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Zeljko Serdar
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How Do I Get Started in Aquaculture?

Posted by Zeljko Serdar about 12 years ago

We have attempted to include as much information as possible for beginning and experienced fish farmers. While the information compiled here is not all-inclusive, we have tried to be as thorough as possible, covering all the various types of aquaculture.

How Do I Get Started in Aquaculture?


As part of our aquaculture initiative, the Croatian Center of Renewable Energy Sources (CCRES) has started the CCRES aquaponics  program. This Web site is part of that program. We have attempted to include as much information as possible for beginning and experienced fish farmers. While the information compiled here is not all-inclusive, we have tried to be as thorough as possible, covering all the various types of aquaculture relevant to Croatia. If you would like to submit any information for our Web site, please contact us.
Specal thanks to :
Indiana Soybean Alliance
5730 W 74th Street
Indianapolis, IN 46278
for giving us great source of informations.

How Do I Get Started in Aquaculture?   

The most important activity anyone considering fish farming should conduct is developing and writing a business plan.

Here are some of the basic steps.

Business Planning    

Writing a business plan is the single most important step a farmer can take when determining if aquaculture is something they want to explore as a viable economic investment. A well-developed business plan will cover all aspects of an aquaculture business, from species and production systems, to economics and marketing. Failing to complete a business plan is one of the primary reasons for business failure!

Feed Management   

Feed management, from buying the correct feed and proper feeding rates to properly storing feed, is essential to managing fish health and growth. Excellent feed managers not only save money by not wasting feed, they also optimize production potential on their farms. Every farm will likely have a different feed management strategy as production criteria like feeding rates and growth rates will be impacted by species selection, production system, environmental conditions, among other things. Proper feed management should be implemented as part of an overall best management practices plan.


Aquaculture in Croatia doesn’t have a well-established track record like other forms of agriculture, so acquiring funds and insurance from traditional farm sources can be difficult.  Lenders and insurers will want to see a well-developed business plan with income and cash flow statements before they consider funding/insuring an aquaculture operation.  They may also want to see a best management practices plan.  Please visit the other sections to get more information covering these and other topics.


Filling out financial statements is one of the critical steps in developing a viable business plan. The following spreadsheets were developed to help new producers manage a business venture in aquaculture. There are different spreadsheets available depending on production system: Recirculating (RAS), pond or cage. There are examples provided as well, but these should only be used as a guide as many of the numbers will vary depending on your business specifics. The following material can be used to help plan and build a successful business in aquaculture.

Fish Health
Animal health is perhaps more of a challenge in aquaculture than any other type of livestock agriculture. There are very few veterinarians actively involved in fish health, thus it is often difficult for fish producers to obtain veterinary services. There are also few approved drugs available to treat sick fish. For these reasons, it is critical for fish farmers to implement a best management practices (BMP) plan that encourages fish health. The most common cause of fish disease is stress, and a well-developed BMP will help farmers minimize stress to their livestock.

As with most specialty and niche crops, fish farmers in Croatia typically have to market their own product. This can be done in a variety of ways from local farmers markets and restaurants, to ethnic markets and restaurants in large metropolitan cities. Farmers should always have more than one market identified for their fish to be sure that they will always be able to sell product. This is especially critical for farmers who want to acquire funds from traditional agricultural lenders. Another option is for a group of farmers to start a marketing cooperative that can allow them to enter larger markets that would not be open to individual farmers because of the smaller scale of their business.

Production Systems

More information about specific production systems :

Cage Systems           

Cage farming is simply raising fish in a large, submerged cage that can be used in a pond that otherwise might not be ideal for farming. An ideal location for a cage production farm would be in a pond/private lake that is too large for traditional pond aquaculture or is unsuitable for another reason (perhaps it is too deep, or cannot be drained). Cages can be floated throughout the pond and accessed either via a dock or boat.

160fs - What is Cage Culture.pdf
161fs - Cage Site Selection Water Quality.pdf
162fs - Cage Construction Placement Aeration.pdf
163fs - Cage Species Suitable.pdf
164fs - Cage Handling and Feeding.pdf
165fs - Cage Problems.pdf
166fs - Cage Harvesting Economics.pdf
281fs - Cage Tilapia.pdf
FA04800 - Cage Management.pdf

Larval Feed
Feeding larval fish can be difficult and depending on the species of fish, commercially formulated diets might not be available. Many fish farmers rely on feeding live feed to their larval fish until they are big enough to start eating formulated feeds. Farmers can rely on the natural productivity of ponds to grow their live feed, or they can utilize indoor production systems. These production systems are often smaller and specialized for raising small, often microscopic, live feed organisms.

701fs - Larval Feed.pdf
702fs - Artemia.pdf

Pond Systems           

Pond aquaculture is the most traditional type of aquaculture in the world. It has been producing fish in Asia and Africa for thousands of years. Most of the available fish farming information is based on pond aquaculture.

100fs - Levee Pond Site Selection.pdf
101fs - Levee Pond Construction.pdf
102fs - Watershed Pond Site Selection.pdf
103fs - Calculating Area Volume.pdf
280fs Pond Tilapia.pdf
395fs - Pond Inventory Assessment.pdf
460fs - Pond Clay Turbidity.pdf
462fs - Pond Nitrite.pdf
463fs - Pond Ammonia.pdf
464fs - Pond Water Quality Considerations.pdf
466fs - Pond Algae Blooms.pdf
468fs - Pond Carbon Dioxide.pdf
469fs - Fertilizing Fry Ponds.pdf
470fs - Pond Effluents.pdf
471fs - Pond Fertilization.pdf
700fs - Pond Zooplankton Larval Feed.pdf
Aquatic Weed Control in Ponds.pdf
FA00800 - Pond Copper Use.pdf
FA02100 - Pond Aeration.pdf
FA02800 - Pond Lime Use.pdf
FA03200 Pond Potassium Permanganate.pdf
TB114 - Plankton Management.pdf
wrac-104 - Pond Fertilization.pdf
wrac-106 - Settling Basin.pdf

Recirculating Aquaculture Systems
Recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS) are the newest form of fish farming production system. RAS are typically an indoor system that allows for farmers to control environmental conditions year round. While the costs associated with constructing a RAS are typically higher than either pond or cage culture, if the system is managed properly to produce fish on a year round basis, the economic returns can make it worth the increased investment. RAS are the most complex aquaculture systems and beginners should plan on making a significant time commitment to learning how to operate a system.

103fs - Calculating Area Volume.pdf
451fs - RAS Critical Considerations.pdf
452fs - RAS Management.pdf
453fs - RAS Component Options.pdf
455fs - RAS Pond Systems.pdf
456fs - RAS Economic Spreadsheet.pdf
AA21200 - Energy Costs.pdf
FA05000 - RAS Principles.pdf
facts5 - RAS Prudence Pays.pdf

Barn Conversion
There has been a lot of interest in converting livestock buildings to fish production. While a “model” has yet to be developed, the material below has been presented at several different workshops focusing on converting livestock barns to aquaculture.

Barn Conversions for Aquaculture 3-8-07.asx


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