Small scale aquaculture ventures must be carefully considered

Starting small and adequate planning can reduce risk and improve chances of success.

As entrepreneurs and investors evaluate population growth trends, migration patterns and housing preferences, conclusions about the increased need for food becomes evident. For the entrepreneur and investor, aquaculture using recirculation systems, is an emerging industry. These entrepreneurs and investors are considering the repurpose of a vacant existing building in overlooked urban centers as a place to grow fish of various species for sale in local markets.

Choosing equipment is one important aspect in developing a recirculation system. For the beginning entrepreneur who intends to be an owner operator, a low cost system using tanks, a sump, a filtration system, water pumps, and aeration device are the basic component. The tanks, sumps, and water filtration containers can all be made from reuse of food grade plastic barrels and IBC totes. This low investment method allows the entrepreneur to get started and to learn the necessary processes, and to develop the business relationships that will lead to success. More capital intense systems are available for sale, but the risk is greater for the starting owner operator.

Other important factors affecting success is the choice of species, cost of heating and cooling, cost of feed and labor. The entrepreneur must evaluate each of these factors and determine the best way to move forward. Markets must also be carefully considered. Knowing what you can sell and the terms are important. Having the customer’s specs and a forward contract will be helpful in projecting pro-forma budgets.

If you are interested in pursuing an aquaculture project, educators at Michigan State University Extension and Innovation Counselors at the Michigan State University Product Center assist businesses in the establishment of good practices to improve business effectiveness. For further information and assistance with employee communications please contact your local Michigan State University Extension office.

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