“Aquaculture” is the term used for fish farming. A growing number of Harare residents have been acquiring the skill as a form of earning a livelihood. According to Aquaculture, Zimbabwe residents wonder whether it is feasible to farm fish in a swimming pool using the City Council treated water or their own borehole water. They suggest that if you are unsure, call in the experts to have your water tested under laboratory conditions.
There are three main breeds of fish which are farmed in Zimbabwe – tilapia (bream), trout and Kapenta. Tilapia is the best for urban fish farming on a small scale level because of its simple reproduction and breeding cycle and rapid growth rate. It has good tolerance to high stocking densities, intensive rearing conditions and good resistance to physical handling.
To start urban fish farming you need to drain your swimming pool and clean it of contaminants by scrubbing the inside of the pool with vinegar and then rinsing it clean. This is important, or the fish you introduce to the pool could die. Before introducing fish, however, plants need to be established as well as oxygen generating algae. Algae will grow on its own when allowed and the best plants to introduce are those you’ll find in natural freshwater environments in your area as these are suited to the climate. You can even introduce a couple of plants that are regarded as pests like salvinia, a fast spreading and floating fern. Rather than being a pest, the plant serves a purpose here as ‘chicken feed’ for the fish.
Another good method to make your pool water more fertile is by using animal manure and mixed compost made both of plant and animal matter which is placed in a crib or basket in the pond. This turns the water green and creates suitable conditions for bream fish rearing. Add a bucket of manure every week to keep the water green. The water will be ready for you to introduce bream after about a week. A good size for a pond is 20 by 25 metres or 500 square metres. You’ll need 25 juvenile fish for every ten square metres. If the pool is 500 square metres stock it with 1,250 fish. Try to keep the water temperature the same from where the fish are to where they are going.
Feed your fish with finely ground grain mill sweeping, rice bran, beer wastes, termites, mown lawn cuttings, animal waste, fruits, and vegetables. Feed your fish at the same time every day.
Harare News spoke to Vurayai Zvarevashe, Senior Project Officer at Aquaculture Zimbabwe, who said “In Harare we are slowly seeing more activity happening as many people are converting their swimming pools and backyards into small scale fish farming ponds. But most activity is seen in rural communities where people form groups and start fish farming on a community level.”
Aquaculture Zimbabwe offers training courses aimed at building capacity to support the development of fish farming in Zimbabwe. The training course includes an introduction to fish farming, fish production, fish species selection and fish biology basics, fish farm management best practices, post-harvest management and fish farming business management skills.