The Rise of Aquafarming: How to Start Your Operation

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school of fish

To begin with, it’s important to note that aquafarming isn’t the same as traditional farming; rather, it’s the practice of raising aquatic animals such as fish, shellfish, and eels in tanks or enclosures, where they can be fed and cared for consistently without the threat of predators or inclement weather. 

An increasing number of farmers are turning to aquafarming to supplement their income; as such, there are a lot of opportunities out there to get involved with this emerging industry which can help you on this journey! Here’s how you can get started with your aquafarming operation.


Aquafarming, also known as fish farming, has been around since the earliest days of human civilization. Aquaculture was first practised in China more than 3,000 years ago! Today, fish farming is one of the most popular methods of food production in the world, and aquaculture has grown from being an important part of the ancient Chinese diet to an integral component of the global food supply chain. 


Start with the right fish

The fish you choose should be suited for your specific climate and geographical location. Tilapia are often used as they are a fast-growing species, reaching market size in approximately 6 months. Other possible species include carp, catfish, striped bass, salmon and trout. 


Taking into account your local environment is key—the fish you grow should do well in their natural habitat. For example, tilapia thrive in warm water with plenty of sunshine but cannot tolerate cold temperatures. 


Find out about different aquaculture operations in your area that might be able to help direct you towards species that will flourish where you live. If none exist near you currently then your first goal must be finding answers!


Location is Key

The best water for aquaculture is usually found at high altitudes, where large bodies of water (like lakes) are less likely to freeze. The largest aquaculture operations in America are located in Idaho, Washington and Oregon. 


If you live near a body of freshwater, it may be possible to start your farm by simply filling a trough with carp or tilapia. However, if your location doesn’t allow for such an operation, don’t worry—aquaculture has come a long way in recent years. Modern techniques include aeroponics and hydroponics, which involve growing plants without soil by feeding them directly through their roots with nutrients dissolved in water.

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Know your Tiers

It’s easy to think you can grow any fish you want in your aquaculture operation, but that is far from true. You must learn about all different varieties and their best-growing conditions, taking into account water temperature, food availability and what creatures could hurt them. Hint: You don’t want anything getting near your koi! 


Once you have a solid grasp on which types of fish are possible for your farm, it’s time to start thinking about how many. Knowing how many fish are needed per acre will help you determine how much land (and money) you need for your business.


Feeding systems, water delivery and fertilizers

The most important part of any farm is what happens outside, and that’s where your fish and shellfish come into play. For example, in tilapia farming, you can either build a concrete tank for raising them or an earthen pond. The latter option is cheaper but needs more intensive care.


Expect initial Expenses

If you’re starting a fish farm, you’ll need several pieces of equipment and supplies, including tanks, filters, nets, as well as food for your fish. Because these are consumable items and will eventually run out, it’s important to include them in your financial forecast. 


To estimate their cost (hint: figure on an average price), add up all your expenses for six months. If you have any high-end equipment or special tools that will last more than one year before needing replacement parts, factor those in too.


Setting up a Grow Bed vs. Racks

When it comes to aquaculture, a grow bed is almost always going to be more cost-effective than a rack system. However, when you’re just starting and don’t have a lot of capital at your disposal, setting up an aquaponics system can feel like something only large corporations with deep pockets can do. 


But that’s simply not true. With a little elbow grease and an eye toward savings, anybody can get started in aquaponics by building their own grow bed or racks. It just takes some time and basic carpentry skills—the same skills used to build furniture and desks at home anyway!

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Aquaculture system maintenance

If you have an existing aquaculture system, check its water quality. This is something that should be done regularly and involves testing both nitrates and ammonia levels. 


Keeping these under control is important for several reasons; nitrates at higher levels can lead to algae blooms in your water, while high ammonia is extremely toxic for fish (and humans). Both of these can kill off your population of farmed fish. 


In some cases, keeping levels low enough will allow you to harvest from a previously anoxic body of water; otherwise, adding plants or bacteria cultures can help oxygenate it. In general, most commercial farming operations are set up in either large enclosed tanks or ponds.


Keeping tabs on your fish with Technology

Automation can help save you money and allow you to spend more time enjoying your profits. From feeders that monitor how much food your fish are eating to cameras that let you keep an eye on them from anywhere, there are plenty of ways to stay on top of things without watching over your fish 24/7. 


Some devices even have sensors that detect water changes in real-time and prompt you when it’s time for maintenance, keeping everything running smoothly. Plus, many models offer cloud storage, so you’ll never lose footage again—or worse, miss out on a big catch!



In today’s increasingly conscious world, people are looking for ways to cultivate sustainable, environmentally friendly food sources. Aquafarming is a new phenomenon in which fresh water from lakes, rivers, or even seawater is filtered into fish farms to breed edible fish like tilapia or carp. It can be done anywhere there’s water – as long as there’s air for gas exchange and some means of moving waste away from where it will harm living organisms. As long as you have these three things, you can start an aquafarm with ease – and on your schedule!