Fish farming is a booming industry.  Fish consumption now accounts for approximately 17% of the animal protein consumed by the global population.  Aquaculture is poised to become one of the leading ways to meet the needs of feeding a growing population.  If you are considering starting a fish farming business, there are some facts you need to know:

  • One-half of the farmed fish in the United States are catfish. They are adaptable, and farms can thrive across varied climates in the United States.
  • The costs to get started in aquaculture vary greatly depending on what type of fish you hope to farm and how large an operation you are planning to start.
  • There is room for expansion. The United States is a relatively minor player in the global stage of fish farming. 
  • Organically raised fish from local sources command top prices. Consider selling them to your local community and local restaurants.

As with any business,  you need to understand what would be involved in the initial start-up of your business.  Do you have the land secured for your venture into aquaculture?  How much will it cost to prepare the structures you will need to operate?  Is there an established history of farming the kind of fish you want to cultivate in your climate? 

Once you have answered these questions, you are prepared to move forward to the serious stages of planning your business

  • Do your homework. Do you have at least a rudimentary knowledge of how to raise the type of fish you are hoping to market? If not, do you have someone with extensive knowledge on board to help you establish your operation?
  • Will you be raising fish containers, or do you plan to dig a pond? Either way, check into local laws and regulations concerning the use of your land.  Know what permits you will need.
  • Whether you are starting a back yard fish farm or container-based aquaculture, you will need equipment to build and maintain your farm. Do you have the personal finances to start your business, or will you need financing?  If you need funding, consider non-traditional forms such as:
  1. Family and friends. Family and friends can sometimes be the best option for a new business.  If you borrow the money from family or friends, be sure and draw up a contract specifying the terms of re-payment.
  2. Crowd-funding and micro-financing have become accessible sources of funding for new small business ventures.
  3. Peer-to-peer lending platforms can offer enough capital to get your business started with less stringent terms than traditional financing. Consider investigating Lending Club, Prosper, and Funding Circle to connect with other parties interested in your venture.

So, you know enough about fish farming to consider starting the business, you have a place to build the farm (whether it is a large outdoor pond or container farming in your basement), now you need the equipment to get started.  Scaled to size, the equipment you will need for operation:

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  • Pumps
  • Water testing equipment
  • Nets
  • Aeration equipment
  • Tanks, ponds, or other containers in which you plan to raise the fish

As with any business, you want to start making money as soon as possible. However, if you are new to fish farming, experts recommend that you start on a smaller scale. Starting small gives you time to learn the business and understand the potential hurdles you will encounter.  By starting below your means, you have room to grow your business as you learn. One failed crop or an aeration system that proves to be inadequate will not wipe out all your resources if you start small. 

Let your business grow organically along with your knowledge, equipment, and market-size.