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Fish Farming (Aquaculture) In Kenya

Investing in fish is becoming one of the promising enterprises in Kenya, particularly for the youth. This sector is one of the oldest agricultural sub-sectors introduced in Kenya at early stages of pre-independence. There has been a milestone for this sub-sector despite a number of ups and downs it faced along the way. Currently there are a number of fish breeding and multiplication centers scattered in the country. The emphasis is to ensure that the idea is borrowed and adopted by many as we address the issue of food sustainability and wealth creation.

Fish farming, just like any other viable enterprise, needs proper management for its success. The most critical stage is the juvenile stage where your fish are young and delicate. The growth rate at such period is picking and nutrient requirements are very high. Other management practices are also important and they should not be overlooked


The common fish breeds found in Kenyan rural include:

Cat fish

This is another common breed of fish found in most Kenyan ponds and other fish rearing units. It is well known for its ability to control tilapia population. Remember we mentioned it that tilapia are very prolific and really multiply very fast. This rate may not be in the carrying capacity of the ponds and there should be provisions to control the population in order to avoid depletion of important resources (space for optimum growth, air and feed material).
However, the breed faces some mythologies based on religious and cultural doctrines. Some have claimed that the breed should not be consumed since it lacks scales. Also, its meat:bone ratio is hoigh and limits the amount of flesh harvested from an individual fish. So, most farms have the breed purposefully not for productivity but for controlling the tilapia population (it ingests tilapia fingerlings)
Its adaptability to harsh conditions is good and can withstand long periods of feed unavailability.

Stocking density

For tilapia, stocking density is at about 5 fingerlings per square meter of the pond space though it may vary depending with the actual size of the fingerlings at this stage of stocking. Catfish are put at the rate of one for every five tilapia.
Ensure that you obtain you socking fingerlings from a reputable source. This will minimize the chance of losses to diseases and poorly prepared fingerlings
Catfish can be raised in different pond types. The above-the-ground pond is becoming common among fish farmers. It seems to be easy to construct and maintain as opposed to the underground fish pond.
Also, carrying out management practices like fish harvesting and supervision is easy with this system of pond construction. The idea is gaining popularity at a very high speed in Kenya. This is attributed to the fact that land resource is currently subdivided into small pieces that cannot support large conventional ponds. These simple structures can be raised on the ground and some other crops or alternative enterprises are incorporated underneath. Everything is aimed at maximizing on the use of available space. It requires simple structures like polythene material alongside some timber (wooden planks)

  • Fish should be fed on a regular basis.
  • Commonly fed twice in a day (early morning and late evening)
  • Avoid sudden changes in the kind of feed offered to the fish to minimize shock. Commonly used type of feed are fish pellets, crumbs or common poultry feed.
  • The secret behind success is that stock your own fish, which you know the source specify a permanent time of feeding fish, choose to feed them at 7am in the morning and 7pm at night.
  • Change the water every 3days, and clean the pond always.
  • sort the fish every month
  • The most successful part is that don’t vaccinate fish check them regularly to know their behavior
  • After the first two month, switch to local feed, and give them the right mixture.
  • All the ingredient must be accurate.
Tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus)

Tilapia is a very prolific breed of fish common in Kenya. They are believed to be omnivores and thrive well on a variety of feed material. The preference is based on good adaptability of the breed to rapid multiplication. However, the caution is always that you should avoid overpopulation in the ponds to ensure that competition for resources is kept as minimum as possible.

  • The breed is also a good survivor in Kenyan harsh climatic conditions and can tolerate moderately saline water with as high temperatures as up to 3O-36C
  • Tilapia grows faster to reach market size early
  • Their feed conversion efficiency is high. Feeding is done using common agricultural by products (maize bran, oil cakes, vegetables and manure). Sometimes inorganic fertilizers are used as fish feed.
  • Animals like poultry are raised along the fish ponds to fertilize the ponds, providing feed fish. This should be done in a manner that does not deplete oxygen for the survival of the aquatic animals.
  • Have ideal feed conversion ratio.
  • Apart from underground and raised fish ponds, most fish farmers are keeping tilapia in artificial/improvised water system like floating cages, tanks and recirculating aquaculture system.
  • Cost of feeding tilapia can be minimized by delayed feeding and locally available feed material like crop residues, kitchen wastes and animal by products.
  • Keep circulating the water medium for proper oxygen flow and this greatly boosts survival rates of the stock

Make provision to keep out losses from predation, theft and “swarming” (losses due to wondering). It is advisable to have a lockable screening material at the outlet of the pond. Cover the surface of the pond using a screened wire material. This will keep in check birds of prey like the hunting eagles, the kingfisher and many others.
Do not build a pond where the minnow is rare. The pond plants must have to be maximum. Pond plants reduces the food cost of fish cultivation. The pond ecosystem will be fish cultivation friendly. It will be free from all types of ammonia gas and full supply of oxygen. Different types of ducks can be raised in the pond and it will make sufficient oxygen supply for the fish.

Before pond construction, you have to give attention in some subject. What you should do before contracting a pond are described below:

Size of the Pond

The size of the pond depends on your farming type. If you want to cultivate fish to meet up your family needs, you can start in a small pond design. If you want to cultivate fish commercially you have to make a large one. The pond can be both square and rectangular sized. Square and rectangular sized pond are easy to build. A pond with an area of 250-300 square meter is best for family used fish pond. In commercial purposes the pond size can be any. The size of the pond should be right that which you can easily maintain.


The water depth will be 30cm in one corner and 100cm in another corner. Depth of the water depends on the species of fish you are cultivating. The depth of the pond can be more if you want to use it for reserving water for the dry season. Whatever the depth of the pond can be but it should have the well facilities for drainage. A well-drained pond is suitable for collecting fish. Pond constructing process is the most difficult and expensive way of fish farming. A pond should be constructed well because it is a long deposit and a pond can be used for several years. So, think more and more before building a pond.

Proper site selection for the pond.
  • Determine the appropriate area of the pond.
  • Make the shore of the pond strong.
  • It would be better if there are no big tree near the pond. These will unnecessarily become the pathing material for birds of prey.
  • Make an inlet and outlet path.
Fish Diseases

Almost all types of animal suffers by diseases once or more during its lifetime. Fish are not the exception. They also get affected by different types of fish diseases. Diseases are the main obstacle for successful fish farming. But due to various reasons pond fish suffers much than those in open source like the river and sea. This means the farmer has to pay maximum attention to proper management of fish for good performance. By using modern farming methods in fish farming we can reduce diseases in fish. The common diseases of fish and its remedy are highlighted below.

Ulcer disease of fish

The affected fish of this disease can be identified by red spots in its skin. The shape of this spot generally increase rapidly. The tail, back side and mouth are most affected places. If the farmer notices the fish infected fish in the pond, he/she should remove them immediately. The affected fish should be kept in 100 g of salt mixed with 10 litters of water. Allow sometime of stay in the solution before their re-introduction to the pond. To prevent this disease and keep the fish health well 1 kg of lime and 1 kg of salt should be applied before the winter cold seasons.

Stomach swelling

Ruhita fish and catfish are mostly affected by this disease. The main landmarks of this disease is that the color of its body become pale. Due to water storage in the stomach the belly of the fish become extended. The fish lose its body balance. Affected fish become restless and this is the main symptoms of disease. The rates of death are very high.
The water from the stomach should be removed by an emptying syringe. This should be followed by 25 mg of chloral fenicle injection for every one kg of fish. Alternatively, 200 mg of chlorem fenicle powder may be mixed with the fish feed and be fed to the fish. 1 kg of lime can be used according to the size of the pond.


For more information about fish farming, contact us on;


Phone: +254721642210

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Written by Kenya Farmers


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