Smoked Catfish? Lets talk Buisness!

Catfish business still remains one of the most viable animal food businesses in Nigeria. Who doesn’t enjoy the delicacies that catfish can produce including catfish pepper-soup and smoked catfish.

It is common for catfish farmers to diversify into smoking catfish also for various beneficial reasons. Smoked catfish requires easy-to-get resources, the major part of which is already available – the Fish!!! Also, it requires basic intermittent monitoring and can be done at scheduled time and convenience. However, it is also important to know that this is a food business, therefore efforts must be made to achieve the best quality as much as possible so that nutrition and health is not lost to consumers.

Smoking catfish requires skill and practice so you must be willing to see it through even when you make a few mistakes.

Note that you don’t have to be a catfish farmer; both fish farmers and non-fish farmers can go into the business.

Just before you start… smoking catfish
The first step in your fish smoking business is to obtain some fresh fish. If it doesn’t look FRESH or smell FRESH or feel FRESH, it probably isn’t, and it will make your finished product taste bad. Use fresh fish. Smoking will not hide old fish because the quality will be reflected.

Also, categorize your catfish by weight and corresponding price. The two common weight categories include “300-600g” and “600g and above”. You can then price your catfish using those weight categories. However, you don’t strictly have to follow this. Understand your market first before pricing.

Processing the Catfish

After harvesting (as a farmer) or purchasing (as a non-farmer) your fresh catfish, you could put them in a container and add a reasonable amount of cooking salt. Cover the container with a lid and place a heavy object on the lid to prevent the fish from getting out of the container. Leave for about 30 minutes after which all the fish must have been dead then you can start the steps mentioned above.

Afterwards, clean the fish by removing the gills and intestines and washing thoroughly in clean water. Then you take the fish through a process called “brine and cure” in which you soak the fish in concentrated salt water. This will firm up the flesh to be less mushy, draw out any old blood, improve the taste and add some desired saltiness and flavoring to the fish, and inhibit the growth of deadly bacteria as this is a relatively low temperature cooking environment.

Smoking and Drying

Next steps for these are listed below;

  • Prepare the smoker or oven (There are different types of ovens, most of which are quite affordable – some you can even build yourself! Do not smoke fish with firewood and sawdust, this is because these two generates a lot of smoke that is very toxic to human health.)
  • Remove fish from the brine and rinse with cold water.
  • Place fish skin side down on oiled smoker rack.
  • Keep the fire low, for the first two hours.
  • Increase heat after the first two hours. (Note that the length of time will depend on the thickness of the fish, and on your preference for dry or moist smoked fish.
  • Continue smoking until fish is flaky and cooked through.
  • Remove from oven and allow to cool, then weigh before packaging



Advantages of smoked fish

  • It prolongs the “shelf life” of the fish once it has been smoked. A smoked catfish can be stored in the freezer for sixty days
  • It enhances the flavor when used in sauces and soup.
  • If you harvest a number of fish at a time, you can decide to smoke some to increase your income.  .
  • Smoked fish is a great way to get omega-3 fatty acids. There are numerous studies showing positive effects of these acids on the prevention of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.


Thinking about Fish Farming? Get started with this…

 This would be an introductory note to the area of fish farming as we would be running different topics under the area of fish farming.

Fish farming is the cultivation of fish in rivers, tanks or enclosures for personal or commercial use. There are different fish species for this purpose and they include salmon, common carp, tilapia, catfish etc. However, some are not suitable for fish farming in Nigeria, because of difference in environmental suitability, nature of fish and low market demand for the fish. Currently, catfish and tilapia are the most common species used for fish farming in Nigeria.

By raising fish, we make better use of our land and our water, we can have more nutritious protein to eat and of course, we can make a profitable business out of fish farming. However, just like any agribusiness (or any business at all) you need background knowledge, hard work and dedication make a success out of it.

Fish farming is the raising of fish for personal use or profit. It is sometimes called fish culture.

Fish can be grown in two ways:

  1. Extensive fish farming where fish grow under natural water conditions (i.e. river or stream).
  2. Intensive fish farming where fish are grown in man-made “natural fish environment” and provided with external supply of food.


What are your basic needs to start a fish farm?

  1. Good source of water.

There is core emphasis on GOOD in “good water” as this is very important for the overall well-being of your fish population. Good or bad water varies from fish to fish, but any fish that is placed in a non-conducive water environment will have its growth and productivity largely affected. Therefore, you need to know what exactly conducive for your fish in terms of pH, temperature, turbidity etc.

The size of your intending fish farm determines the quantity of water needed. But generally, you need to make sure that you have a considerable abundance of water.

If you are starting small, you may be comfortable with a nearby watering well. However, if you`re launching out as a big fish farm, you definitely need more than just a well. It is highly advisable to get a bigger water supply with increased storage capacity like a bore hole and water storage tanks.


  1. Housing

You have to provide your fish with a natural and comfortable housing. You can either house your fishes in natural water bodies such as ponds or small rivers or you can construct your own pond. Both have their advantages and disadvantages but the most important is that their water environment and housing must mimic their natural environment as much as possible.

For man-made ponds, various options include plastic tanks, brick-constructed ponds, etc.



  1. Food Fish Feeds.

Sources of food for your fish include the following;

Natural food: This is found naturally in the pond and it usually includes detritus, bacteria, plankton, worms, insects, snails and aquatic plants. Also, fish are known to each other most especially when they are hungry.

Supplementary feed: This usually includes cheap materials which may be locally available as plants, kitchen wastes or agricultural by-products. Supplementary feed may not be the best for your fish and we will discuss why in upcoming series.

Complete feed: This is feed formulated and produced specially for fish. They are usually of good ingredient and nutrients, made by the experts who understand the perfect formula for the fish at different stages of growth.


More importantly, before you start, you should get professional advice from someone with core expertise and experience in fish farming. You can contact us if you would like us to give you referrals for this purpose. You need core knowledge on components such as choice of location for  your fish pond, what kind of fish to raise, best feed options, how to feed your fish, taking care of your pond, draining your pond, harvesting the fish, marketing your fish etc.

Also, you should visit different kinds of fish farms near you including fish feeds sellers and fish marketers. Trust me, they always have valuable information to give.

Watch out for further notes on fish farming in the coming weeks. Enjoy the holidays!