One of the newest and most rapidly developing parts of agriculture is that of growing animals in water. This science is called aquaculture. Many of the food we eat were grown in the water. The amount of fish and seafood eaten by Nigerians is increasing each year. Experts tell us that eating fish is nutritious and makes a good addition to the diet. It is high in protein and low in calories. The fat content is lower than that of red meat, and it helps prevent health problems. As people become more health conscious, the demand for fish and seafood will increase.
Only during the past 20 years has aquaculture become a major industry in this country. Up until that time, most of the fish sold in the markets were caught from the wild. The ocean simply cannot sustain enough fish to meet the demand. To provide people with a supply of fish, fish farms came into production. Fish are very efficient farm animals. This means that a pound of weight can be put on these animals with less feed than other agricultural animals.
Modern aquaculture is not about “giving a man a fish so that he can eat for a day nor teaching a man to just fish for himself” Successful fish production is trying to teach the man to fish to feed himself, his family and then to sell a bulk to the world.
By far the most important fish grown in Nigeria is the catfish. These are raised in all parts of the country because they are fresh-water fish. Catfish are different from most other fish. They have smooth skin instead of scales. They are meaty and have a mild flavour. Also, catfish fits well into farming operations because they are hardy and tolerate relatively low oxygen content in the water.
The production of catfish begins with the breeding process. Through a system called selective breeding, superior fish are used to provide eggs for hatching. Factors such as growth rate and meatiness of the fish are used to determine which fish are superior.
In the cooler environment, trout, Atlantic salmon, and striped bass are raised. These are known as cool-water fish because they thrive in water that is below 65 degrees fahrenheit. These fish require free-flowing clean water. They must also have higher oxygen content in the water than catfish. For these reasons, trout and salmon are usually raised in concrete structures called raceways. Here water flows constantly. This not only helps keep the water clean but helps keep the oxygen levels high. The spawning of cool-water fish is different from that of catfish.
Crustaceans are aquatic animals that have an exterior skeleton and three body parts-the head, thorax, and abdomen. Included are shrimps, crayfish, and prawns. These animals have been used as food for thousands of years. Although tons of these animals are harvested in the wild each year, many are raised by farmers.
The major shrimp producing countries are located in the eastern hemisphere. China, Thailand, the Philippines, Taiwan and Japan are major producers.
Shrimps farms are generally located near the ocean because they have to be raised in salt water. Prawns are sometimes referred to as freshwater shrimp. These animals have to be grown in very warm water 75 to 95 degrees F.
Growing ornamental fish
One of the fastest growing segments of aquaculture is the growing of ornamental fish. A favourite hobby of many people is raising tropical fish in home aquariums. These fish come in a wide variety of sizes, shapes, and colours. These fish can be very valuable. Because of their value, extra care and expense can be invested in their production. Most tropical fish are raised in what is called a closed-loop system. This system consists of a tank, a filtration system, and an aeration system. An ornamental fish called the koi is gaining popularity. This fish is specie of carp and has varying patterns of gold, white, and black colours. These fish can be quite expensive. Breeding ornamental fish of the right colour and colour pattern have been known to sell for millions of naira.
Tilapia has become the third most important fish in aquaculture after catfish and carp; worldwide production exceeded 1,500,000 metric tons in 2009 and increases annually, because of their high protein content, rapid growth and palatability. Tilapia is among the easiest and most profitable fish to farm due to their omnivorous diet, tolerance of high stocking density, and rapid growth. Commercially grown tilapia is almost exclusively male. Being prolific breeders, female tilapia in the tanks will result in large populations of small fish.
Aquaculture is a departure from the traditional concept of agriculture. This relatively new industry will likely grow even more as we are now in the 21st century. Someday, aquaculture crops such as lobsters, bullfrogs, and other animals now harvested from the wild may be widely produced. Agricultural research will find a way to make this happen.
At Jovana Farms, we lay more emphasize on how to produce quality and fast growing fish. These skills are readily taught to participants at our nationwide seminars or through our self-tutorial VCD and books.
- 140 Capital Market Operators May Lose Licences
- Government Has No Business In Business- Gbenga Daniel