Tilapia Fish Farming & Marketing

Earth ponds and Cages

By Uri Ben Israel an Aquaqulture expert

Choosing this method, the aim is to establish a fish farm capable of growing and marketing any amount of Tilapia per year.

It  will raise tilapia fish in earth ponds utilizing the advantages in the selected area.

Why Tilapia? and why in West Africa?

Tilapia Fish

First and foremost, it is amongst the favorable fish worldwide. The demand for tilapia is much acceding supply and that why prices of tilapia remain high.
Another important advantage is the reproduction and production ability of the tilapia species. West Africa has extremely good conditions for raising Tilapia due to the quantity and quality of the water and due to optimal weather conditions all year round.
Tilapia is a native African fish; it is very resistant to disease and therefore ideal for the earth- pond or cages rearing system proposed in this project.

The increasing demands encourage many growers to enter into tilapia production worldwide. Tilapia belongs to the Cichlid family of fishes. It is one of the major groups of food fish around the world, especially in the tropical and semi-tropical areas. Tilapia has been called "Saint Peter's fish" in reference to biblical passages about the fish fed to the multitudes.

Israeli fish farm - Reservoirs and earth ponds

Earth Ponds

Fry Production Process

Example for a system of Brood-stock and sex reversal: Three groups of brood-stock (parents) 400 females + 150 males which will produce 2.500.000 fry per year.

Breeding stock enter the production cycle of 14 days in the spawning ponds. After 14 days the fry are separated from their parents and transferred to the sex reversal ponds.

Way Sex reversal?

  1. By producing 100% males we prevent the fish from reproduction. It is essential to control the number of fish in each pond.
  1. Tilapia male is faster growing by 30-40% then Tilapia female.

The process of sex reversal is accomplished by providing high quality feed with a male hormone supplement (testosterone) which changes the fry to 98% male. Duration of treatment: 25-30 days.

The "Hormone supplement" – It is come with portions of 10 kg of high quality fish feed (45% protein) mix with 0.6 gram of a male hormone (testosterone).  To mix the hormone with the feed, we use 4 litter of alcohol which spread the very little hormone on the feed. Eventually the alcohol is evaporates and disappear.

Nursery: The fry after sex reversal are transferred into nursery ponds in two stages until they reach 50 grams.

Stage A – size of 1 gram – 20 gram in 50 days in a density of 200.000/Hact.

Stage B – size of 20 gram – 50 gram in 25 days in a density of 100.000/Hact.

Tilapia fingerlings

Tilapia Fingerlings

Grow out fish: The fish are stocked at size of 50 gram until they reach market size of 450 - 500 grams market size.

Stage A- size of 50 gram – 150gr. in 50 days with the density of 40.000/hect.

Stage B – size of 150 gr. – 300gr. in 50 days with the density of 25.000/hact.

Stage c – size of 300 gr. – 500gr. in 50 days with density of 20.000/hact

Production time intervals:

  • Spawning: ~14 days
  • Sex reversal: ~ 25 - 30 days
  • Nursery for size of 1 gram to 50 grams:~ 75 days
  • Growth from 50 gram to market size: ~ 150 days.
Intensive red Tilapia pond 

Intensive earth pond


Fish Breeding Methods

 1.    System: semi intensive

 2. Cages system: small (6x6x5). Big size: (800-1500 SqM)

 3.    Pond types: Earth.

 4.    Size: 0.5 hectare (for nursery & grow out) 0.25 for sex reversal.

 5.    Water supply: pumping from the reservoir/ well+ recycling water from the main canal back to the ponds or to the reservoir.

 6.    Daily water replacement: 5-10%

 7.    Water entry to ponds: 6'' pipes.

 8.    Water drainage from ponds: 8" pipes.

 9.    Water Transporting from ponds and pumps: by canals and pipes.

10.   Method of enriching oxygen to the ponds: paddle wheel and flow-through water.


The Process

Minimum transfer of fish from one pond/cage to another is done so as to protect the fish, save work hours, and avoid days when the ponds are unproductive (i.e., ponds without water or fish). When the fish reach the desired size, they are transferred to another pond dedicated to the next stage of growth or they are sent to market.

Transferring the fish between ponds/cages or to the market is done in special containers with water and oxygen that are hauled by tractors. Similar containers can be transported by truck.

Harvesting the fish is carried out by an experienced team equipped with fish nets and other fishing equipment.

                                                                                                                                          paddle wheels aerators, in earth pond                                                                                                                               

Adding oxygen by paddle whiles
Water quality parameters:                                                                                                         

1.    Water temperature: 22– 30C                

2.   PH: 6.5 - 9.0 (related to water temp.).

3.    Oxygen level (o2) required < 5 mg/L.

4. Free Carbon Dioxide - 2 - 12 mg/L

5. Total Alkalinity - 10 - 100 mg/L

6. Total Hardness - 50 - 250 mg/L

7. Salinity - 1 -15 ppm.  

8.    Drinking water for the farm will be supplied by the water sources in the area.  

9.    The water for operating the fish ponds will be pumped from the Reservoir Rivers or ground water.


 Fish Feed

Required feed for fry: ground 40-48% protein

Required feed for fingerlings: pellets of 35-42% protein

Required feed for grow out fish (market sized): floating pellets of 30-35% protein.

Feed requirements for the farm is estimated 1.5 – 2.0 kilograms of feed to produce 1 kilogram of market-size fish (FCR).

Feeding Table:

Feeding Table


Type of fish feed – All fish feed are pelleted with different variety of size and protein content.  

Fingerlings size 1 gram to 20 gram getting feed with 35% protein + 4.0 fat.

Fish from 20 gram to market size getting feed with 32-35 protein + 3.0 fat.


Implementation timetable:

         Measuring and designing

         Digging and infrastructure setup

         Equipments order

         Farming Methodology study

         Imploying workers

         Training  

         Management

         Sale and marketing


Contact us: uribenis@gmail.com