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Small Farms Income – Raising Fish

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Sale of fresh fish for eating

If you have a pond on your land, that is really all you need to get started with raising fresh fish and making extra money.

On the other hand fish farming does not always require a natural body of water.   You can start create fish ponds or invest in fish tanks. Small scale farms are the usual suppliers of fish in their local supermarkets and restaurants. Fresh fish that will always find a market include:

• Tilapia
• Cod
• Catfish
• Eel
• Grass carp
• Rainbow and Silver Trout
• Tuna
• Salmon

Fish such as tilapia, cod, and catfish are very popular choices, because they are particularly easy to raise and are generally in high demand.


Aquaponics has a long history dating back thousands of years to ancient China, where rice paddy fields were combined with farming fish such as carp and eels.

It  combines two practices in a symbiotic way:

  • Hydroponics,
  • Aquaculture, which is growing fish or other aquatic animals.

Fish produce waste that is converted by bacteria into nitrites that are used to feed the plants. This means farmers can produce crops without requiring much water or land area or other agricultural inputs.  Aquaponic systems consist of:

  • A rearing tank where fish are kept;
  • A settling basin where uneaten fish food is captured by filters and removed;
  • A bio-filter where bacteria that nitrifies the aquatic animal waste can live;
  • A hydroponics system where plants are grown;
  • A sump to pump water around the whole system.

With the proper care and equipment farmers are able to sell $25,000 worth of crops in a year from a commercial aquaponics system in a 1,200 square feet greenhouse established for as little as $1,000.


Once you are underway with your fish breeding you could augment your income by operating a small-scale hatchery on your farm and selling fingerlings (juvenile fish) to other fish farmers.


Fishing is a very popular recreational activity in the U.S., so if you’re a fish farmer, you can start accepting visitors to fish in your ponds or lakes. See below for suggestions for opening up a private fishing venue.
Fish for fish or pet shops
You could breed fish for fish tanks.
– Cold water fish for domestic tanks/ponds, e.g. goldfish, swordtails, guppies etc.
– Tropical fish for specialist heated fish tanks

Private fishing

Private fishing dam or lake – of two types, catch-and-release just for the pleasure of fishing or catch-and-keep, paying for weight of fish caught. You would need to manage stocking of the lake and provide parking and toilet facilities.

A good marketing strategy to help you boost sales, especially if you charge per pound of fish, is to create an area for barbecuing or a rustic style restaurant where visitors can ask to have their freshly caught fish cooked for them. You could also sell tackle and bait.


Note: dollar amounts mentioned are given at time of publishing and subject to change.

Please see the Earnings Disclaimer associated with these articles.

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