Practical advice for profitable fish farming...

Why You Should Wait For Your Fishes to Mature


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As a result of poor financial planning and other factors which might include flooding, theft, poor growth, disease outbreak and so on, many farmers might decide to sell their grow-out fishes before they reach maturity. Among the factors mentioned earlier, poor financial planning often makes the farmer to sell before their stock matures. They believe that if they will not be able to feed their catfishes, the best option is to sell them off so that they will not lose the initial weight gained. Each farmer should have in mind, right from the beginning of raising their fishes, the time he or she wants to dispose his or her produce. The determination of each farmer should be guided by these two factors:

  • Target market for the fish
  • Maturity period of the species being raised

The “market” mentioned here may not be understood by non-fish farmers or sellers. However, in simple language, fish markets are in different categories. Each category is defined by the size of fishes expected in such market. There are four major fish markets across Nigerian environment, they are:

  • Extra Large Fish Market (called Onitsha Market in Nigeria): It is one of the regional fish markets where extra large fishes are sold. The fishes sold here are mainly average of 2.4kg and above. It takes an average of 6 – 9 months to achieve this size.
  • Large Fish Market (called Abuja Market in Nigeria): This is by far the largest catfish market in Nigeria. It can be categorized as the national catfish depot where people from almost every part of the country shop for their catfishes and catfishes are even exported in dry forms to Europe and America. This market permits all sizes of fishes; big, medium, small, smallest, etc. It takes an average of between 4 ½ months and 6 months to achieve these sizes.
  • Local Markets (township markets): This market is situated in and around towns and cities where catfishes are raised. It is termed local market because catfish sellers in these towns buy directly from local producers to sell to their numerous customers (catfish lovers) within the town. Sizes sold in this market ranges from 500 to 900 grams; four months of intensive feeding will give these sizes.
  • Dry Fish Market: A farmer produces for dry fish market when the size of his fish is not more than 500 grams at the time of harvest. It takes between 3 – 4 months to achieve this size depending on the species of the fish stocked.

From experience, it has been observed that bigger is always better for catfish markets. At this point, I would like to suggest that a farmer should allow his fishes to reach mature age of at least five months. This will enable him to benefit in the following ways:

  • Get the best from the fish feed formula: The hypothesis behind this point is simple. Small catfishes require much protein to grow well. The crude protein required ranges from between 42 – 45% of their feed intake. The same protein requirement could drop to as low as 35% in grow-out fishes of 1kg and above. The higher the crude protein of your feed, the higher the cost of feed produced, hence it is suggested that farmers should wait to maximize the right benefit from their feed formulation.
  • Get the best from the size of fish: Another benefit of leaving your fishes for at least five months is to achieve better returns as a result of improved sizes. Bigger catfishes cost more per kg than smaller ones – especially in Nigeria. The following is the current price list as at the time of this report:
                    SIZES              PRICE
2.5kg and above N550/kg
1.6kg to 2.4kg N520/kg
1 to 1.5kg N520/kg
600grams to 1kg N430/kg
Below 600grams N410/kg

Source: Market Survey February 2016.

  • Get the best from bone weight: catfishes get better and denser bone weight as their age advances. Allowing the fishes to reach mature age of 5 months will allow the farmer to get the best from their mature bone structure which will add to their weight since catfish markets is a weight market.

For any farmer to benefit from catfish maturity, he or she must wait. However, some catfish species mature earlier, say 4 months, while others mature late (5 months and above). For catfishes that mature in 4 months, there is no point keeping them for more than 4 months because keeping them beyond this age will amount to waste of money.


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  1. Olusegun

    This information are very key. Am learning fisheries with three concrete pond and one 30ft by 30ft earthen pond. I really found these information helpful

  2. Steve

    Hello Enny, do you know much about hetero branchus specie. I have some and need help with them. Kindly let’s talk on phone. I mailed you already.

  3. Michael

    Very comprehensive. Thank you. Please how much is catfish skin?

  4. Thanks for this. Do you think fish are still sold for the same price now? Considering the change in price of everything sir?

  5. Omotayo

    Great information, thanks a lot

  6. Victor ogunji

    Thanks for these educative lecture. For me to prepare these formula what do i do to get better result. 2. Can I get the all I need locally. Thank Victor.

  7. Raji

    My catfish initially has outstanding growth from juvenile to 10 weeks.however its growth has really slowed compare to how it started.some says its the feed formulation that has been altered(not to my knowledge). what can i do to make them regain their good growth..They are almost 4 months and are barely 600-700 grms


    Very good info.
    I am currently raising some fishes that I intend to take to 2.5 kg and above. The chanlenge now is the market, for the traders around don’t buy more than 1.5 kg size.
    I would appreciate if you can assist with the contacts of the onitcha fish traders.

  9. Benjamin Ogbonna

    Thanks so much about the information. Please I will like to speak with you. My address has been provided

    Kindly send me your contact.

  10. moses

    Thanks for the information. Pls is it compulsory to sort the fish?

    • OJI

      How about Tilapia or any other fish species? How can one get the fingerings et al?

  11. Anthony Adu

    Anthony Adu ,
    Sorting to get fishes of the same size will reduce unfair competition for feed and also cannibalism among some species

  12. Augustine Agboghidi

    How much do I need over o start up a 10,000 capacity fish farm I mean both the cost of feeding and and setting the farm up pls I need an accurate response

  13. Obinna nwamalubia

    Thanks for this info,Pls how often does one need to change the fish water and how often does one need to feed the fishes ?

  14. Suleiman danjuma musa

    Please mine is a question. How many months would it take me to grow a juvenile fish that weighs 7grams to maturity (at least 1kg)

  15. Adekunle

    Hello, I’m raising 1500catfish of which 24weeks will be completed by 6th of June 2019. Please I need buyers who can buy in bulk possibly at once and my farm is around Sango ota. Please contact me

  16. Majeed

    Am new to fishing will love to know more better

  17. Hamis Ali

    Thanks a lot Enny for a very useful information. I am currently in a catfish business, but a big challenge here in Tanzania East Africa is market for medium (700g – 1.5kg) and large (1.5kg – 2.5kg and above) catfishes, and I know about complications of abroad markets, do you have any idea about this, Sir?

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