when the required depth is reached. Do not over-fill the pond. The overflow pipe is used to get rid of excess water. Water in the pond should not flow through as it slows down the growth of fishes. Water should be added to cover up for water losses as a result of erosion. Check for Problems before Stocking Fish: Watch the pond for about seven days to check for problems before stocking the pond with fish. Monitor the water quality after the pond is stocked. Fence the Pond: Fencing is appropriate to keep predatory animals and thieves away. Low cost fence can be made by planting a thick hedge around the edge of the pond or by building a fence using poles or bamboo.

Site Preparation Site preparation involves the following steps:

Clear the site by removing bush, trees, stones and other such unwanted materials. Measure and stake out the length and width of the pond. The pond dikes will extend several metres above the ground level Remove the top layer of the soil and deposit outside the pond area. The top soil can later be planted on the pond dikes. In the case of contour ponds, a clay core foundation for the pond dike is necessary to prevent water leakage.

Things you should know about constructing a Pond for your Fish Farm:

Ponds should be dug into the ground, partly below ground elevation or in the ground. Slopes should be packed to prevent erosion. Soil should contain at least 25% clay. Unwanted objects like branches, stones, grass should be removed from dikes. Pond depth should be 1m at shallow end, sloping to about 1.5 m at the drain end. Usually water is directed from the well, lake or other natural sources to the pond. Baffle boards, valves or tilt-over standpipes should be used for draining. Draining should not exceed three days. The water is usually is discharged or partially reduced to retain a certain percentage which is re-circulated. Ponds are usually situated on land with a gentle slope. Should be rectangular in shape 15m by 20m Or 6m by 12m. Ponds should have dikes and slopes at the bottom. Sufficient water should be available in the pond for a reasonable period of time. There is a need to maintain a certain water level. Water should be drained completely when fish is harvested The larger the production ponds, the more difficult t

Water Inlets and Outlets 5 things to Know about Water inlets and outlets

The water inlet consists of a big canal to bring in the water, a silt catchment basin, and a pipe to transfer water into the pond. The water entering the pond usually contains silt and soil which makes the pond muddy. A catchment basin stops soil from entering the pond. The water inlet pipe, which is about 15cm above water level, runs from the catchment basin through the pond dike into the pond. The water outlet is an overflow pipe used only in emergencies. Water should not flow out of the pond on a daily basis. The inlet and outlet pipes can be made of wood, plastic, metal or any other material. Pipes should have screens to stop fish from leaving the pond. Screens can be made from different materials like wire mesh, a loosely knit grass mat or clay pot punched with holes.

Sites for fish ponds

Site Selection: Proper site selection is important to the success of the fish farm. Soil type and water availability are two important factors to consider when choosing a location for your pond. Soil type: The quality of soil affects both the productivity and water quality. To check if the soil is suitable, soil texture and permeability should be tested. The pond must be able to hold water without it seeping through; this makes soil type very important. Water Availability: The availability of clean water is important for the success of any fish farm. A constant water supply is needed. Water should be available all year round thus the farmer should have alternative water sources. Water sources include rainfall, natural waters, springs and wells. Water temperature should be about 20 or 30C. Ways to Check Soil Suitability These are the three methods of checking soil suitability for pond construction: a) Squeeze Method b) Water Permeability Test c) Ground Water Test Squeeze Method: The following steps should be taken: Wet a handful of soil with just enough water to make it moist Squeeze the soil Then open your palm It the soil retains its shape after opening your palm then, its good for pond construction. Water Permeability Test

Fill the hole with water to the top Cover the hole with leaves By the next day, the water level should have reduced as a result of seepage. Refill the hole with water to the top and cover it once again with leaves. Check the water level the next day, if its still high, the soil is impermeable and suitable for pond construction. If the water has disappeared again, then it isnt suitable for fish farming.

Ground Water Test To get reliable results, this test should be executed during the dry seasons. The following steps should be taken:

Dig a hole to a depth of about one meter


Cover it with leaves to reduce the rate of evaporation If the hole is covered with pond water the next morning then a pond can be built however you will need more time to drain the pond due to high water level. If the hole is dry by morning, the site is suitable for fish farming because the water levels are not high. Soil quality Different soil characters deeply affect the quality of the pond construction and influence the future fish yield to some extent and even the crop yield. Therefore, soil quality should be carefully differentiated and chosen. The soil for pond construction should ensure nonleakage and no collapse for dykes. This is the most important thing for manured pond. Loam is characterized by conservation of water and fertilizer with proper ventilation. Therefore, it is the best soil for the dyke construction. Sandy loam is also good for water conservation; however, it has a weak coagulation so it is poor for dyke construction. Clay is good for water conservation. It can be used as soil materials for pond bottom, but not good for dyke, because it cracks when dry. If these latter two soils are used for dykes, the dyke crown should be widened and the gradient of slope decreased. Grit soil, sand soil and silty soil are greatly porous, poor in water and fertilizer retention.

Building and Protecting Pond Dikes Six things to Know While Building Dikes

Use soil dug out while making the clay core to build up the dike. Do not use sandy soil that contains sticks, roots and other unwanted materials as they will decay and leave a weak spot through which water can leak out. The soil must be compact; this can be achieved by trampling occasionally as one adds soil and sprays water on the dike. It can also be pounded with a hoe. The pond dikes should be about 30cm above the ponds water level. The pond dikes should have gentle slopes which prevents them from collapsing into the pond. One way to determine the strength of the dike is to walk slowly from the top of the dike to the bottom of the pond. If this is impossible, then the dike is too steep.

stocking your Fish Pond Stocking normally takes place after pond preparation and liming. Stocking is a means of introducing an adequate number of selected fish species of proper size into the ponds. It involves the transportation of live fish. Tips for Fish Pond Stocking:

To reduce stress during transportation, stop feeding fish 1-3 days before and during transportation. Stock fish in the cool early hours of the morning and reduce transport time as much as possible. It is better to stock only known freshwater species like Tilapia, Clarias and Common Carp and prevent introducing any unknown species. Contact an expert to assist with live fish transportation from hatcheries. Stock only healthy and disease free fingerlings. Acclimatize fish to conditions of stocking environment before its stocked. Acclimatization can be done by following these steps: Transfer fingerlings into a basin containing water used for transportation. Immerse container into the pond without mixing its contents. Leave for about 30 minutes. Mix water from pond gradually with the water in the basin. The basin is gradually lowered into the pond

Fish Feeding Attention should be given to feeding; it only increases production, it also helps the farmer to assess the behavior and health status of the fishes. Supplemental fish feeds are usually obtained from agricultural by-products. They include oil cakes, industrial residue (e.g. brewers waste), animal by-products (like blood meal) and wastes (like chicken droppings). It is necessary to feed fishes with a balanced diet which is a combination of essential nutrients in different proportions. The following are important during fish feeding:

Use locally available foodstuff to reduce cost.


Prepare feeds in small quantities to avoid loss and reduction in quality. Package and store feed properly in jute bags with polythene lining, bins with lids to avoid infestation. They should be stored in cool, dry places to avoid reduction in quality. Feed fish twice at specific times, usually 10 am and 5pm. Avoid overfeeding to prevent water pollution as unconsumed feed decomposes to release harmful gasses that can stunt fish growth. Monitor growth performance by visual observation during feeding.

Learn to Prepare Fish Feeds Some essential ingredients for feeds and their sources include:

Proteinfish meal, groundnut cake, soyabean meal, blood meal, palm kernel cake and cotton seed cake. Carbonhydratecereals, meals and brans and cassava wastes. LipidsPalm, groundnut, palm kernel and fish oils. Mineralsbone meal and common salt.

The following steps are important in the preparation of fish feed:

Collect raw feed stuffs Weigh the required quantity of various feed ingredients according to the attached formulation specification. Grind ingredients to powdery form Cook the mixture with small water and add cooked cassava or corn starch Stir the mixture as cooking is going on to get a consistent paste Reduce the dough into smaller sizes by pressing against a perforated plate. Cut pellet strands into smaller sizes Dry the pellets in the sun Package dried pellets into bags for storage till its needed

Monitoring Water Maintenance

The water quality and quantity in the fish pond is very important to fish production. The following instructions should be followed carefully:

Quality water should neither be too acidic or alkaline. It should contain enough dissolved oxygen. It should not be muddy or have any offensive colour. Pond water should be free from pollutants like detergents, oil films and petrochemicals. Maintain pond water which should be green. Water PH level should be between 6.5 and 9. When the water PH level is low, and in acidic condition the water tastes sour and prevents phytoplankton growth, the pond should be limed using agricultural lime. You can contact an expert for assistance. Watch out for low dissolved oxygen which is revealed when fish come up to gasp for air, and when the water has an offensive colour. If symptoms of low oxygen are detected, take immediate action like stopping fertilization, reducing feeding rate, changing the water and replacing with fresh oxygenated water. Prevent run-off water from entering the pond by constructing proper drainage channels. Locate ponds far away from industrial centres, oil fields, and chemicals. This is the first step to preventing toxic pollution which can lead to death of fishes. Maintain pond water level especially during dry season. Replenish water by adding new water to influence water temperature. This is also good time to plant trees to provide shade for the pond. Remove thick black mud from the bottom of the pond from time to time.

Harvesting and Marketing Fish Harvesting is done when the stocked fish have reached a marketable size, determined by customer preferences. Most fish species attain this size between 7 and 12 months of stocking. You can partially harvest your Partial harvesting can be done when bigger fish are removed to allow smaller ones space to grow before total harvesting. The following steps may make better harvesting:

Advertise about some days before harvest at specific markets For convenience, make sales on farm or make adequate arrangement to transport fishes. Stop feeding fish about 1-3 days before harvesting.

Crop when the weather is cool, especially early in the morning. Sort fishes into species and size grades for marketing and consider total cost and market value before fixing prices. Keep record of yield and sales. For maximum returns, market fish alive or smoked. To reduce stress, smoking and sales of the fish can be contracted out.

Pest and Disease Control on the Fish Farm Pest and diseases need to be controlled on the fish farm to increase productivity. Common unwanted predators on the fish farm include birds, frogs, reptiles, insects, wild fish and man. Fish loss can be caused by diseases, overcrowding, reduction in quality of feeding, environment and water quality. This can equally lead to death of fishes by oxygen depletion, fouling by decomposition of dead weed, reduction in production in productivity by covering water surface thus reducing fish movement. Tips to control pests and diseases:

Dry and treat the bottom of the pond regularly. Ensure the water supply inlet is always screened to stop organisms from entering the pond. Clear unwanted vegetation in and around the pond. Maintain good fences around the pond. Use palm fronds, netting or bamboo to hinder entrance by human poachers. Have routine checks for fish enemies and eliminate as soon as they are spotted. Supply and maintain the quality of the water by preventing inflow of detergents, petrochemicals, and industrial wastes. Avoid overcrowding of the pond. Provide balanced meals for the fish. Do not feed fish on decay feed. Avoid overfeeding. Remove any infected fish from the ponds to curtail the spread of infections. Control or remove weeds by simple hand weeding or using rakes, cutlasses or hooks attached to poles.

Avoid chemical control methods as much as possible. Consult an expert if you plan to pursue these methods.