There are various small business opportunities in the fish farming industry. But today we will focus on getting started by farming Tilapia fish.

What is Tilapia?
Tilapia (pronounced tih-LAH-pee-ə) is the common name for nearly a hundred species of cichlid. Tilapia are mainly freshwater fish inhabiting shallow streams, ponds, rivers and lakes and less commonly found living in brackish water.

In recent decades it has become a popular food; in the US it is the fourth most commonly consumed type of seafood. Tilapia is an inexpensive, mild-flavored fish which will do well in a country like South Africa where the majority is poor. Any cheap food source will do well in a country like SA, but more so fish as there are not a lot of cheap fish options. It is also a popular small business in other parts of the world, but there are not a lot of Tilapia farms in South Africa.

Why Tilapia?
Tilapia is an ideal fish for farming because it doesn’t mind being crowded, grows quickly and consumes a cheap vegetarian diet. These qualities translate to a relatively inexpensive end product. Some people even call tilapia the “aquatic chicken” because it breeds easily and has a bland taste. People are divided on the taste, as some consider it a bit too tasteless while others like a less fishy fish which also allows for more flavoring options. Tilapia is an excellent source of protein and nutrients, although some do not like its fat content. As an affordable food source it should do well locally.

Farming strategy & Business model
There are a few places in South Africa that sell startup kits, I have looked at a few and I don’t really like their numbers regarding their equipment (particular the startup capital required), I feel it can be done with less capital with a DIY approach (I’m referring to the equipment here), but if you have capital you can buy production units, tunnels etc. but this is a fish that can be farmed and is farmed in rudimentary dams.

The fingerlings
The are also places you can buy the juvenile fish from called fingerlings, to use a poultry correlation; it is like buying day old chicks. If you don’t have a source of juvenile fish to start with, then this will also help you choose a specific species.

How to sell your Tilapias
Tilapias are usually sold in three formats: frozen, fresh or live. Where you sell it, or who you sell it to will dictate how you sell it.

Resources
Type Farming
Guides Tilapia farming can be done in SA
Small-scale fish farming
South Africa’s potential pond farming bonanza
Sector Farming
See also Farming Business Ideas in South Africa

Image credit:  Ramon FVelasquez


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